When I first picked up the tour book I borrowed on Budapest, I laughed as I read the passage: “Often described as the Little Paris of Middle Europe…” I couldn’t imagine how a city plagued with such history could possibly compare to Paris. Let me say, I stand corrected. There are certainly reminders around the city about the tragedies that have taken place. Despite all of the darkness, Budapest really is a beautiful, amazing, and even romantic city. I would go back to spend more time there in a heartbeat.
This trip was the first time I was able to extend work travel into bonus time. I left Amsterdam Thursday night and arrived at the hotel some time around 10pm. The first 2/3 of the drive from Ferihegy (ferry-hedge) Airport isn’t exactly scenic, but the closer we got to the Danube, the more beautiful it became. Then we hit the river and the lights of the city. Every monument is lit up at night making for a breathtaking first view of the river and all that lines it.
After making it through the work day Friday one of my Hungarian colleagues offered some suggestions of things to see and a restaurant to have a traditional Hungarian dinner. I made it back to the hotel, quickly changed, then headed out to begin exploring. My plan for Friday was to cross the river to Pest, see Parliament up close, then mosey my way to the restaurant near Heroes’ Square. I spent about four hours out and about Friday night enjoying every moment and every sight. I enjoyed it all so much that I was worn out and in bed by 10. One of the downsides (for me) of traveling alone is not making the most of the nightlife. I don’t mind walking around all day alone or eating alone, but I lack the courage/desire to check out the late night scene by myself.
Since I was in bed early, I woke up Saturday morning with the sun. Once it was a decent hour, I headed back out into the world. This time to see the Buda side: Royal Palace and Gellert Hill. Where the Pest side is fairly flat and laid out in a structured grid, Buda is covered with hills. My first stop was Old Town which offered a great view over the city and some beautiful history. From there I made my way to the Royal Palace. After circling and exploring, I made my way down from the Royal Palace and walked along the river toward Gellert Hill.
The Hill sits even higher above the city than the Royal Palace. From Old Town to the Palace to the Hill, like the view of Budapest was more and more beautiful at each stop. I spent a fair amount of time taking photos and wandering around this area then I found a nice bench overlooking Budapest and wrote out a few postcards. It was the perfect excuse to rest my feet and just take it all in.
Only having had about 24 hours to myself in Budapest it was more about getting the lay of the land and seeing the major sites and monuments. There are a number of things I didn’t get to see or do that were on my long list but I’ll use those as motivation to get back to the city again before this year is over.
Of course, there’s no rest for the wicked. I got home Saturday around 9pm and am off to the UK less than 24 hours later. In fact, this week coming up is a bit insane. I have six flights in the next five days: Sunday to UK, Monday back to Amsterdam, Tuesday to Istanbul, Wednesday to Warsaw via Budapest, Thursday back to Amsterdam. KLM gold status, here I come! My one wish for this week is that I had more time in Istanbul. Everyone I’ve talked to says it’s a must-go place. It’s on the list. While I’m crisscrossing Europe please feel free to enjoy a few pictures from this last trip.