Monday, July 9, 2012

Castle Hills - That's Where I Wanna Be - Budapest

June 7th - Thursday

The day before, we had taken a bus tour of Budapest, today we went back to Castle Hill and explored it more in depth.  First, things first, breakfast!  Our hotel, Budapest Museum Central, offered us a voucher for around $4 to have breakfast at a cafe just a short walk from the hotel, called Bali Cafe.  We presented our vouchers and were given a list of about six options to choose from.  We both chose the omelet with cheese which also came with coffee, juice, bread, and assorted vegetables as shown below (including the devil's food-onions).

Eggs and vegetables for breakfast - Budapest

Happy with food in our bellies we headed to the nearby stop for the Hop-On Hop-Off bus.  We had bought a 48 hour ticket and knew it went to Castle Hills so we decided to just take it instead of public transportation.  We waited.  We waited some more.  I took pictures while we waited even longer.

Sting in concert poster Budapest

Super Hamburger Delivery vehicle Budapest

Three buses came while we waited, but one was packed full and the other two were transfer only. The transfer one meant they were only going to Stop One and then we would have to get off to get on a different bus that would then go around to all the stops.  The problem with this was the fact that we wanted one of the stops near the end and we were at Stop Eight already.  We decided to brave the underworld of the city metro instead of waiting any longer. At this writing there were only three metro lines, several tram lines, and many buses to get you around the city.  We decided to get a 7 day ticket that was good for the metro, trams, and buses.  It is good for unlimited rides on any of the mentioned means of transportation for 7 days.  Perfect!  We used the life out of those little tickets!  We had to show them when we got on the metro in MOST places, but as far as buses and trams there was only one time someone came by asking to see it.  If you are caught without a ticket you are fined on the spot, so be sure to have it, even if it is not checked that often.   

There were signs that dealt with public transportation that cracked me up.  Let me show you.

Don't these signs showing which line of the metro to take remind you of Transformers??

Metro signs looks like Transformers Budapest

I mean look at this....

Exactly!!!  Awh, the memories of childhood!

Moving on.  I would like to interpret the next one for you. When there are no words, I think that means you can make it say whatever you can justify. I will start from the top left and work my way across and then go to the next row.  These are things you can or cannot do on public transportation in Budapest.

what you can and cannot do on the bus in Budapest

Top Row

  1. No triple scoop ice cream in a cone.  Less or more scoops are fine and cups are fine no matter the scoop number.
  2. No old fashion metal gas cans.  You can bring on the newer plastic ones though.  Really were are trying to move away from our Communist past so let's all step it up a notch.
  3. No devices that omit sonic waves.  We just can't have that.
  4. No smoking....duh.
Bottom Row
  1. Hillbillies are not allowed to drink their moonshine on the bus.  And you thought hillbillies only came from the southern hilly states of the good ole USA!
  2. You must hold onto your baton at all times with two hands!  It is for your safety, the safety of others and the safety of your baton.
  3. Your dog must have a spider web covering it nose and mouth.  The spiders on the board of public transportation in Budapest require this, we could not negotiate this with them.
  4. Don't pick up someone else's trash.  That is just nasty.

The next one has no words either so it is up to me to tell you what they meant.

Public transportation sign about jumpdrives and purses Budapest

  1. Again no smoking.
  2. No charred single patty hamburgers with a sesame seed bun.
  3. Men with VERY large mustaches must keep their VERY large jump drives (I had one that looked just like that!) away from their bodies and not should not be snuggling with it.  That's just weird.
  4. A word to the women.  If you are dressed all up in your pearls and a creepy hand with an exclamation mark over it gets near your purse here is what to do.  Say, "Oh!" and through your arms up so the creepy hand with an exclamation mark over it can have easier access to your purse.  I mean what did you expect us to tell you?  Fight the creepy hand  with an exclamation mark over it?  Talk to the board spiders!
Then there is this one.  My absolute favorite.  There are words and I don't think I could have done a better job!

