Budapest was definitely on of my favorite stop during this big trip. Amazing variety of things to see around the city – reminders of the rich history of the country. We spent 2 full-on days exploring the city. Day1 started at Buda Hill before walking south towards Gellert Hill and crossing the Danube River to admire the grandiose buildings beautifully lit up at night. Day2 was filled with more walking as we kicked off from the Great Market Hall towards the Parliament, and walking along famous Andrassy Boulevard towards the Heroes’ Square.
Enjoyed the time we spent at exploring Buda Hill and its old charm. Marveled at the beauty of Matthias Church, enjoyed the stunning views of Budapest city from Fishermen’s Bastion, soaked up some local knowledge at the History Museum as we wandered through the old rooms and passageways etc. The sunny weather at Buda Hill was also a happy change after the gloominess at both Munich & Vienna.
Great Market Hall was another favorite place for us. During our first visit, we came just in time to savour some apple strudels and langos, deep fried pastry topped with smothered with sour cream, ham and shredded cheese – YUMMY! During our 2nd visit the next morning, we sampled Goulash soup and more sweet treats.
Another interesting find during our stay was sampling palinka at the 3rd Budapest Palinka Promenade along the Pest bank of Danube River. The liquor is distilled from a variety of fruits and drank neat as either aperitif or digestif. After purchasing a special palinka glass for EUR1, i went around to the many stalls set up by the local distillers to sample their offerings. A drink best savoured for its smell and taste, and can be quite harsh due to its high alcoholic content. Pretty amazed that i managed to keep the palinka glass intact throughout the rest of my journey.
The highlight for me in Budapest must be the visit to the House of Terror, formerly the HQ for Hungarian Nazis and then communist terror organisations up to 1956. Spread over 4 floors, the multimedia presentations were varied and dramatic to commemorate the victims and the horrors they went through. One of the more memorable portions was the elevator ride from 1st floor down to the Basement, where the prison cells were kept. We were inside a see through glass elevator compartment engulfed in darkness. During the slow descent, the plasma TV in front showed us an interview of a man, who used to clean the torture chamber, telling the process of how people were executed by garroting. The way he retold his story in a matter-of-factly tone was haunting for me. At the end of the visit, I was deeply moved at how such atrocities could have taken place and lasted for so long.
Accommodation – Camping Haller http://www.hallercamping.hu (nearest camping site to city – can get noisy because of its proximity to the main road)