Wednesday 30 May 2018

Budapest III - Afternoon in Buda - Day 14

The city of Budapest, is divided by the Danube River, and continuing from our morning tour of Peste , we crossed the 19th century Chain Bridge and found ourselves in the beautiful old town of Buda.

We were wondering if we were going to catch the funicular up to the Castle, it's just a 3 min ride but we thought it was expensive at about $8 each person (return). In the meantime someone approached us offering mini-bus rides for half the price and we took the offer. 
He also accepted Euros in payment which was a bonus as I had withdrawn Euros just before flying out of Lisbon, not aware that Hungary hadn't adopted the Euro even though they are in the European Union.
The bus could carry 8 people, we were 7 and they already had a couple sitting on the bus, so we just squeezed in. There were 4 or 5 stops where we could be dropped and we chose to go to the last one - the Buda Castle and make our way back to Fisherman's Bastion.
We later learned that nearby there is a staircase that leads up to the top - for those who like to exercise and have good knees 😏

At the Funicular
At the Clark Adam Square is a statue of an "O" which symbolizes the starting point of all major roads leaving Budapest.

The O statue, the Chain bridge, our mini-bus and Buda Castle on the hill

                                  Fisherman's Bastion from below, when we were going up the hill by mini-bus
We were dropped near Buda Castle where there is an ancient brick wall from where we could see excavated medieval ruins. 

Ancient ruins near the Buda Castle

Through the cobblestone streets and just a few metres away in St. George Square was Sandor Palace, the official residence of the Hungarian President as well as his office.
The Palace was completed in 1806, commissioned by Count Vincent Sándor, a philosopher and aristocrat.
During the World War II, the Allied aircraft bombed Sándor Palace, and the building was left in ruins, and remained so until the demise of the Communist regime in 1989, when a team of restoration workers started restoring the palace to its former glory.

As we were looking at the views of Pest on the other side of the river we heard some drums and looked around to see the changing of the Guard at the palace. The guards turned their rifles, saluted and marched to the sound of the drums. The previous guards on duty then marched into the palace.

Views of the Danube River and the Pest side of the side
Changing of the guard at the Sandor Palace
Next we crossed the square towards the Buda Castle complex, a former residence of Hungarian Kings and governors.
Entry is through a beautiful iron gate and on the corner of the fence is a giant bird - a turul - which represents power, strength and nobility. Down the staircase is a landscaped area, a  few statues, and stunning views over the river to the Pest side.
The Castle also suffered extensive damage in WWII and was rebuilt in the baroque style. It's now home to the Hungarian National Gallery, National Archives, History Museum and the Szechenyi Library.

Statue of the Fishing children from 1912, Statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy from 1900

At the end of the building is a viewpoint with a 4mt high statue of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, facing the river. In the distance you can see the Liberty statue on Gellert Hill.
We reached the end and returned to have something to eat at a coffee shop outside the Museum, just behind the statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy and some other strange statue.
At the cafe with the statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy in front of us. A crow pulled a plastic from a bin and searches for food
The statue of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, and at the far end the Liberty statue on Gellert Hill
After our snack/lunch we started walking towards Fisherman's Bastion, via the cobbled streets of this beautiful residential area. Some beautiful houses caught my attention, and being a fan of beautiful doors and windows I also snapped a few photos of those. We were told some houses in this area date back from the 14th and 15th centuries, most of those being private houses. Only residents and workers are allowed to bring their cars in, otherwise only public transport is available, which makes sense to preserve this area's charm. Again lots of statues commemorating warriors and governors.

Holly Trinity Column built in 1713 (middle) near Matthias Church, Presidential palace (bottom left) and other statues in the area
Matthias Church is a Roman Catholic church in front of Fisherman's Bastion and it's a very striking church rebuilt in the 14th century in the same spot of a church destroyed by the Mongols. Also badly damaged during World War II it was renovated between 1950 and 1970. I loved the diamond  pattern coloured roof tiles, the tower and lavish embellishments. Different from many European churches.

Matthia's Church
St Stephen's statue,  patron saint of Budapest from 1906. Matthia's church - the patterned diamond shaped tiles on the roof, beautiful doors and windows. Did you notice the black crow with a gold ball on its beak?

And we finally arrived at the most visited attraction in Budapest!
It's called Fisherman's Bastion or Halaszbastya (in Hungarian), built between 1895 and 1902 to celebrate the 1000th birthday of the Hungarian state. It looks like a fairytale castle and was mainly designed to be used as a viewing terrace and not a fortification castle.
Also damaged during the war, it was restored by the son of the original architect. During the 1980's it underwent extensive renovations to clean up the walls damaged by fumes and restore the crumbling statues.

The fairytale palace - Fisherman's Bastion
Here you can sit on the stone benches in the arcades, climb the turrets and admire the amazing views for free. In one of the turrets I climbed there was a small bar, and I also noticed a restaurant with outdoor tables -  it would be the ideal place to be to admire the evening lights. 

