Monday, September 30, 2013

Enchanting Eastern Europe - Budapest/Hungary

Did you think I forgot to take pictures of the Danube river? Absolutely not! It was too dark when we checked in on the first night but this morning, on September 17, we arose before dawn and I felt this timelessness just gazing at the Danube flow below me as the sun broke out the horizon to my right. The hotel window could be opened so I could take pictures, and videos, unimpeded by the glass and wondow stains. How thoughtful! Here are some pictures taken on arrival and before departure. Goodbye Danube but we'll ride you soon.

After a nice farewell breakfast we left on this cold and windy morning for Budapest, a long 3 hours drive away. Weather forecast for Budapest was not good. Rain will be expected but we are prepared. Crossing the border I noticed a subtle difference in that Hungary appear a poorer country by the quality of homes and buildings along the highway.

We were met upon arrival by local guide Zoltan during lunch at the Kaltenberg. Zoltan's friendliness, easy going style and knowledge of Malaysia quickly endeared himself to us. His job was to show us all of Budapest today and tomorrow. The walk from the restaurant to the St Matthias Church and the Fishermen's Bastion was marred by strong winds and rain. We hastily donned our ponchos and lent our caps to two other members who were unprotected. Zoltan refused to let the poor weather dampen his duty. Inside the St Matthias he took time to elaborate on the long suffering history of Hungary which once an empire by itself is today reduced to a nation surrounded by former colonies its emperors ruled decades ago. We took great photos from the windy viewing terrace of the Bastion, named because the fishermen's guild in the Middle Ages defended the city walls from invaders.

The weather cleared a little for us to stop by the Heroes Square. The central site of the Square is the Millennium Memorial (also known as Millennium Monument or Millenary Monument) with statues of the leaders of the seven tribes that founded Hungary in the 9th century and other outstanding figures of Hungarian history. The construction of the memorial was started when the 1000th anniversary was celebrated (in 1896), but it was finished only in 1900 and the square got its name then. When the monument was originally constructed, Hungary was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Please refer Wikipedia for additional information.

The first 2 pictures below were of the underground toilet inside a park next to the Square. Unbelievable and it cost us a premium to use it, 70 cents Euro.

Tonight we checked into the Hotel Continental Zara to stay for 2 nights. It was while waiting for our keys that one bellboy informed me that one of my blue luggage wheels had dropped off. The other unhappy news was that our room was the smallest so far. I wondered if we had stayed in the Courtyard Marriot would we had a better deal?

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