My first impression of Budapest was that there were so many trees! Now, don't get me wrong, I wasn't expecting to not see any vegetation, but coming from Manchester, where seeing such a concentration of trees is pretty much nonexistent, this was a welcomed surprise. I also enjoyed the speedy pass through passport control, in which the officer didn't even look at me, or say anything...he just grabbed my passport, stamped it, and then grunted, which I understood to mean 'on your way.'
I opted to take a taxi, as I wanted to get to my destination as quickly as possible. The driver was delightful, but spoke very little English. He was fully knowledgeable, however, in one topic...football, which I, on the other hand, knew very little about. But, I think after that 40-ish minute drive, I'm a bit more in-the-know than I had been prior to this trek. To be fair, I wasn't in a rush to see the city (although I was pretty excited for that, as well), but I was actually anxious to meet up with one of my good friends from Acadia, former Melrose Placer, and budding genocide expert, Jacob, who is currently finishing up his Masters there.
I was dropped off in a weird parking lot-esque street, where I was greeted with someone shouting 'Emily!" from a window above me. Usually, this would slightly terrify me, and cause me to tense up and look straight ahead, but in this instance, I knew it was Jacob directing me to his flat (which was pretty sweet, by the way!). We enjoyed some lunch and caught up, before he gave me a quick rundown of Pest on his way to a school-related event (he was in a Slam Poetry competition, no big deal...). From here we parted ways, and I began my adventure. However, on this little trek, something unusual happened. Out of nowhere someone started yelling "Acadia" at us. It took a few times for us to clue in that this voice was being directed at us. As I was wearing my Acadia jacket, a current student travelling across Europe noticed the emblem and we had a quick chat. On a personal level, it was exciting not to be connected with Acadia + Mike. Oh Acadia...making random connections abroad since, well who knows.
I started just short of where he left me, at St. Stephen's Basilica. Here I opted to climb the (what seemed like) 14 000 stairs to the top to get some views of Budapest, and get a good feeling for what the next 36-ish hours would being me. Unbelievable.
|In Budapest, you are not allowed to walk around with small children**|
|St. Stephen's Basilica|
|A View from the top!|
|Parliament from the top of St. Stephen's|
Next I walked through what Jacob referred to as the 'awkward' park, but is actually called Freedom or Librety Square. Where I entered was a Holocaust memorial, which is viewed as quite controversial itself. This is partly due to Hungary's vague ownership of involvement in the genocide. At the opposite end, is a different memorial - one to the Soviet's - which is overlooked by the US Embassy on one side, and a statue of Ronald Reagan on the other (looking as though he's walking right through it!).
|The Holocaust Memorial|
|The Red Army tribute|
|That dark, statue looking man, is the statue of Ronald Reagan|
|Parliament, coming from Liberty/Freedom Square|
|The little ball-looking things are to pinpoint actual bullet holes from the 1956 revolution|
|The opposite side of Parliament|
|A view of Buda, from just in front of Parliament|
|The Museum of Ethnography. |
The inside was pretty spectacular, but as I didn't want to pay the photography fee, I cannot show you...
|The Fountain. Note the small group of older folks dancin' away.|
It was this group that got the rest of the spectators to join in!
The rest of the evening involved dinner, an unintentional nap, the return of Jacob, and a much needed good night's sleep!
Day two started fairly early, with a good cup of coffee and some breakfast prepared by my pal. From there, we took to the outdoors, where we intended on exploring Buda. Now, before I go any further, I feel it is important to point out here that prior to my departure, the weather forecasts showed very little sunshine, and a whole lot of cloudy/rainy days. Because of this, I opted not to bring sunscreen... Well, Day Two in Budapest was beautiful, hot, and sunny... and within a few hours, this little Orange Canadian was pretty red! But, this didn't stop me.
We walked across Margaret Bridge and wandered in search of one of Budapest's oldest cafés. Along the way we stumbled upon the Fisherman's Bastian, which was...epic. Jacob and I share a mutual appreciation for doing things on the cheap, so most of the tourist-related things here came with a cost...which neither of us seemed overly eager to participate in. But, it was nice to walk around, and eventually we found the café, where I enjoyed one of the best cups of coffee I've ever had! I guess time has enabled them to perfect the art of coffee making!
|The Fisherman's Bastian|
|A view of Pest, from the Bastian|
|Parliament from one side of the Palace|
|Pest from the other side of the Palace|
|Part of the Palace grounds|
After lunch, we continued the ultra-marathon of sightseeing in Budapest. We crossed a close by bridge (all of which were only recently* constructed, as a result of the lack of access during the winter months) and made out way to the Grand Market. It was pretty crazy, and difficult to take in. I think the Halifax market has attempted to be like this, but has not been overly successful in doing so. Nevertheless, it was really neat to walk through.
|The Grand Market|
|One of the Art Galleries|
|The other one|
|Yep...this is the Museum of Agriculture!!|
|Another shot of the Museum.|
The next morning was an early start, once again, where I parted ways with Jacob, and jumped on the newest underground route in Budapest. My destination: the train station. Where to? Stay tuned...
-the Orange Canadian
*In terms of the city's history
** Not true...I think. Not really sure what this sign means.