My sister, my sister’s friend and myself got into Budapest on Sunday afternoon, however we were all tired enough that our first day in Budapest was spent mostly in the apartment. My sister and I wanted to go see a particular opera show, but we had gotten into the city too late and thus missed it. We ended up just having a little walk around the local area around our hotel that evening, and ended up stumbling upon St Stephens Basilica. Actually, the Basilica could be seen from our hotel room it was that close to us, but we didn’t realise at first. Nor did we appreciate how huge it was. We were quite taken aback by our first sighting.
We started our day early on Monday, planning to meander our way to the Hungarian Parliament building, going past St Stephens basilica again to see it in the daytime and then through Liberty Square. St Stephens Basilica was just as impressive in the day time. Liberty Square was a simple park, but the buildings around it were amazing. We were especially taken with the gothic look of the grey building that clearly had not been cleaned in many years. Honestly, there are so many fascinating buildings in Budapest though. Parliament itself was incredible. Much like the Basilica, it was hard to believe what you were seeing. We went to the tourist centre to book our tour, then with time to spare until it we went for a little walk along Danube to see the shoes of Danube. It was very cold next to the river, but sunny. The views were amazing – on one side, the Parliament building, and on the other side we could see the Buda Palace, Matthias Church and the Fishermen’s Bastion. Our progress towards the shoes was slow as we took picture after picture.
We reached the shoes, took a few more pictures then walked back to the area next to Parliament and found a cute pub to try Hungarian food for the first time. I tried paprika chicken with Hungarian dumplings. It was quite heavy, definitely broke my no-dairy diet, but was very tasty. Unfortunately it took ages to get our food, so we had to rush back to Parliament to make the tour. We just made it. The tour was interesting but a bit rushed and tense, as we were part of a large group and there was lots of security keeping you moving and consequently, it was impossible to really define your own space and hard to take anything in. At the end of the tour there was also a small exhibition on the background of the museum which was very interesting and actually, the part I enjoyed most as it was nice to take a breather from the crowds and the exhibit itself was very informative. It was fascinating to see how long it took to construct the Parliament Building and how sophisticated it was for its time. The central heating/air conditioning system was particularly notable for the time. For the air conditioning, air was cooled using water and then vents in the building would let the cold air inside to the cool the building. Similarly they had radiators which were warmed using steam heated from a furnace, which was placed away from the building to protect the buildings architecture. Sadly, the designer did not live to see its completion. We then wanted to see museum of Hungarian legislation which was part of the tourist centre, but had to queue ages to enter. We were thus quite tired by the time we finally managed to get in and the audio guide was confusing so I didn’t really take much in. It was reasonably interesting- as I was not familiar with this part of the world or its history- but the Hungarian National Museum we would see later would prove much more cohesive.
Afterwards we headed back to our apartment, to rest for a bit and eat some rather delicious cake we picked up at a small bakery. I wish I knew what cake it was, as it was delicious (Though again, not eating dairy really wasn’t working out for me and only on day 2…)