Up before the alarm and go down for breakfast. Alice didn’t want any so stayed in the room. Wasn’t great but at least I had a bit to eat. Then back up, a little packing, and down to the lobby.
We met our transport and headed off. Stopped and picked up an English lady and headed to the Danube. We were told to get on one bus, then another, then a lot of confusion… We eventually worked in out with two tours (3 hour and 4 hour) in English on the same bus.
We drove through Pest to start the tour – Pest is the flat side of the city with Buda (and Old Buda) being hilly. Past lots of old buildings and churches, and lots of places with musical history. We even went by the oldest synagogue in Europe. Jews were not persecuted in Hungary until 1944 when the Hungarian army stopped fighting. Franz Liszt composed much of his music here.
Then we crossed over to the Buda side and went up a high hill for an overview of the city – quite the spectacular view! This was where the Soviet war memorial had been (and an old castle) but all the names of the Soviets who had liberated the country were removed in the 1990s. Also pictures of the changes in the city over time. It was quite sunny and hot – and Alice wasn’t feeling too well. But good views of the city!
Back on the bus and off to the castle district – some of the buildings dating back to the 1300s. There was a beautiful church (Matthais Church) that had recently been restored as well as a number of museums – all closed on Monday (who would have thought that?). Alice was still not feeling well so I sent her into a café to rest and get a drink and snack. The group went off to see the castle walls and get a better view of the church. It was a mosque for 150 years during the Ottoman occupation, then turned back into a church. There was also a nice statue of St. Stephen, the first Hungarian King.
One of the museums was the Magdalene Tower where the last German soldiers were stationed in 1944. The Soviets bombed the place and it was finally renovated last year. They left one section with the original bullet holes to memorialize the Soviet assault. There was a statue of Mary and baby Jesus where the figures were quite rounded. The majority of it was done in the 1400s on a potter’s wheel! I walked around a bit taking pictures of statues, fountains, and the city, then back to find Alice had bought a salad with a very oily dressing – and she was still not feeling well – but better so we went over to the bus. It is really hot today – almost 90 a bit before noon!
Drove back across the Danube and circled the parliament building, several parks, and lots of nice structures, but Alice was really out of it. We made our way to Heroes Square and passed the restaurant we ate lunch at yesterday – found out it is the most famous restaurant in Budapest… Then the four hour tour people were getting off to tour the park, so Alice and I got off as well, thanked the guide, then started back to the hotel that was only a couple blocks away.
We walked about a block and Alice sat down and was in a small garden. We bought a coke and back to the hotel with no problems. The room still hasn’t been made up but we put out a do not disturb sign and took a break. Alice fell asleep.
I left the room and walked down to the subway – the #1 – oldest in the city, built in 1897. Got two tickets (750 FT, or about $3.745) and boarded the underground. Interesting car with lots of plastic but padded seats and all the hand loops were actual leather rather than plastic. You could tell they had been used a lot. Anyway, reached the second to the last station and wandered around in the station for a while trying to figure my way out of the place! Finally figured it out and wandered to the city center.
Large Ferris Wheel with capsules for six was at the center – along with a fence around a tree just outside the wheel covered in love locks. Didn’t see any local vendors but… I continued on looking at buildings and statues and came across the main market square – mostly tourist shops but lots of food (pig heads, sausages, beer, ice cream, lemonade, pretzels, beer, and beer). Many upscale shops selling antiques and religious icons (a six by six plaque was 45,000 ft, or about $225. Nice but jeeze.
Anyway, made a couple last minute purchases and then tried to find my way back. Ended up at the river – where I knew I shouldn’t be, then caught sight of the Ferris Wheel and made my way back there. From that I could find the underground, but once inside I ended up on the wrong platform… then found the right one at last. In about two minutes the train came. Ride back was uneventful except for a young couple hugging on the train. He was much taller than her and at one point he raised up her scarf and wiped his nose… True love.
Back at the station and up on the street. At the hotel and Alice was up and feeling a little better. We chatted for a bit then headed out to get something to eat – she wasn’t sure if she was sick or hungry. Stopped by the front desk and found we need to be in the lobby at 3:20 AM tomorrow for our ride. Sigh.
We decided to head for the park so wandered off. Alice saw BRGR and wanted to try it so I said fine – a real Hungarian meal… She got a Philly Cheese Steak and I got a Chicken! Seems my Chicken! Included a thin slice of chicken, fried onion rings, a fried egg, pickles, slaw, and a big chunk of lettuce. I think the chicken was the smallest part. It was OK tasting but not what I expected. You also had to pay for the mayonnaise and ketchup – fifty cents each.
After eating we went over to the souvenir sellers and got a couple last minute items, like a t-shirt. Then coming back we got an ice cream cone and headed back to the hotel. Since we have to get up for a 3:20 ride we decided to stay in and pack the rest of the evening. I’m almost done. The wheel on my suitcase is really a mess but I think it will make it back to the states. I only have to tote it to the elevator, the car, and the check in line.
One more day on the road!