Budapest is like the St. Paul of the Hapsburg Empire. The lesser of two twin cities but the better. OK, I totally made that up. But Budapest is cool city. It’s big, has a decent nightlife, and the people say the English “Hello” for goodbye and “Sziya” (sounds like see ya) for hello.
I stayed at a hostel close to St. Istvan’s Basilica. Yes, another church in Europe but this one came accessorized with the namesake’s mummified hand. This guy was the king who converted the Magyars to Catholicism and probably cut a deal for sainthood in the meantime. And now you lucky people can see the badly (but somewhat) illuminated hand thanks to my 100 Forint deposit into a nearby slot–very haunted house.
The city is historically two, Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube River so as you can imagine, they’ve got some good bridges. Here is a nighttime shot of one.
In the background you can make out Buda Castle. Underneath is a labyrinth used for well, whatever labyrinths are used for. The rumor is a king used to let loose his wives down there to wander and wither once he got tired of them. Sounds like they borrowed that story from Henry VIII but the labyrinths are worth a trip today because they play spooky music, adorn them with fake wall paintings, and there is even a pitch black section you get to feel your way through. Here is one of the more Myst-esque rooms followed by a shot of Fiona drinking from the gross wine fountain down there in the depths.
My first night was the Champion’s League final. That’s soccer for all ya’ll ‘Mericans. And we watched the game at an Irish Pub, of course. It turned out to be a pretty exciting game. Here is a shot of us outside the pub before going to a club.
The next day I visited a nearby town, Szentendre, where the local Marzipan museum features masterpieces that actually are entered into contests for this sort of thing. Here are two of my favorites: the King of Pop made of marzipan and, appropriately, white chocolate followed by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. MJ is lifesize.
Budapest is full of statues. It seems like every block has another. While all the Soviet era statues were removed to a nearby park, here are some of my favorite in the city as well as one from the park. I’m sure you can guess which one. Have you even ever seen a female sphinx before much less one with a face in her hands? The last one isn’t really a statue. It’s a pirate climbing the wall of a gun shop.
Some local tree fuond on the banks fo the Danube sheds these little white balls and they float through the city from May into June. Here is a shot of a bunch of them gathered by a step but imagine the air full of them, throughout the city. Weird.
They didn’t impede the atmosphere at the giant open-air clubs however. Here is a shot of Darren, from the hostel, with his Hungarian friend Andraa.
The club was so good that when I met up with Kate, my dad’s best friend’s daugther and my childhood friend, I took her and her friends back there the next night.
I had a great time in Budapest and like all these places, I’d like to go back someday. Here is a final pic of one of Budapest’s claims to fame, the oldest subway in Europe and from the looks of it the deepest underground.
posted Sunday March 2014