Moving right along in our trip, we have our first full day of Budapest. I would like to say we got up early to seize the day but let's be honest, we slept until about 10 or 11. Here is a little tip about traveling long distances, don’t plan much for the first day!
Our plans were simple, we had bought tickets for the Hop-On Hop-Off bus which allows you to get on one of the tour buses at a stop and then get on a different one when you have seen that sight or you can stay on and ride all around the city and listen to a recorded guide describe the sites you are seeing. We had plans to use it to get an overlay of the city and what it had to offer.
I had a rough itinerary planned out but this was helpful because we did have one day where nothing was really planned. I have found that it is good to keep one day open like that to have a day just to explore the city. Since we normally travel during the Christmas time, the day we put aside for exploring is Christmas day. Most things are not open and public transportation may or may not be running on Christmas so we have been forced to have that free day, but I still wanted one on this trip. So I did it....why are you questioning it?? Why am I defending it??
Anyhow.....moving away from my ramblings...
First business of order, lunch! So our second official meal in Budapest.....Middle Eastern! We walked in and here was the menu.
Somehow we got across what we wanted and we were not disappointed with our chicken (we think) gyros (still not sure if it pronounced yeer-oh or jie-roh)! Oh and the food was much better than the picture portrays!
One of the stops for the Hop-Off Hop-On was near the hotel so after eating we hunted it down and hopped on. We rode through several of the stops and then decided to hop off at Castle Hill for a short time. The views of the Pest and Buda sides were stunning! Budapest use to be two separate cities separated by the Danube River. They eventually grew together to become one city.
Pictures of the Buda side. The first one is just a general view and the second one is a closer view of the Buda Castle.
Next the Danube River and two of the eight bridges that cross it. There use to be only a pontoon bridge and if the river was frozen (which blows my mind being from Texas) it wasn't usable. Count István Széchenyi learned of his father's death in Vienna and couldn't cross the river to go to the funeral for weeks because the river was frozen. He vowed this would never happen again so he commissioned and paid for the first permanent bridge to be built. The first bridge in the picture is his bridge. It is called the Széchenyi Chain Bridge.
In the picture above on the right side near the bridge is a building, it is called Parliament and is the government building of Hungary. Below is a close up of it. We are now looking at the Pest side of Budapest.
An overview of the Pest side.
A close up of St. Istvan Basilica. (I love this picture!)
Me and my man!
A souvenir stand in the Castle Hills on the Buda side of Budapest.
Instead of staying at the square and getting back on the bus at that stop we decided we would walk to the next stop. I am glad we did. It is easier to see sites on foot than speeding by on the bus. But first we needed an espresso and pogacsa (Hungarian cheese pastry) break!
Feeling energized we continued on. We saw a life size replica of a Transylvanian castle called Vajdahunyad Castle (good luck pronouncing that!) from afar and started walking towards it.
We passed through City Park which is HUGE and contains the castle and a small lake. The lake made for some interesting pictures. The first one is another one of my favorites and the second one just cracks me up and seems so unfair to that poor woman!
We made it to the entrance of the castle compound and met up with this lion. I took a bunch of pictures of lions all around Budapest. I guess people from Budapest really like their lions, but really do you blame them? Look how cute he is trying to be ferocious!
Inside the castle gate there was so much to look at and so much decor. It was amazing. We didn't go into the actual castle because it was now the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture and well, that didn't interest us.
Here are some of the beauty that is within the gates of the castle.
We added a dessert so that we didn’t just have free tap water and free goulash and then leave. I personally, would have been the cheapskate and would have walked out free and clear but my husband felt guilty (and wanted a dessert) so I caved (like he had to twist my arm). We chose the pear braised in red wine stuffed with blackberries and pistachios because it sounded fancy and we are just simple hillbillies from Texas.
There were people working on the boat who were telling the history of things we were seeing. The cruise was very nice and I am glad we got to take it.
After the cruise, we walked back to the hotel and we passed a small grocery store. If you have read any of my other travel blogs you know that I LOVE grocery stores in foreign places! It is one of the few times Frankie will ask if I want to actually go to a grocery store because he HATES going to them with me in America (read that Wal-Mart). I really like seeing what people outside of America get to eat. Take for instance these chips. I swear, Hungarians put paprika on everything! You it's good though! They know what they are doing!
I don’t know if taking pictures in grocery stores is a no-no or not so I am discreet about it. Apparently my discreteness looked like stealing to the security guard as I replaced my camera back into my purse (guess he thought I was trying to sneak something out). As we were walking out he stopped me and started talking to me in Hungarian. I thought it was like the airport where they randomly check people so I wasn't scared or worried about it but then he managed to say in English that he was the police (still questioning if he was police or just security) and he needed to look in my purse. I still wasn't too worried because I knew I hadn’t done anything and I was still slightly confused by the whole thing. He saw nothing (because I don't steal) and let us go. Want to see the picture that I believe got me in trouble?
We made it back to the hotel without further problems and called it a night.