Monday, 11 June 2018

Budapest V- Views and Spas in Buda - day 15

After crossing the Chain bridge we took one of the paths up the Gellért Hill which starts just to the right of the bridge. 
Gellert Hill with the Liberty Statue at the top

It was a steep climb up the 235mt (771ft) high  dolomite rock, step upon step with a couple of stops in between...but it's a popular destination for it's fantastic views over the city.
The hill was named after St. Gerard (an Hungarian bishop) who was thrown to his death down the hill in 1046.
My husband stayed at the bottom as his knees get sore when he climbs a lot of steps, and the 6 of us climbed to the top. On the way up we encountered two kid's playgrounds and a lot of kids enjoying themselves.

Flowers were also abundant on the way up.

Midway up we stopped at a stone cross which was erected there in 2001, having replaced a prior wooden cross which marked the entrance to the Cave Church below that area.
Sadly there are no signs on the various paths up the hill and we totally missed visiting the apparently beautiful Cave church as we didn't realize it was there.

She can be seen from almost all of the city and has become the symbol of Budapest, so it was with excitement when we finally reached the top of the hill that we saw the beautiful 14mt/46ft high Liberation Monument (or Liberty statue) that sits atop a 25mt/84ft pedestal lifting a palm leaf towards the city as a symbol of peace. 
Built in 1947 to commemorate Hungary's liberation from Nazi rule during WW II, the monument used to be surrounded by Soviet themed statues, but when Communism fell in Hungary in 1989, those were moved to Monument Park (which we didn't get to visit).
The inscription in the Liberation Monument was changed to read: "To the memory of those who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom and success of Hungary".

Liberty Statue
The two other supporting statues on the side are a female figure holding the torch of progress and a young man killing a dragon which represents the defeat of fascism.

Behind this area is the Citadel, a fortress built by the Hapsburgs  in 1848 to demonstrate control over the Hungarians, with cannons that could destroy both Buda and Peste and silence any uprising.
The Hungarians despised it and used to call it the Budapest Bastille.

We were tired from the climb and still had the descent to do, so didn't go around the back to the Citadel, but there are outdoor exhibits - Soviet artillery guns, there is a Museum with bunkers and a prison yard and the Citadel Cafe with a terrace overlooking the city and the Citadella Panorama restaurant is the best place to be before dusk with the city lights come on.  

The views from the hill are amazing of course - the various bridges over the Danube, the Market hall, Parliament, the modern train station...
 Chain bridge
Elizabeth bridge 
Panoramic view with the platform where the cross is and the Chain bridge in the distance

We descended the hill and met up with my husband who had even managed a nap on the grass. We all picked our backpacks that we had left with him and crossed the street to go to the Gellért Thermal Baths which is attached to the Gellért Hotel.
Deep inside the hill are hot thermal springs that supply water for the spas.
The complex was built in 1918 in the Art Nouveau style, with outdoor and indoor swimming pools, thermal pools, saunas, and other nurturing facilities like massage, pedicures,  and even a hairdresser.

Gellert Thermal baths
The spa and hotel

We paid our entry fee which included the hiring of a towel, were given a bracelet to log in and out through a machine, looked for individual lockers to store our gear which also operates with the bracelet and went to the changing /shower rooms to change into our costumes. We wrapped ourselves with the towels, put our flip-flops on and started by going into the outdoor pool.
The water was a bit cold for my liking, so my daughter and I moved to the thermal pool where the water was super hot. A few minutes in the sauna next, and a tepid shower next.
All that heat made us very thirsty and we all ordered a water/juice or beer from the bar and sat outside sunning ourselves in one of the terraces furnished with sun-loungers.
I saw a lot of people had their mobiles or cameras with them, so I went downstairs to grab my mobile to take some photos.
Art Nouveau details around the outdoor pool and the bracelet
The outdoor pool

We didn't get to use the indoor pool, which at one stage had a lot of elderly people taking a water aerobics class. The indoor pool is supported by Roman style marble columns.
The Gellért Baths are open from 6am to 10pm. They seemed to be popular with locals and tourists alike.

