Budapest, the capitol of Hungary, consists of Buda and Pest (PEsh), one on each side of the Danube River. Buda sits on the hilly west bank and has all the cool castles, big churches, and thermal baths. Pest on the opposite side is flat and holds the parliament building and the shopping district. Several bridges span the Danube, connecting the two sides. There's a lot of history in this town. Part of the old Eastern block, there are remnants of the old-world culture as evidenced by soldiers with machine guns pulling cars over at random to search for contraband. There are also many signs of western culture - McDonalds and Burger Kings everywhere.
The language here is SOOO different from the Romance or Germanic languages of Western Europe. We had no idea how to pronounce anything, and there's no chance whatsoever of understanding their native tongue. Even the locals say the language was invented by the devil! Fortunately, most people understand English or German. We did pick up one Hungarian word though. Apparently, people greet each other with "Siya", which means both hello and goodbye. A little confusing at first...
During our trip, we managed to sample some of the local culture in the form of a traditional Hungarian meal. Paprika is the local specialty. They put it in everything. Hungarian goulash tastes marvelous, much better than your ordinary beef stew. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get a massage at one of the many thermal baths in town - they can only give massages in the morning on Sundays!
In front of the Millennium Monument in Budapest's Heroes' Square (Hösök Tere). Archangel Gabriel watches over the scene from the top of his tall pedestal. At the base of the monument is the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Must be a fake one since I didn't see the eternal flame anywhere. Interestingly, the monument was built to celebrate the country's previous millennium from (896-1896). Old country!
A view of the Danube, which is far from blue. It's actually a muddy brownish color. Buda on the left bank and Pest to the right.
Four huge stone lions guard the most famous bridge in Budapest, the Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd, see what I mean about the language?). The sculptor was so proud of his work that he challenged the town people to find any fault with them; and if they did, he would jump from the bridge into the river. Well, someone found that the lions didn't have tongues, so he plunged to his death from the bridge. (Idiot!)
Tom and Jeanette at the fountain of blood in a labyrinth under the Royal Palace on Castle Hill. Actually, it's wine coming out of the fountain - the local specialty wine called Bull's Blood. There's neither bull nor blood in the wine, but it is very red.
The neo-Gothic Matthias Church on the Buda hill near the Royal Palace.
There I am next the headless horseman statue in Trinity Square (Szentháromság tér) near Fisherman's Bastion. Actually, he's not headless, but we did manage to decapitate him with the camera.
Care to go for a cruise in the boat? That is a real life-sized boat floating in the Danube.
There's me with the Hungarian parliament building. It kinda reminds me of the parliament building in London with all the spires on top. No, that is NOT my artwork on the wall.
Tom and Doug putting their negotiating skills to work on Váci út, the downtown main drag. (Hint: they are too expensive for you guys!)
A fountain in the City Park (Városliget) in Budapest.
Mansion on the lake in the park.
Ahh... Just enough time to do a little paddle boating before we hit the trail again. Nice thumb in the picture!