Monday 31 July 2017

Formal organised tour for the group this morning.  Our first calling point is the Millennium Monument, or Heroes Square, celebrating the 1000th anniversary of the formation of the Hungarian state in either 895 or 896 AD; the construction commenced in 1896 and was completed in 1900.  The parkland adjacent to the Monument surrounds the famous Szechenyi Baths, so the location of these is now known.  There are a number of other public baths in Budapest.

Our tour moves along and we see some more wonderful architecture as we head towards the City centre.  Our next stop allowing us to visit toilets and have a cup of coffee is adjacent to St Stephen’s Church.  It is one of the largest churches in Hungary and was completed in 1905.

Our final destination is the Castle district which is atop a hill on the Buda (western) side of the Danube; Pest was on the eastern side of the river.  They were united as a single city in 1873; previously Buda had been the capital of Hungary.

Featuring in the photographs is the Matthias Church, although we did not go inside the external features are magnificent.  It is adjacent to the Fishermans’ Bastion.  This accords some marvellous views over the city.

This marks the end of the official tour and we decide to return independently to our hotel, mainly because of a wish to use the funicular to descend river level.  However the funicular is closed for the day – and in the upper station I can see a man with a feather duster industriously removing cobwebs!  It was a hot walk to the top station, it feels even hotter as we walk back to the bus stop (especially as we subsequently establish that there are other powered routes up and down!).

Once we have identified the right bus to catch (!) it is a straightforward ride downhill, through a tunnel and across the Chain Bridge.  Once on the Pest side of the river we leave the bus and in a side street which leads back to St Stephens Church we find a series of restaurants and make a choice after studying the menus.  The sun is beating down so it is nice to be in shade as we eat lunch.

It is still very hot when we set out for a little walk along the eastern edge of the Danube.  We have a very specific target in mind – Shoes on the Danube Bank.  In late 1944 / early 1945 a large number of Jews were executed on the orders of the local fascists and this memorial was created in 2005.

A little further along is the magnificent Parliament Building.  We only see the outside but we understand that the inside is equally magnificent.  It was inaugurated in 1896 again marking the 1000th anniversary of the State but not completed until 1904.

There is an adjacent metro station facilitating return to the hotel.

Later in the day we walk along to Blaha Lujza and find Cafe New York around the corner.  Again this had been identified for a visit prior to leaving home and we made a wrong choice – we chose to eat a meal – but the service is designed to cater simply for those coming to have some cake and a drink and not for a meal.  Beautiful inside as the photos on the web demonstrate!  Oh well you win some and you lose some!