BUDAPEST, HUNGARY. Our 2nd day in Budapest had been a wonderful one. We had not seen the sun shine like that the past few days that we were in Europe. It was at its peak, shining like an emotion kept for so long and then vented out to the atmosphere.
The Hungarian capital is made up of two parts: there is the hilly, suburban part on the west side of the river called Buda and the plain, urban center of the city on the east side of the river called Pest, hence the name Budapest.
We stayed in the Pest side, the young and hip side of the city as they call it. We were booked in the Courtyard by Marriott Budapest City Center which has a wonderful facade and an equally modern restaurant that I loved spending time in during the mornings because of its unpretentious vibe.
Immediately after a hearty breakfast, we went up to the Castle Hill in Buda. I was glad we have a coach to ride in as I have read that going up the hill is a tricky feat, a feat that I would love to try if ever I get the chance to go back to this loveable city. I may consider a hike, too, if I would have more time. Nonetheless, we were up there that early because we want to get ahead of the crowd. Or that's what we thought we would be seeing.
Our coach was supposed to park near the entrance of the Buda Castle, but because of the high volume of cars and coaches already lined up starting there when we arrived, we were left with no choice but to park in the middle of the steep road approaching the castle gate. It was no big deal really for the view was already amazing from there and it gets better and better still as we ascend.
Buda was quiet, but not the eerie kind that you would not want to experience again if presented the chance. It had that calm vibe that people who are from the city crave for. Maybe because only a few has the capability to afford houses or apartments there as they are 7 to 10 times more expensive than houses and apartments of the same size in Pest, which explains the exclusivity and privacy that can be felt in there.
We started our journey at the Fisherman's Bastion, in the Castle District, which is just a few hundred meters walk from the Buda Castle. It is a nice place to stay for a while and enjoy a panoramic view of the city. In front of it is the Matthias Church in Gothic architecture which we, unfortunately, had not gone into as we had been allured by the wonderful views from the Fisherman's Bastion.
After going through the points of attraction in Buda, we descended again through the slopes and went back to the city center in Pest to visit the Heroes' Square near the City Park. It is known as one of the main squares in the city due to its iconic complex statue featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and other important leaders of Budapest. A short walk from there will let you have a peek already of the gorgeous and attention-grabbing Vajdahunyad Castle. You may cross the bridge to get closer to the castle but seeing it from afar is already a treat in itself. During the winter, the Varosliget lake in front of the castle transforms to a huge skating rink which is being populated day in and out by rookie-skaters and enthusiasts. Grab a bite of Gundel's delicious crepe or have a sip of their lovely Goulash nearby after your skating session with your skate buddies.
From Gundel, head southwest towards the bank of the Danube to see up-close the magnificent Hungarian Parliament Building. It is one of Europe's oldest legislative buildings, a notable landmark of Hungary and a popular tourist attraction in Budapest. Book a tour inside the Hungarian Parliament Building. From gold ceilings, lavish carpets and intricately designed rooms, everything that you will see would definitely make your eyes grow bigger in amazement. Do not leave Budapest without going inside the building for I assure you that the tour will surpass your wildest expectations.
The Hungarians believe that worldly and spiritual thinking are of equal importance so standing in equal height with the Parliament
Building is St. Stephen's Basilica. Named in honor of St. Stephen, the basilica has a height of 96 meters and is the third largest church-building in present-day Hungary. Step in directly below the vast cupola of the church and bask in the subtle sun rays going through the translucent dome. As you look up, you will feel your jaw dropping slowly not because of gravity but because of the breathtaking view that you are seeing directly above you. It looked like the sun, at least for me but for others it may seem like a whole galaxy or a magical painting to them. It will all depend on a person's perception of what is amusing.
Since our eyes had already been filled to the brim, our stomach's whims then took the spotlight. We were lucky to see once again a Christmas market in St. Stephen's Square especially then that we have not gotten over the Christmas market experience we had the night before just yet. With a cup of hot chocolate and a slice of Flodni placed in the center of our table, we immediately finished them up in seconds (actually, I gobbled the Flodni for myself, my mom gulped down the hot choco while my dad and brothers just sat there both watching us and people-watching).
It had been another fun day in Budapest! I could not deny I fell in love deeper with the city by the minute. It has a certain allure to it that could not be easily dismissed and a cool vibe that both the young and young-at-hearts will definitely find amusing. This city just lets you chill and be yourself and that's what I love most about it.