Romance and Intrigue in Undiscovered Budapest
Europe’s most exciting river cruises begin in Budapest, Hungary. After just a few hours in this magical city you will begin to understand why. The most picturesque waterfront in Europe, and century’s worth of historic architecture will awe and delight.
Settled over a thousand years ago by the Celts, it has fallen to or been absorbed by ancient tribes, Christian kings, the Romans, the Turks, the Nazis, the Russians and now discovered by the American Tourist. Bisected by the Danube, this city exceeds the sum of its parts, with older Buda on one side, and more modern Pest on the other.
Known as the Castle district, Buda is a medieval town with streets dating back to the Middle Ages. Now a UNESCO world heritage site, restoration continues today. With highlights Fisherman’s Bastion, and the Mathias Church, your daily cruise tour quickly fills in the history.
Pest is modeled after the great cities of Europe. The Andrassy Utica, a wide avenue featuring ample shopping and entertainment, is perfect for strolling. The Parliament Building, situated beside the Danube, is constructed in a style reminiscent of London. The metro is the oldest in Europe. Perhaps due to decades of Communism, whole city blocks retain their charming 18th, and 19th century architecture.
Local landmarks in Pest include: St Stevens Basilica, Heroes’ Square, and the Dohány Street Synagogue the second largest in the world, and the Central Market Hall.
Famous for the Opera House; it is said that upon completion the then ruling Austrian Hapsburgs’ were displeased because the Budapest Opera House was more beautiful than their own. Still in use, take the tour or see a performance.
Although a member of the European Union, Hungary still retains its original currency, the florin. As a result, enjoy 5 star river view rooms at the Intercontinental Hotel for around $200 a night, or dinner for two for around $20 USD without drinks. Enjoy the bargain basement prices in this city.
With a regional cuisine all it own there are many new dishes to savor. Famous for Hungarian goulash, tender stewed beef with a mix of sweet paprika, potatoes and tomatoes, a mouth watering dish. Sample local favorites like duck cracklings’; local olives; sweet, and smoky summer sausage; all available at an affordable price.
Warm mineral waters bubble up beneath the city. More than 100 springs feed the local baths. With many open to the public, this is a must do. Among the most famous are the Gelert and Szechenyi Baths. Admission is $7.50 to view the baths, and $22 for a day pass.
At nightfall discover the romance of the city. Bisected by the Danube, twinkling lights shimmer on the water. The historic Chain Bridge is also aglow at night. Above the city many historic buildings are up lit, and appear reflected on the water. Flanking the rivers edge, meandering walkways invite an evening stroll, as violin music drifts through the air.
On our visit, October 23 dawned with excitement in the air. Bandstands were set up, streets were closed, and thousands of people participated. Flags flapped in the breeze, and locals, many dressed in suits, proudly marched by. The many hours long demonstration celebrated the Day of Remembrance, which commemorates the first student uprising in 1956 against the communists. Independent from the Soviet Union since only 1989, here patriotism is a tangible feeling.
For delicious authentic food, affordable prices, amazing architecture,
soothing Turkish baths, and enthusiastic people, there is nothing like a visit to Budapest. Allow yourself time to see and explore it all.