I realize that I left everyone hanging after Copenhagen! Never fear, I will be writing today to catch y’all up on The Grand Tour de Europe as Anna and Taylor are calling it! I didn’t want to take my computer on the road with us and writing that Copenhagen entry on my phone was hard enough! Plus from my computer, pictures are easily installed which is what everyone is really here for! 🙂
We arrived in Budapest from the Copenhagen airport around 11am. I didn’t know a lot about Budapest and Hungary in general before we landed there. We found the Metro to ride into town and I quickly began to question whether we were on the Metro or a Time Machine because what we were riding was straight out of the Cold War. See for yourself-
It felt and looked like we were in a tin can. A vintage tin can, but a tin can.
Once we changed to a different line, we were able to see what Hungary is like now. Albeit they are still recovering from Communism and the Cold War, but in parts of town you could see growth. More on that later.
After grabbing a city map and having lunch (where I found quesadillas on the menu and definitely ordered them, they were good), we decided our first stop was going to be the House of Terror Museum on Andrassy Boulevard. The House of Terror is housed in the same place where the Hungarian Arrow Cross Party (Socialist) and the Nazi Party (Communist) were based when they each ruled Hungary for long periods of time. The museum is here because it literally was a house of terror when each party was ruling and the current government of Hungary doesn’t want to ignore the past or tear the building down. I had no idea what the Communist history of Hungary was before the House of Terror. I can say now that the people of Hungary have had a difficult time since 1919, the first free elections weren’t held in Hungary until 1990. In some of the surviving buildings we could see why Budapest was considered the Paris of the East, but the history is so very twisted.
We were very fortunate to have people to stay with in Budapest. Anna’s family friends, the Seelys, kindly opened their home to us for 2 nights. Both Mr. and Mrs. Seely are from Texas and have decorated their house in the Texas Ranch Style. We felt so at home once we sat down to a family dinner of Chicken Tortilla Soup, chips, and salsa. I didn’t so much enjoy the A&M decorations all over the house, but I had a great Rangers baseball discussion with both Seelys which made up for it! We all agreed that the World Series still hurts.
The Seelys are missionaries and have been in Budapest for 13 years. Mrs. Seely was nice enough to drive us to the Metro every morning and then pick us up again for dinner. They live a little way out of the city in a suburb close to their church. Because of these car trips, we were able to see the “real” Hungary. They live in a “better off” village that still struggles considerably. Mrs. Seely told us that labor is insanely cheap because the economy is still recovering. People who are doctors or accountants live in a one bedroom apartment and they’re well off. Hospitals in Hungary will maybe give you the strongest medicine they have which is Advil. Otherwise they just leave you alone. We spent most of our time on Andrassy aka the Main Street because the government had revamped that immediately. A few blocks either direction of the street were also beautiful. We had no problem finding places to eat or snack as we walked the streets.
After the House of Terror we went to Buda Castle! We crossed the Danube River over to Buda and quickly decided to ride the tram up the hill instead of walking. Mrs. Seely didn’t pick us up until 6:30pm… We wore our backpacks all day. To say that it was brutal walking with them on is an understatement haha
The view from Buda Castle was spectacular. We were there for sunset in the rain which made our pictures even better.
**Warning-ALL my pictures feature the same jacket/scarf/purse combo because it was so cold all the time.
The Castle was very beautiful and the gardens built on each level were interesting to walk through. I loved standing at the wall and looking out onto the other side of the river.
By the end of the Castle Trek, we were all bending over to get the weight of our backpacks off our shoulders. Thanks to Taylor for the picture because the rest of us couldn’t stand upright anymore.
On Day 3, second day in Budapest, we were Backpack-Free and ready to see the city. After getting suggestions from Mrs. Seely, we set off down Andrassy to Lotz Teram a book cafe where I had the best hot chocolate of my life. It was so thick and chocolate-y that I’m not convinced that they didn’t just boil down a chocolate bar.
I had a slice of a traditional Hungarian dessert, Dobo cake, to go with my hot chocolate. Since it was raining outside (When isn’t it raining here?), we took our time at Lotz Teram.
We eventually climbed to the top of St. Stephen’s Basilica for a bird’s eye view of Budapest and the world’s largest Parliament. It did not disappoint.
After eating and the basilica, we walked down Andrassy to Heroes Square and stumbled upon the Hungarian Agriculture Museum! The Museum was closed because it was Monday (a problem we ran into quite frequently, Europe kinda shuts down in February), but it was such an ornate building (read-castle) that I took a lot of pictures of it.
A visit to Parliament was up next…. The building is even more massive than it looks!
To close the day we had the best gelato that I’ve ever eaten and certainly the most beautiful!
The next morning Mr. Seely drove us to our train and saw us off to Vienna! But first we took a picture with our Hungarian mom after she gave us tubes of the spices so that we can make Hungarian Goulash when we get home!