Travel Blog Daniella and Luke's Travelblog

6Sep/10Off

Leaving Budapest

Today we made the last of our second last day in Budapest by heading out early to Szechenyi Baths.  Bathing culture has a strong following in Budapest dating back to the Ottoman occupation and many tourists visit the city strictly for the famous baths.

The baths were great. Past indoor mineral bathing pools the complex extends outside to large open-air thermal pools complete with fountains, spa bath and 'whirlpool' and then back into a basement level sauna, plunge pool and ionic air chamber.

Afterwards, we headed back to our hotel before heading to the nearby Great Synagogue, the largest Synagogue in Europe (the largest is in New York).

We then headed back to a large festival in nearby Andrassy Utca to watch open-air piano recitals.

5Sep/10Off

Buda, Pest and Castle Hill

If you're ever planning to use public transport in Romania to meet a connecting flight or tight schedule, then good luck.  Leaving Romania on an overnight train to Budapest (craftily saving the expense of a night's accommodation) we expected to arrive at 8:10 the following morning, we didn't arrive until 10:30.

This worked out OK for us as we had several hours to waste lugging our backpacks around until we could stash them at the hotel after check-in time.  However, making the most of our time we still undertook a fairly good exploration of Pest, locating our Hotel, the Great Synagogue and Parliament before the check-in time.

Despite some initial first impressions of Hungary from rural train stations hinting at some similarities with Romania; stray dogs, border guards with close-cropped blond hair in Soviet-era reminiscent uniforms and some derelict buildings, on walking from Budapest Keleti Pu train station the difference between the two neighboring countries became markedly clearer.

Budapest is beautiful.  Every building, even the large central apartment complexes, are Baroque masterpieces, landmarks sporadically dot the city and everything twists, turns and melts into everything else in a way that a camera refuses to capture.

Something about Budapest seems strangely familiar too.  The small lane ways dotted with stores, the beautifully preserved buildings, the logical layout of streets - at some times it almost feels as if it could be some street on the Melbourne CDB.

After checking in, we headed out to explore Budapest, first walking out to Buda and then heading north to Castle Hill.   Castle Hill is big, very big.  From our vantage point at the memorial in Buda, Castle Hill seemed to house a large palatial palace.  Only after arriving in the mid-afternoon did we find that the Castle complex including the old town and Churches spans about five kilometers.

Parliament, a fantastic example of the neo-Gothic architecture.

State Opera House.

View of Castle Hill from lower Buda.

View of Parliament from Castle Hill.

Matthias Church on Castle Hill.

Fisherman's Bastion.

The following day our luck riding on the coat tails of the warm summer tourist season finally ran out.  Although it had rained a little during our stay at Brasov, we had attributed this to the high altitude, Bucharest still being relatively dry when we returned.  However, waking this morning it was noticeably cold and damp.  Undeterred, we headed out to Statue Park - home of many of many relocated communist era statues of former communist Hungary.

The statue below was clearly the pick of  the bunch.  Film fails to capture the dynamism and sense of movement and energy in this piece.

Comrade Lenin.

Marx and Engels.

Afterwards we caught the Metro out to Hero's Square; erected in honor of Hungary's conquest of the land.

And after that we relaxed in a Borozo - a wine bar in which the wines are served soup style from large steel drums with a ladle like cup for stupidly low prices.

We then strolled down a couple of blocks to find the Grand Market inexplicably closed for the weekend.

After dinner, we took the metro out to view Castle Hill and Chain Bridge by night.  The Metro escalators are incredibly steep and long.