Today our plan is to take the Blue Tour on the HOHO bus which is on the Buda side of the Danube. To get to Stop 1 we used our Metro cards to take the tram to the Chain Bridge and walked across the river. Stop 1 was Gellert Hill to see the Citadel, the Liberation Monument, and a panoramic view of the city. While the bus got us most of the way up, there was still a small hike to the top.
The monument is the most distinctive skyline feature of the city and was originally built by the Russians "to the memory of the liberating Soviet heroes erected by the grateful Hungarian people in 1945". After years of controversy, especially after the end of communism in 1989, the inscription was changed in 1993 to "all who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom and prosperity of Hungary". It is now a cherished symbol of freedom for the people of Budapest.
The views of the city and the Danube were spectacular as advertised and there were lots of people. Also, lots of booths with vendors selling their wares and lots of food. Judi C. decided to try a chimney cake which seem to be a pretty popular treat. It is made of dough baked in a cone shape with a caramalized sugar coating and filled with whip cream with a nutella coating on the top edge. You can pick from additional coatings like cinnamon or walnuts and lots of choices for toppings. Judi chose the Oreo one. It was quite tasty but a real challenge to eat before all the whip cream started melting. And for some reason, the bottom is cut off so it is open which adds to the mess. But Judi managed to finish it wth 10 napkins and a visit to the restroom to wash her hands. She said it was interesting but she would never do it again.
It was a beautiful day but quite warm. We grabbed a couple cold drinks and got back on the Blue Bus to head to Stop 3, the Royal Castle Garden. Unfortunately the bus driver did not stop there and we ended back at Stop 1. Fortunately it wasn't that far of a walk and we got to see a few other interesting things and found a lovely restaurant on the river for lunch--caprese and ceasar salads with fresh brewed peach green tea complete with peach slices.
Our plan was to stroll the garden and then walk back to Stop 1 to catch the shuttle to the Royal Castle at the top of the hill. To reach the garden we had to go up steps to the first level of two collonades. As we kept walking we found an escalator that took us part way up and we just kept strolling until we reached the castle. We enjoyed the views and the inner courtyard and then were surprised by 4 mounted guards presenting themselves before riding back down the hill. We also found the huge Turul statue, a mythical bird of Magyar folktales the led the Hungarian migration from the steppes of Central Asia in the ninth century to present day Budapest. Today it is a symbol of Hungarian pride.
A short walk from the castle is the 800-year-old St. Mathias Church and the Fisherman's Bastion, a rampart with seven pointy towers representing the seven Magyar tribes and the tents of these nomadic tribes. Judi C. wanted to stop by the church to get details on a free organ concert tomorrow night and again there were more stunning views. We had hoped to see the church interior but there was a wedding. We usually see one bride in each of the cities we visit, but this time we saw three. One wedding and two brides being photographed. Understandable as it is a beautiful setting. But we will be able to see the church interior tomorrow when we come back for the concert.
We were quite pleased with ourselves that we figured out how to get back to our apartment by taking the 16 bus down the hill to the 19 tram back to the Freedom Bridge and the 47 tram to Kalvin Square. Then it was just a short walk to restaurant row for dinner. I had seen one restaurant that listed cabbage rolls and wanted to try it. Our luck with restaurants ran out and both of us were disappointed with our meals and didn't eat much. Before calling it a night we walked down to the Freedom Bridge to see the night lights. The bridges and all the big buildings were all lit up and it was just beautiful. What a way to end a day of beautiful weather and spectacular sights. JB