Outdoor and Indoor pool

We left the complex at around 6pm and walked across the Chain bridge back into the Pest side. Just by the entry to the bridge and below the Gellert Hill is the Pauline Monastery, which sadly we didn't get to visit as we were running out of time for our dinner reservation.
The Pauline monks took over the Cave Church, and the first tower gives the monks private entrance into the Cave church, while the larger building is the Monastery itself.

Pauline Monastery at the bottom of the Gellert Hill
Upon reaching our apartment we changed for dinner and met up with the rest of the family in the lobby at the arranged time.
Just down the road from us at Kazinczy street 32 was the Soul Food restaurant.
We were seated on the first floor of this small restaurant and the stairs wall was painted with a big mural.
Food was tasty - I had a Seafood Gumbo -  and reasonably priced, the waiter on his first day was a bit slow but that was to be expected. 
Throughout the day my throat was getting worse, and I was now coughing quite a lot but  had reached the limit of lozenges and sprays for the day.
At a certain stage during dinner my cough got so bad that it felt as if I had asthma as I was having trouble breathing with the prolonged coughing fits!
It was scary and embarrassing having everyone look at me when that happened.
My daughter wondered if it could be an allergy and offered me one of her anti-histamines that she was taking for hay fever.
Somehow it actually helped as soon after I wasn't coughing as much. I think I might have been allergic to that throat spray.

Soul Food restaurant

Right across from our building was the Szimpla Kert, at 14 Kazinczy Streetknown as the first ruin pub in Budapest.
We had already popped in on our first evening, but didn't stay, but being our last night in Budapest, we went there for a drink and to experience the atmosphere. 
Even though the place was crowded, and there were a lot of tourists and a young crowd outside it wasn't rowdy.
The delapidated building that used to house a stove factory was facing demolition in 2004, and the four owners of the Szimpla Kert bar decided to move into this building as it provided the environment they were looking for. The large courtyard at the back was used as an open-air cinema to show Indie and underground films.
Most of these "ruin bars" are located in the District VII (the Jewish quarter), an area that was left to decay after WW II, so it was perfect for the underground bar scene. From the 0utside they look like normal homes, no loud music or drunken people, but once inside the areas are artsy and funky.
From the photos you can see that the furniture doesn't match, all the rooms are decorated differently, lots of art on the walls, pipes or electrical wiring on show... I guess this would certaily not pass inspection in any other European country!  But it's certainly unique! 

Szimpla Kert bar

And to end today's post you might enjoy this short Youtube aerial video of Budapest that starts with the Citadel and Gellert Hill.  I'm sure you'll enjoy it.


  1. Budapest is a spot that never really called to me before, but after seeing all your posts, I'm rethinking that. It looks beautiful and the history is certainly fascinating. (Bet the food is good, too!) I think I'd like that spa!

    1. Hi Jeanie, we had also thought that there wouldn't be much to see but we were mistaken and really enjoyed the city and history.
      As for the food I wasn't too impressed with the traditional food, too much meat and potatoes for my taste, but there's other things to eat.

  2. Beautiful shots- especially that monastery.

    1. Thanks William, I was sorry we didn't have time to visit the Monastery, it looks interesting.

  3. Your cheque from the Budapest Tourist Board is on its way. The city is as wonderful as you have shown us. See what locations you remember.

    1. Thank you Andrew, hope they've read your review, lol.
      I see a few of the places I've visited, thanks for the "Happy" song too.

  4. Those playgrounds look like fun and are SO different from anything here in the states.

    Goodness. That liberty statue is amazing. If it's as huge as it looks, I'm totally impressed. And all those statues are to die for. Amazing and stunning.