Sadly we had to get going as we had dinner reservations on the other side of the river ...
We walked to where our mini-bus had made one of its stops and after a few minutes a mini-bus stopped. He looked at our tickets and said they were from another company. We waited another 15 minutes and with no bus coming my daughter decided to look on her mobile for an alternative way to get back to our hotel on the Pest side of the city.

On our way to get the bus - more statues, old map, postal box, artistic man hole cover

Karina found a bus that would suit us and we walked a couple of streets down, took the Granit lift next to the ancient city walls, and then walked down a lot of steps until we arrived at the stop by the park. The bus came along just a couple of minutes later. 
My daughter went in and requested 7 tickets and handed the driver a note. The driver said he didn't have change and motioned for us to come in. I wonder if he actually understood that there were 7 of us!!
The bus was already full and we stood for the 10 to 15 minute ride home. On the way I saw a few murals, but I was standing and hanging on to a pole so no chance of taking photos 😏.

But I found another 5 or 6 murals on the way to our dinner later on!! I was always stopping to take photos and everybody calling me to catch up to them 😉

Old walls of Buda city, stairs in the middle of residential houses leading to a park

After a quick shower and change of clothes we met up with the family in the lobby and walked to our first destination of the night - the 360 degree Rooftop Bar at Andrássy út 39.
Located at the top of an office building, we took the lift to the top and walked around looking for a spot to sit. The night was cool and we would have loved to be able to sit inside one of the igloos, but had to settle for a table that became vacant and gathered some stools so we could all sit.
The drinks were expensive of course, you  have to pay for the view and the novelty, but we were on holidays...

The 360 Rooftop bar with igloos, a statue on the way there
After our drink, we walked a little bit further to have dinner at the Drop - gluten free Restaurant at Hajós u. 27.  
Thomas' (future son in law) Mom is celiac so she worries a lot about eating out, so Thomas had found this 100% gluten free restaurant and she could have a relaxing time and enjoy the night. The food was good, prices not too bad, although I was surprised only two families were there.
And it was past 11 o'clock when we finished our dinner and walked home.

The Drop - gluten free Restaurant - the main dishes and dessert

Oh my, we did so much and walked so much that day- calculating from google maps we walked over 12 km/7.46 miles!
No wonder I felt quite fit but the time I returned home from our holidays, all that walking...

And here are the maps of the Buda and the Pest routes we walked that day.

On the Buda side 

On the Peste side

Hope I haven't bored you too much with all we did, just a day and a half to go before we return home.

Monday 28 May 2018

Monday Mural - Match of the Century

I came across this huge mural while on our way to dinner at a restaurant in the Jewish district (7th district) of Budapest, and returned the next day to take photos.
It depicts the football match between Hungary and England in 1953, when Hungary beat England by 6-3 causing the English team to review their training and tactics.
It's located at Rumbach Sebestyen Utca 6-10 (Sebestyan Rumbach str) and is part of a wall rehabilitation program which started in 2013 to bring life into the old and dark walls of the district.

Painted by Neopaint’s team, Hungary’s largest mural at 1000 sqmt surface (10764 sqft), used 400 litres of paint. So you can imagine how proud the Hungarians must be of that win!

If you like murals or have a mural you'd like to post, this meme is for you; just follow the Linky steps below.   Be sure to link back to this blog and visit your fellow posters.  Looking forward to your mural finds this week.  Thanks.


Wednesday 23 May 2018

Budapest II - Fabulous monuments - Day 14

Wednesday 11th April, we had a very full day ahead with lots of walking, so we started with breakfast at Cafe Vian, at Király u. 13 (Kiraly str) in the Jewish district, with bacon, eggs and toast for most of us. The coffee shop was in a lovely plaza full of restaurants. 
After breakfast we started our walk towards St Stephens' Basilica and I spotted My little Melbourne Coffee Bar at Madách Imre út 3,(Madach square). I don't drink coffee but was curious about the name, so we crossed the street to investigate. 
The name came about when the owners visited relatives in Melbourne (Australia), enjoyed the city's coffee culture and opened up their tiny shop in Budapest serving good coffee, croissants, juices, salads and sandwiches. They specialize in the classic espresso so my husband and son in law ordered 2 espressos and the coffee got the seal of approval.

Cafe vian (top right) and My Little Melbourne Cafe (bottom left)
Not far away was the Roman Catholic St Stephen's Basilica, named after the first King of Hungary.
It is Hungary's third largest church building and one of the two tallest buildings in Budapest at 96mt (315ft), the other being the Hungarian Parliament building. Current regulations prohibit any construction over 96 metres in Budapest, so they are likely to remain the tallest buildings.
The Basilica took 54 years to be built due to the collapse of the dome in 1868 which required a demolition and complete rebuild of that part of the building. It was finally completed in 1905 and is 55mt wide (180ft) and 87,4mt long (287ft) and has the shape of a cross. On the south tower is Hungary's biggest bell with 9 tonnes.
It really is a very impressive building - lots of gold details, statues, painted ceilings, beautiful dome...

