Saturday, November 6, 2010

Budapest- Day 1

After a long day of traveling on Thursday, I was very happy to be at Amy's kick-ass apartment and to have the day to explore Budapest- a city I'd never been to before. The cab ride in made me excited to see the sights and the time in Ireland made me anxious to do it on foot!

I hadn't done any research on Budapest at all. Similar to how Ireland panned out, I kinda just felt like I'd take things day by day and let things fall into place. So after I rolled outta bed around 9am (hard time falling asleep the night before), I slowly got myself pulled together and was out the door by 11am.

My plan was to walk around a bit and then come back and have the afternoon to relax, read and catch up on my travel updates.

Nearly six hours later, after hitting up almost every major site on foot, I slowly climbed the 105 steps to Amy's apartment, happily toed off my sneakers immediately upon entering and had about 27 minutes of rest before Amy got home from school.

I really like Budapest. I guess I'm surprised. But only because I really didn't know what to expect. Plus, I'm not a city girl. So I've been pleasantly surprised at how much I like it here. After I get over the coldness of the people (which is just so different from Ireland) and the fact that they speak a different language, there's so much to like here.

I walked along the water and over the Chain Bridge.

From there I headed toward St. Stephen's Basilica.

I got there exactly at noon, so the church bells told me. I walked around inside and snapped a bunch of pictures. But churches, especially ones as grand as this one, are seemingly impossible to accurately capture. Here's one shot of the ceiling:

One especially creepy thing inside this particular church is in The Chapel of the Holy Right- which is behind the sanctuary. This is where the right hand of the first Hungarian king, St. Stephen is held in a delicately ornated reliquary. What I love is that I just blindly followed the small crowd of people and snapped a bunch of pictures not even knowing what it was until I got home and Amy read up on it. I will say it's probably the most beautiful place for a really old hand to be stored. But still- creepy!

After taking a short break to write out some postcards, I headed out on foot for parts unknown. I had a map Amy provided, and while it was great, it wasn't exactly...detailed.

And with everything being in Hungarian, it was a little bit of a crap shoot. But, again, the great thing about traveling on your own is it's okay to wander and to get lost. I like that about being on my own- I don't have to feel pressure or anxiety about being in the right place at the right time. Yesterday, the only thing I was aiming for was to at least be home at the same time as Amy.

I found myself behind the Parliament.

Then back over the Chain Bridge where I decided to head up to Buda Castle, Fisherman's Bastion and Matthias Church. The views were just incredible. And even though I felt winded from the steep hike/climb up to the Castle District, I felt invigorated by how beautiful everything was and how amazing the views were.

It's a little ridiculous how beautiful this city is and walking it on foot made me very appreciative of its old world charm or something. With all the non-activity in Ireland, I was feeling so tired from all the walking. And it was close to the time Amy was going to be back home. So I somehow made my way down and around and through the Castle District and back near Amy's place. I felt a little defeated though when I felt really far from Amy's apartment. A few points in the day I felt like whining. It was probably a good thing I was alone. But you know that part in Annie. The one where all the orphans escape the orphanage to go and warn Daddy Warbucks about Mrs. Hanningan's plan to act like Annie's parents to get all the reward money?

"Look! We've found Fifth Avenue."
"Number One, Fifth Avenue!"
(totally defeated voice) "We've gotta go to 987."

Yeah, I know the feeling orphans!

But with determination and a slightly quicker step, I found myself happily back at Amy's before long. Here are some of the shots from my walk from the Castle District:

You'd think that'd be the end of the day. But no! We didn't stop there. After taking a couple hour break, Amy and I decided to head back out for dinner and possibly to meet up with some of her friends from school. Although I promised I would be doing as little walking as possible, we found ourselves walking all the heck over Budapest again.

As I've mentioned, this city is unbelievably gorgeous at night. They really know how to illuminate this place. So when we started walking over the Danube River, I felt like I was in a different city! Here are some shots from Budapest at night:

After a full day and night out and about exploring Budapest, I can happily and easily give this place two thumbs up!


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