At last, we have come to the final post on my trip around Europe during April vacation with my parents! Bittersweet, I know, but at least it ended on a happy note…and also in the beautiful city of Budapest! 🙂
I had been wanting to visit Budapest for a while now, ever since seeing the absolutely gorgeous photos of its iconic Chain Bridge on Tumblr and such. Glad that the cruise we took passed through it, as we were able to spend a night in the lovely Central European country.
Now, Budapest is actually a combination of two former towns: Buda and Pest (pronounced, “pesht”). Pest is where more things are “happening,” in terms of city life, shopping, eating, and so forth, while Buda is considered the “rich side,” with the castle and its surrounding town; it also is hillier than Pest. Both are separated by the Danube River, but nevertheless are connected by the seven or so bridge along the city, including that of the Chain Bridge. Very interesting fact!
As usual, we cruise-goers had a half-day tour on the coach; we left for the city center at 8h30 and took a sightseeing tour around town, beginning in Pest. I believe that most people wouldn’t know how elegant and architecturally-appealing the city is, but it is! I would say that it rivals that of Vienna, actually. In any case, it is very lovely. ❤
We had a stop at Heroes’ Square, one of the main (and historic) squares in Budapest. It features seven statues of famous Hungarian kings and heroes, along with a column in front of it, all of which are to commemorate the one-thousandth anniversary of the city when it was established by people from Asia “back in the day.” Funny enough, the square, while very majestic, was not so majestic with the number of hagglers trying to sell us cheap items (postcards, pamphlets, sweaters) while we were trying to take photos and otherwise take in the beauty of the square. Rather annoying, but that’s the case with a good amount of big cities in Europe. 😛
We had also passed by the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, a well-known public bath for tourists and locals alike. I would have liked to go check it out on my own, perhaps even dip my toes into the baths, but again I was on a tour, and with my parents as well, so that will have to wait until the next time that I go to Budapest!
Any case, we shortly left the Pest side and took the bus over to Buda, where we explored the castle grounds. As Buda is the more historic side of the city, I saw many gorgeous, centuries-old architecture, including that of Matthias Church and the Fisherman Bastion, the latter which is a look-out point towards Pest. Very beautiful!
We entered Matthias Church (packed with other tourists, of course), took photos from the Fisherman’s Bastion, and then we concluded the tour there. It was around noontime, and so my parents and I decided to head back to Pest to get lunch. We walked over the Chain Bridge (bustling with cars and people), which was also very nice during the day time.
We went to a traditional Hungarian restaurant not too far from where our cruise ship was docked. It was wonderful, as the service not only was really good (staff was friendly and helpful with their dish recommendations), but also the food was delicious. I ordered the Hungarian goulash to start, as I knew that I had to get it while in Hungary. Unlike the Czech’s beef goulash, the Hungarian version is a soup, with paprika (a spice which apparently Hungarians love to use in almost everything) and little couscous-sized dumplings. Now, I’m not much of a soup fan, but it was pretty good and hearty! For my main dish, I chose this pork plate, which consisted of pork (of course) braided into a knot, with cabbage dumplings and paprika sauce and cream. The pork surprised me, was it was not dry and flavorful- success! I finished it off with an apricot-cottage cheese cake, and I actually liked it, considering that I don’t like cottage cheese. But it tasted more like a cheesecake (which I love), albeit a bit lumpier. Very refreshing as well. Our server offered us pálinka (plum brandy) to try at the end of our meal. Super strong, as I would say that it’s more so than vodka! Not bad, but definitely needed a bit of water to wash it down in the end… 😛
Afterwards, we wandered a bit around Pest, briefly checking out St. Stephen’s Basilica before heading to find the Grand Market Hall (which we didn’t find, but instead stumbled upon a large, outdoor market in the process!). We didn’t stay out too long, and by 15h00, we headed back to the ship to rest after a long day out in town.
Later that night, I headed out to the top deck of the cruise ship to take some nice photos of the Chain Bridge at night. Considering that it was our last night before leaving the cruise and, for me, finishing up April vacation, I might as well capture the lovely views before I couldn’t! Definitely a beautiful sight to behold. ❤
The next morning was the last day in Hungary. My parents and I headed to the airport together around 10h30. While I needed to catch my flight back to France in the afternoon, my parents were continuing on to Prague, and so we parted ways when they boarded their flight before mine in the early afternoon. Unfortunately, my flight back got delayed by an hour, which really upset me, as I had a train to catch back to Normandy upon landing, and so I ended up missing my intended train back and had to take the next train back (and ended up forking over some money for the change in time, urgh!). Thankfully, one of my colleagues waited for me at the train stop where I got off, and took me back to my little town. It was probably around past 22h00 when I arrived back in my flat, tired but relieved to have returned after a long day of traveling.
Whew! That concludes my travels during April vacation. While I wish that I had more time to explore Budapest, I was glad to have experienced it anyway. Perhaps I will return one day to see more, as well as do more things on my own in the Hungarian capital. As for my April vacation overall, it was pleasant. I was able to see my parents after months of not being able to, as well as hop over six countries in sixteen days- a personal record for me! Considering that that was my last, two-week paid vacation for my work in France, I am a bit sad, but at the same time I know that I made the best out of it! No regrets whatsoever! 🙂
Thank you for sticking with my adventures this time around. I have a couple of more mini-travel stories to recount in the upcoming posts, so stay tuned! Until then, godspeed! 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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