As we continued our adventure to Budapest, our first interaction with the Hungarian people was not a welcome one. We traveled by train and an angry conductor who boarded only ten minutes before the end of our journey insisted that we buy tickets from him, as my electronic tickets "wouldn't be accepted at customs". After a bit of negotiation, we settled on an eighteen Euro amount for all three of us, and met no customs officials upon our exit. Lesson learned: print your ticket type when traveling between countries, if even by train.
The beauty of Budapest stole our hearts right away as we started to explore this city split by the river Danube. Our first day in the city, we explored the Hungarian National Gallery. The building is set at the top of the Buda side of the city, and we admired the views outside before visiting the Gallery. After our visit, we took the very short funicular down the hill, which was very overrated in our opinion!
We had heard from our friends and family that the baths of Budapest should not be missed. We decided to visit the city's oldest and largest baths, the Gellert Baths. The building was very beautiful and ornate and the baths were busy on the day that we visited. Traveler tip: be sure to rent a changing room instead of a locker, bring your own swim cap and flip flops! We enjoyed the healing waters, and my mom reported that her arthritis felt better for the next few days!
In the Christmas spirit, we looked forward to our stop at the Budapest Christmas Market. The items at this market were so unique and handmade, we purchased quite a few gifts. It helped us stay warm, brrr! I also snapped a few detail shots around the square of the city.
Budapest is split by the river Danube and one of the best ways to see the beautiful architecture is a river cruise. Later that day, we hopped a boat to see the sites! We should have arrived a little earlier, as all the inside seats were taken, we were stuck on the top! It was VERY chilly but we saw the sights at sunset.
On the next day, we wandered into St Stephen's Basilica, which houses a mummified hand of the saint. It was a stunning example of ornate design, and we enjoyed a choir rehearsal while we visited.
Benjamin enjoyed a reindeer chocolate donut outside of the church.
We also visited Central Market Hall which is housed in a historic building. Home to many food vendors down below, and souvenir shops and clothiers above.
Although the Budapest Parliament building was not open to visitors while we were in town, we stopped by on more than one occasion to take a photo of the outside. Very near to this building, is the site of a memorial with iron shoes near the Danube. The site gives remembrance to 3,500 people, 800 of them Jewish, that were shot during the Arrow Cross terror. People were marched to the river and asked to take off their shoes before they were shot in the head, and the river washed their bodies away.
Walking around the Buda side of the city later that day, we snapped a couple of beautiful photos, visited the Houdini Museum, and wandered into the most beautiful church I have ever visited. Located at the top of the hill, Matthias Church is as beautiful outside as it is ornate on the inside. The entire church is painted in beautiful patterns, with gold accents. I was in awe of the craftsmanship and the design!
On our last day in Prague, we visited The New York Cafe, which my mom read about in a traveler's book. It was a beautiful last stop! The live music, ornate decor, and friendly service was only surpassed by our very tasty desserts!
We loved the city of Budapest and the beautiful architecture. It was time for a change, so off to Rome!