Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Budapest: Part I

Just before the busy run up to Christmas, my brother, sisters and myself thought it would be nice to get away and treat Mum to a little break away in Budapest, Hungary. Cheap enough Ryan Air flights are easy to come by so we've been looking forward to this little adventure for a while now.

With pick up arranged at the airport we soon found ourselves in our huge three bedroom apartment right in the heart of town and wasted no time getting out the door to explore the local area before things started to shut down for the night.

As luck would have it, the Christmas market was right around the corner on Vörösmarty Square and it was huge, with approximately 100 stores selling a vast range of products and a centre section dominated by all kinds of food, more on this to follow later. Once we'd had our fill we decided we'd have an early night so we could get an early start in the morning. With only the weekend and Monday morning we were going to have to make the most of the daylight hours to fit everything planned in.

Christmas Market

Saturday morning we were up early and out the door exploring the Pest side of Budapest first. For those who don't  know, the city is split by the Danube, with the hilly west side called Buda and the flat east side called Pest and it wasn't until 1873 that they unified to become one big city: Budpaest.

Anyway, proceedings started with a pleasant walk down Váci Street in the fresh air, one of the most well-known in Budapest, mainly due to it's shopping. It is a long pedestrian only zone with countless souvenir shops and quaint cafes selling the usual Hungarian fare. Just be sure that when you buy a deck of cards and the pack says 32, but the guys says there's 52, that you call him out on it, just ask Egan or else you'll end up spending the evening unsuccessfully trying to play Hungarian card games.

Walking down Váci Street

At the end of the street you come to the Central Market Hall, Központi Vásárcsarnok, which is the largest indoor market in Budapest. As with any market, fresh fruits and vegetables are prevalent but where we have our butchers shouting out today's deals, only the customers are shouting here as they vie for the days best deals and barge their way past one another to do so. So many cured sausages and fresh cheeses everywhere, difficult to walk through the place and not put your hand in your pocket at least once.

Central Market Hall from outside

Central Market Hall, Központi Vásárcsarnok, Budapest
Central Market Hall

Once out the building we crossed Liberty Bridge, Szabadság híd, to the Buda side of the city so we could check out what Gellért Hill had to offer. The obvious highlights here are Budapest's very own Statue of Liberty, Szabadság Szobor and the citadel, Citadella, not to mention the Gellért Hill Cave Church, Sziklatemplom, which can be seen whilst crossing the bridge.

The hill itself has many winding paths and stairs that lead to the top, with no obvious route other than to pick the path you feel leads best to the Statue of Liberty which is pretty much always in your sights regardless of the surrounding trees. Once at the top there are many vantage points where one can get great panoramic views of the Danube and the Pest side of Budpaest, with the Parliament Building and St. Stephen's Basilica being the obvious standouts among the crowd.

Walking around the citadel, you can go into the museum there if you want, you then have views of the Buda side of the city, again the Danube dominates most of the backdrop. Walking down, as always, is significantly easier as you continue to walk around with the Danube on your right, with the steps eventually bringing you to the St. Gellért Monument overlooking Elisabeth  Bridge, Erzsébet híd. 

Gellért Hill Cave Church Budapest
Gellért Hill Cave Church
Statue of Liberty Budapest Szabadság Szobor
Statue of Liberty
View of the Danube from Gellért Hill
View of the Danube from Gellért Hill

St. Gellért Monument Budapest
St. Gellért Monument (on the right)

With the forecasted rain holding off and the air fresh but not too chilly, we eventually we ran out of daylight with the girls enjoying all the shopping there was on offer. However, another trip to the Christmas market served as a decent end to the day with more drinks and reminiscing back at the apartment.

Getting their haggle on

A very enjoyable first full day in Budapest then with a busy schedule for Sunday including a visit to City Park and the baths there, a wine and cheese festival, a boat ride on the Danube and a fancy dinner in a Michelin star restaurant. Roll on Budapest: Part II.

1 comment:

  1. Your second picture of the market hall is really great. Emphasizes the gorgeous architecture.