We left Morocco and flew to Budapest, Hungary to meet up with our good friends from Portland, Joe and Lina. Budapest is the capital and the largest city of Hungary. Originally two cities separated by the Danube River, Budapest became a single city with the unification of Buda on the west bank, with Pest on the east bank in 1873.
After to settling into our apartment on the Pest side of the city, we crossed the Danube and headed over to the Buda side to explore the Castle District. Walking along the Danube provided excellent views of the The Hungarian National Parliament building, built between 1880-1902, which is the largest in Parliament building in Europe.
In the Castle District, we explored Buda Castle, first built in 1265. The castle has been destroyed and rebuilt several times throughout the centuries. Built on a steep hill, we started at the base and slowly wandered up the castle complex following walls and towers built in medieval times.
At the top of Castle Hill, we were treated to impressive views across the Danube to Pest. We found a sociable European crow at the top of Castle Hill who would peck and tourists who came too close. See video below.
Back on the Pest side, we visited St. Stephen’s Basilica, constructed in 1905. The church is named after Saint Stephen I of Hungary, the first King of Hungary (c. 975–1038). Within the church, Saint Stephens “incorruptible” right hand can be seen for a fee. Creepy.
We climbed to the top of the St. Stephen’s Basilica to get a panoramic view of the city. When we reached the top it was pouring rain, but that didn’t stop us from taking in the incredible view.
Budapest has an extensive public transit system. To explore and navigate the the city we took the metro and/or the trams. The trams were a bit “rustic” but fun to ride.
On a rainy day, we set out for the the Great Market Hall, the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest. On the ground floor, vendors sell produce, meats, pastries, candies, spices, and spirits. Lots of paprika! On the top floor, several eateries sell local dishes, like sausages, goulash, and sauerkraut.
Budapest is famous for its thermal baths. There are over 125 thermal springs in the vicinity and Hungarians have taken advantage of the heated mineral water and have built bathing complexes all over the city. We headed to the Széchenyi Baths, one of the largest and oldest baths, on our last day in the city. Opened in 1913, the water at Széchenyi is supplied by two thermal springs. If we had known how nice the baths were we would have gone every day!
We had a blast in Budapest and were sad to leave. In the morning we set off for Keleti Train Station to board a train bound for Vienna, Austria, the second of three cities to explore with Joe and Lina.