To Budapest, with love.
The second day in Budapest is about finding your groove. By now the city has taken over you and you feel at peace with your being here. Its like an explosion of horizon which lets you see beyond.
I woke up early to walk up the Buda hill and watch the Liberty Statue in beautiful colors of morning sky oozing glory in every sense. The view of Pest side of town from here is spectacular! A famous monument here is the Buda Castle which is quite a rocky climb along narrow pathways – you may choose to walk or take a TAXI both experiences are fun! Upon reaching the castle compound you would be revered by the gigantic Mathias church, standing tall under stark sunlight. Some places of worship have a strong vibe which makes you open up your heart and let go of things which have outlived their time. This was one such monument, under which I sat introspecting & knocking off all pieces of self which were making my journey difficult. It was as if this huge baggage had been taken off me and I was ready to move ahead feeling lighter than ever.
Further up is Fisherman’s Bastion, another iconic site which is a neo-Gothic/Roman styled terrace surrounding the church. There is a bronze statue of Stephen I of Hungary mounted on a horse which is a real steal. It seduces you from all angles hovering against the blue sky in beautiful shade of green oxidized bronze. Below this sculpture was a modern day performance artist clad in bronze paint sitting by the rim pretending to eat an apple. With absolutely no movement, he sits there for 2-3 minutes like a statue and then suddenly shocks the passerby tourists by jiggling apples in the air. Hilarious!
With the heat killing your feet, small water fountains a little up ahead were a great respite. I quickly took off my shoes and socks to immerse my feet in cool water. Absolute bliss! Looking around, we saw a wedding taking place with the bride chatting up with friends near a X’mas tree – what a sight ! Pristine white and wedding bells 😀
What better than chancing upon a sweet treat as you end this lovely walk around the castle. I happened to spot the Marzipan Museum with a factory, exhibit and outlet shop a little up ahead. It was like walking into the candy store 😀 A small room full of sculptured marzipan – palace, furniture, people, animals .. you name it and they have ‘Marzipan-ed It’ !!
We picked up marzipan and white chocolate liquor in small handy bottles which made great souvenirs and gifts. Have a look at this marzipan cat, from the royal dynasty and Hogwarts library from Harry Potter below !
Next we walked down the hill towards the Chain bridge to reach Pest side. This was the first ever stone bridge built to connect Buda and Pest also known as the bridge of the Hungarian capital. Two legendary lions on either side of the bridge now are a part of city’s skyline. This bridge was blown away in WW2 and rebuilt 1949.There’s a love lock site somewhere in the middle of the bridge where you can seal your love with a lock swearing by the Danube till eternity. Cute, eh?
Overlooking the Chain Bridge, on the foot of Parliament building along the east bank of Danube is a memorial called ‘The Shoes on the Danube Bank’. This was conceived by director Can Togay to honor Jews killed by Arrow Cross militiamen who ordered them to remove their shoes and shot them by the edge of water so that their bodies would be carried away by the river. It speaks of human loss and tragedy of sorts that will make you sombre as you walk along this great piece of art.
Tired, I walked up to a nearby park with lovely green grass and just lay silent. A city is truly created by its art. It is so evident in this epic place where every sculpture speaks to a tourist of a story that is a part of its land. One truly feels like having lived through the rich history and can connect with the emotions that have been stirred during war and peace.
Finally, I fell in love with the lanky Hungarian poet Joszef Attila sitting by the steps immersed in deep thoughts – truly coming alive ! With heart full of amazement and eyes eager to absorb more, I took a tram to Astoria – back to the hostel for some rest before striking the Heroes Square and Szechenyi baths in the evening. Grabbing a quick bite of Hungarian dark chocolate (which are superb btw) we took a nap followed by a refreshing shower to get ready for the evening.
Budapest is known for its medicinal spring baths which have been there since Ottoman Turkish times with the famous one being Szechenyi at the end of Heroe’s Square. Now this is an open theatrical complex with a cenotaph at its center and sculptures of captains of seven Hungarian tribes beautifully built in arch shape. In the middle is Millennium Memorial which is a significant Hungarian landmark featured globally. The top of this column has archangel Gabriel depicted beautifully. This complex hosts cultural and political events for the country. Also, at the bottom of cenotaph is a artisan bronze plate marking the site for spring well providing water for the bath.
We had booked a month in advance for a Spa Party here which is a rare event with trans music and lazer light show drumming up the ecstatic senses of people around. We truly enjoyed this magically healing experience of sorts. Immersing in warm waters and dancing to the beats of hallucinating trans. There was an open bar with stuff doing rounds – I can say planet Venus would have a similar trippy scene. Absolute fun !
And this was not all ! One needs a hydrated body with great energy to head towards the 4th district at 3 AM in the morning when the Ruin pub crawl begins ! Yes, you read it correct. The Jewish 4th district is today home to youth from around the world who visit Budapest for partying and it has some fantastic bars and eateries. We flanked into Szimpla Cafe and ate to our hearts at Bors Gastro Bar – absolutely must have hot dogs ever!
Great day & night, we were neatly done ! Next, we went back to the hostel to pack our bags and leave for Croatia! Splendid Adriatic beauty awaits us with supreme experiences on offer.
That story is for my next post. Ciao.