    That spa is amazing. I take it you had to give the bracelet back at the end of the spa stay. I hope they sanitize them for the next person (grin). The architecture was phenomenal and the water areas were so beautiful with the tiles.

    I want to visit the Pauline Monastery. It looks like a fairytale castle to me!

    Sorry about your cough, but I'm glad your daughter was able to help so you could enjoy your wonderful looking gumbo and rice.

    OMgosh what a way to end the day. That bar was incredible and so, so colorful. It looked like lots of merriment in the photos.

    Thanks for sharing the video. Yes, I enjoyed it as I have all of Budapest.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. Those slides in the playground were fun, the statue is gigantic, the spa bracelet had to be handed back, as for sanitizing them, I never thought of it, lol.
      I was sorry we didn't get to see that Monastery in the rocks, will have to plan a future visit maybe...
      The cough got better, I think it was an allergy rather than a sore throat/cough or flu problem.
      The bar was fantastic and just so out of this world, I don't think we'll ever see anything like this anywhere else!
      Have a nice weekend Elizabeth.

  5. A wonderful travel report with beautiful photos. You have seen a lot of Europe during your stay.

    1. Thanks Marianne, it was a bit of a run around in such a short time.

  6. Continuo a ficar maravilhado com este passeio a Budapeste.
    Um abraço e bom fim-de-semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa

    1. Obrigada Francisco, foi uma bela viagem.

  7. The first pic is very majestic, the light is just perfect, great shot.
    What a sad name for that hill!
    But, yes, even with climbing up, kids still have the energy to play, I guess!
    Missing signs remind me a lot of our journeys throughout Australia in 1995 and 1999! We missed so much!
    The statue is beautiful.

    Oh, wow, the climb really was worth the efford!
    "...managed a nap on the grass" :-)

    The spa is very, very beautiful.

    Oh, that sounds really not funny at all with the caughing!

    The ruin pub looks very... creative, oh, my :-)

    1. That photo of the hill was taken at sunset. I'm glad we climbed it as you say, the views and the statue were worth it.
      The cough was terrible, but luckily it got better with the anti-histamine.

  8. I did enjoy the video Sami but I enjoyed your photos and descriptions better ☺ The spa baths look amazing looove that style of architecture. The coughing would have given you a fright, it's awful when you just can't stop! Loved the light in your first shot, so pretty. I enjoyed Budapest through your eyes, merci beaucoup xox

    1. Thank you Grace, the spa was beautiful, those tiles and colours, just so pretty!
      That cough was scary, glad it got better after the anti-histamine.

  9. Obrigado por este belo passeio virtual.
    Excelente reportagem fotográfica.
    Fiquei com vontade de ir conhecer.
    Divagar Sobre Tudo um Pouco

    1. Obrigada Maria, foi um belo passeio a uma cidade muito interessante.

  10. Love the look of the spa's, but I enjoyed seeing and reading all of your post.

    All the best Jan

  11. Dearest Sami,
    So well documented here and a joy to go back to this beautiful city with you.
    Sorry you had such coughing problems... But you still managed to get the most out of your day.
    Yes, having bad knees is a challenge for having to climb up and even for going down.
    There is never enough time to explore it all.
    Loved the video too, even though we cannot understand the singing... Did you know that Hugarian is in the same linguistics as Finnish? One wonders how way back these languages came into existence. Most likely through war and conquer and forming new areas.

  12. Thanks Mariette. I had no idea Hungarian and Finnish had the same language basis. They are both very difficult. As we get old some parts start to wear out, with my husband it's his knees. He used to play tennis and I think that helped to damage them further.

    1. Tell your husband that biking is very good for removing fluids from the knee without putting any strain on them. Pieter had the very same problem and he is supposed not to walk much and not putting any weight on his knees. Biking has completely removed his pain, together with the daily Schiff Move Free Joint Health Advanced Glucosamine + Chondroitin (Costco) and YouTheory Turmeric (which I too use)💗


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