Our tour of eastern Europe started in Budapest. We got there two days early, which turned out to be a good thing – the night before the first day of the tour, the weather turned wet, so most of my good photos come from the time before the tour started.
I took about 500 photos in Budapest, so there’s a lot that I won’t be showing or talking about in this post. For those pictures I include, clicking on them will get you a larger version.
Budapest was originally two cities, separated by the Danube, with Buda on the western side, and Pest on the eastern side. We heard a number of references to “the Buda side” and “the Pest side” during our stay. Our hotel was on the Pest side, and we crossed the Danube several times, both on foot and on tour buses. We never did get around to taking a Danube cruise, though.
There were a number of beautiful and historic buildings in Budapest, including St. Stephen’s, the Dohány Street Synagogue (near which I had some wonderful honey-elderflower ice cream), and the Parliament building. Buda Castle was pointed out on the city tour we took, which was somewhat amusing, because it was destroyed during World War II. Some of its ruins are still visible near the Presidential Palace, which is the white building on the hilltop to the right of center in the photo below. The yellow building on its right is, IIRC, a music school, and the large building to its left with the green copper rooftops is a museum. My understanding is that Buda Castle covered that entire area (roughly from the center of the photo almost to the spire on the far right).
Some of the older buildings had interesting architectural details, such as these satyrs on a hotel exterior:
There were some whimsical decorative touches as well, like the entry to a teahouse near our hotel:
Also whimsical, or at least strange, is the astroturf topiary that we saw in a few places.
And who can doubt the whimsy of a statue of “Anonymous?” The tip of the pen appears polished because a legend has grown up around it that states that holding the tip of the pen will make you a better writer.
We enjoyed our time in Budapest. We had several very nice meals – we liked one restaurant enough we went back again – and we could have spent significantly longer seeing more of the city. Once the tour started, though, we had one day in Budapest with the group before we took an overnight train to Sighisoara, Romania.