What you can take on the metro in Budapest

I can just see it now.  Oh we are sorry you have two bundles of wrapped tree-saplings.  Forget it.  You have to walk....

I understand that most of this blog has been just about the transportation, but we made it to our destination, Castle Hill!  This is the more expensive side of Budapest and the oldest.  It has fantastic views of the Chain bridge.

Chain Bridge Budapest

Let me zoom in on the lion that you can just make out in the picture above.

Lion on Chain Bridge Budapest

One of the ways of getting up the hill is to take the bus.  Another is walking or a taxi.  There is yet another way to get up this hill, you can take the Funicular!  It costs about $4 to ride up in it and look, it even has the word "fun" embedded right in it! 

Funicular to Castle Hill-Chain Bridge

No matter how you get to the top of the hill, you will still get to the top of the hill.  (That was deep!)  One of the sights you will see is the mythical Turul (butt-ugly) bird. According to legend this bird led the Hungarian migration from Asia in the ninth century by dropping his sword where Hungary now stands, indicating that this place was to be their new permanent home.

Turul bird front

Some other sights you will see are:

The gateway leading into the area of the Buda Castle (also called Royal Palace) which now houses the Hungarian National Art Gallery

Gateway to Royal Palace Budapest and the Turul bird

The dome of Buda Castle right above the entrance to the Hungarian National Gallery.

Royal Palace dome Budapest

You can see this statue from many places in Budapest.  It is on the Buda side but is very large and on a hill so it is a very prominent statue!  It is called the Statue of Liberty or sometime Freedom Statue.  She was built to celebrate the liberation from the Nazi's by the Soviets.  While most Soviet era statues were taken outside of town she remains and has become a symbol of freedom from all oppressors of Hungary.

Lady Liberty Overlooking Budapest

Behind Buda Castle you will find the King Matthias Fountain.  It has been called the Trevi Fountain of Budapest although it is much smaller than Trevi!  The man at the very top is King Matthias doing what he loved to do.  Hunt. He was on an incognito trip this time when he met and wooed Ilonka who is shown in the bottom right hand corner of the picture. He left to return to Budapest and she tracked him down. She found out he was the king.  Realizing, that because of his position, they could never be together, she committed suicide.

King Matthias Fountain Budapest

Let's move on to happier things that you will see.  In several locations you will see a raven with a ring in its mouth.  In the 1400's Hungary was looking for a new king after the previous one had died.  They thought of Matthias but he was in Prague at the time.  Legend says that is his mother sent for him with a raven with a ring in its mouth.  This raven supposedly flew from Transylvania to Prague without stopping and later became incorporated into the family crest.

Raven and Ring - Symbol of King Matthais Budapest

We saw all of these flags and said why are they flying the Italian flag?  Let me show you the difference. could we have ever gotten those confused!

Hungarian flags

I am not sure where this was exactly except somewhere on Castle Hill, but I really like this huge Hungarian ceramic teapot.

Large Hungarian porcelain kettle

This has got to be my absolute favorite picture of the entire trip.  I love the colors.  I love the wooden fence. I love the name of the road.  Happy sigh!  It is part of the Golden Eagle Pharmacy Museum.

Anna Utca budapest

This is the sign for the Golden Eagle Pharmacy Museum.  Arany Sas Patika means Golden Eagle Pharmacy.  

Golden Eagle Pharmacy Museum Sign Budapest

It only cost about $2 to go in and look around.  If you are into medical history you would enjoy it.  It was worth $2 for us to go in even though we have no interest in medical history.  They do have English translations of the things you are looking at, and that was very useful.

Scene from Golden Eagle Pharmacy Museum Budapest

Our day was no where near done, but this post is getting rather long.  In future posts I will talk about our journey to Matthias Church, Fishermen's Bastion, Hospital in the Rock, St Istvan's Basilica, the 1956 Uprising Memorial, Shoes on the Danube Memorial, and then the restaurant that concluded our day of June 7th, Thursday (since what I have talked about so far wasn't enough for one day)!