St Stephen's Basilica

After the visit we started walking towards the Hungarian Parliament, and along the way we found beautiful buildings and a lot of public art.
A giant bronze statue of former American President Ronald Reagan was a surprise find and we posed with him. It acknowledges his efforts to end the Cold war and was unveiled in 2011, and located at Szabadság square near the American Embassy.

Beautiful architecture and lots of statues - President Ronald Reagan (bottom left) and I pose together.
Just before we came across Ronald Reagan we encountered a very controversial war monument in Freedom Square, which was unveiled in 2014 to mark the 70th anniversary of Hungary's Nazi German occupation. 
The critics say the monument of Archangel Gabriel being attacked by what appears to be the German imperial eagle (on their coat of arms) appears to absolve the Hungarian state from their role in sending 450 thousand Jews to their deaths during the occupation when Hungary was an allied of Nazi Germany during the first 5 years of the war.
Nonetheless, a lot of people have deposited personal photos, letters, flowers, etc., which makes the monument a bit more personal. Just in front there is a square water jet fountain, which seems to be a lot of fun for the kids that try to jump in and out avoiding the water.
I spotted a photo of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, a Portuguese diplomat in France who saved thousands of Jews by giving them visas out of the country - the Portuguese Schindler.

The War Memorial - a photo of Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese diplomat (top right), and personal mementos by the monument
Between Liberty Square and Parliament there was a bronze arched bridge with a statue in the middle - Imre Nagy, an Hungarian politician and Prime Minister who opposed communism during the 1956 Uprising.

Bronze arched bridge with Prime Minister Imre Nagy

Bronze arched bridge with Imre Nagy (top left), various statues around Parliament and Museum of Ethnography across from the Parliament building (bottom left), changing of the Guard
And on to the impressive Hungarian Parliament - the largest and tallest building in Budapest, located on Lajos Kossuth Square, with the main facade facing the banks of the Danube river, although the official main entrance is on the square behind. Inside and around the building there are over 200 statues!

Hungarian Parliament building

The impressive Parliament building, some of the statues around the parliament building and views of the river
Just 300 metres from Parliament and along the Danube is another memorial to the war which was created in 2005 - Shoes on the Danube bank - 60 pairs of iron shoes to honour the 3500 people (800 of them Jews) who were killed by the fascist Arrow Cross militia in Budapest in Dec 1944-Jan 45. The victims were ordered to take off their shoes and shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were washed away.

Shoes on the Danube bank
And we walk a few hundred metres more and are at the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, joining Buda and Pest. The cast iron bridge was the first permanent bridge over the Danube and opened in 1849. In January 1945 it was blown up when the Germans retreated during the Siege of Budapest and only the towers remained. It was then rebuilt in 1949.

The Chain Bridge
Views of both sides of the Danube from the bridge - Pest on the top where the Parliament building is and Buda at the bottom, where the Castle and other older monuments are.

After crossing the bridge we went to the Buda Castle Hill funicular to find out how to go up the hill to visit the castle and other monuments. It was now about 1pm and we wanted to go up the hill and find a place to have lunch before visiting all we had to on that side of the city.

But this will have to remain for the next week's post.

This google map shows our walk from the Avantegarde apartments to the Cafe Vian, Basilica, Reagan's statue, Parliament, Shoes on the Danube and Chain Bridge - which was close to a 5km (3,10mile) walk.

Monday 21 May 2018

Monday Mural - The 3 giants in Budapest

Last week in my post about Budapest I mentioned that when we arrived at our accomodation - Avantegarde Apartments, in the Jewish Quarter- and we opened the door to the little terrace at the back I was thrilled to see some murals painted on the wall of buildings adjoining an empty block of land.

The next day I walked to the street behind - Nagydiófa utca (street) to take photos of the 3 gigantic murals. And they probably won't be there long, as there was already some building machinery there, so once new buildings go up, the murals might just be blocked from view.

Taken from the street where the murals are
Luckily on the internet I was able to find out a bit more about the murals, and here is what I discovered. Painted for the Szines Varos Festival (Colourful City festival), initiative which started in 2008 which is held yearly in late summer when a number of murals and pieces of street art appear all around the city of Budapest.

Dionysus - The Greek God of Wine and the Grape Harvest, a 200 m2 mural painted in 8 days in 2017 by local artist Attila Balogh.

Poseidon -  God of the Sea, a 230m2 mural painted by Spanish artist Spok and French artist Korse.

And the last one is Urban Style - a 240m2 mural painted in 3 days by Russian artist Andrey Adno, representing the multi-faceted, beautiful and artistic city of Budapest.

And this was my first sighting of the murals from our apartment terrace at Avantgarde apartments.

My first sighting of the murals

If you like murals or have a mural you'd like to post, this meme is for you; just follow the Linky steps below.   Be sure to link back to this blog and visit your fellow posters.  Looking forward to your mural finds this week.  Thanks.