Mr. Aaron our driver from Krakow to Budapest kept us busy with lots of tidbits about Budapest. He owns ‘Eurobusways’ – a mini bus company. The company owns a few cars, mini buses and vans and operates all over East Europe. Their service is excellent and very reliable. Being a small company, they are very flexible in their approach. On the whole we had an excellent experience with Mr. Aaron. In fact our van experience all through was very good. In retrospect, travelling by a van was the best option.
Schooling is practically free for all the children in Hungary. They pay 20 Euros per child for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Minimum wages in Budapest is 300 Euros. Hungarians love to eat and drink and according to Aaron – they do it in good measure. Russia and Germany play a very pivotal role in the Hungarian economy. Petrol costs Rs 80 to Rs 85 per liter – slightly more than ours. Hungary is not a very rich country but enjoys a moderate and stable economy.
The charming Hungarian capital is known as the ‘Queen of the Danube’. The city straddles both sides of the River Danube and comprises what were originally two distinct cities Buda and Pest. Buda is the older part with the old world charm and Pest having a commercial outlook. The city is undoubtedly the prettiest city in Europe. The history of the city can be traced back to the age of the Romans who laid the foundations of the city as early as 89 AD. Budapest, an extremely old city, played a crucial role in the history of Europe. It suffered very serious damage during WWII. After the war it came under the umbrella of the Soviet Block.
Budapest is extremely charming and instantly lovable. It reminds me of a beautiful woman who ages gracefully and with dignity, full of inner beauty. Its beauty and rich architecture is evident all over the city. The earliest city architecture has been influenced by the Romans. There are plenty of examples of Gothic and Renaissance styles too. The Turkish occupation led to examples of Ottoman architecture. Latter day Classical and Neoclassical architecture is also on display. Visitors are treated to a panoramic display of well maintained buildings, churches, castles, bridges, museums, parks and much more. Budapest is a delight!
What is most amazing is the fact that Hungarians have preserved the city in its pristine condition in spite of the age of the city, vagaries of weather and ravages of various wars; something that we, as Indians, could learn.
Budapest is best enjoyed on foot and that is exactly what we did. We did a combination of ‘Hop on Hop Off’ rides and a lot of walking. Like all other cities founded on rivers, Budapest also has a number of beautiful bridges connecting Buda and Pest – - the new Elizabeth Bridge, Margret Bridge, Freedom Bridge and the Chain Bridge – one must cross from one side to the other on foot using any of the bridges. We stayed at the IBIS. The food is very tasty and the helpings are large. The cost of food is more or less the same all over the Schengen countries. We went on a boat ride on the Danube in the evening – and were able to watch both Buda and Past when there was adequate light before the sun set as well as when all the buildings were lit up after sunset. Sitting in a boat, cruising along the Danube and watching the ‘Queen of the Danube’ is truly a fascinating, romantic sight to be cherished for many, many years.
It was a great pity we had only three days to see Budapest.
Figure 1 –Flanked by the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Art and situated at the entrance to the City Park, Budapest's “Heroes' Square” stands in honor and memory of the great leaders in Hungary's history. In the background - The Millennium Monument honors Hungary's heroes. It was created at the end of the 19th century for the thousand-year anniversary of the conquest of Hungary by Magyar tribes.
Figure 2 – The art gallery
Figure 3 – Palace of Art
Figure 4 - Buda Castle seen from Gellért Hill
Figure 5 - The Fisherman's Bastion, situated in the picturesque Castle District, is a romanticized version of a medieval bastion complete with beautiful turrets and ramparts.
Figure 6 A View of the Danube from Gellert’s Hill
Figure 7 – View of the buildings in Buda
Figure 8 – A city park
Figure 9 - The city hall of Budapest is a monumental Baroque structure originally built in the eighteenth century as accommodation for war veterans. At the end of the following century it was remodeled to house the municipal government of Budapest.
Figure 10 – View of the castle from a distance
Figure 11 – View from Pest
Figure 12 – A giant wheel in Pest
Figure 13 – City park ice rink – a mix of the old and new
Figure 14 – Buda castle seen from Pest. The origins of the expansive Buda Castle go back to the 13th century. The imposing castle is home to two museums and is a must-see for anyone visiting Budapest.
Figure 15 - The Elisabeth Bridge is a sleek modern bridge that was built in the early 1960s to replace an older iron suspension bridge. Near the bridge is a monument of Queen Elisabeth, after whom the bridge is named
Figure 16 – Another part of Buda viewed from Pest
Figure 17 - Hungarian Parliament Building
Figure 18 – View from the river
Figure 20 – Kats pretending to be Amitabh Bacchan as in ‘Jhoom Barabar Jhoom’
Figure 21 – Navin all relaxed
Figure 22 – Jai enjoying Budapest
Figure 22 A – KM standing tall - Hop on Hop off
Figure 23 – Fishersman’s bastion
Figure 24 - Trinity column
Figure 25 - Gate to the entrance of Buda Castle in the old castle district of a crow with a ring in its beak.Bringing good luck to the city
Figure 26 – After a tiring day
Figure 27 –The Renaissance type of architecture places emphasis on symmetry, proportion and geometry. In this building some windows and ledges are false and placed there for the sake of architectural discipline.
Figure 28 – A random street
Figure 29 - This monument on the namesake hill is built in 1904 in honor of the Bishop Gellért, who converted Magyars to Christianity but was killed here by opponents of the new religion
Figure 30 – Lion guarding the entrance of Chain bridge
Figure 31 – Railway terminal building. West (Nyugati) Station was built at the end of the 19th century. With its progressive glass and iron design by the French architectural firm of Gustave Eiffel, the station is a favorite with architecture buffs
Figure 32 – Beer Bike - Peddle and Beer cart
Figure 33 – View from the river – approaching sunset
Figure 34 – Kats and Self