Today we woke up at a similar time as yesterday and grabbed a pastry breakfast from one of the shops next to our hotel. Basically everything there was about a dollar and insanely tasty. We walked to the Buda side of the city crossing the Elisabeth Bridge. We decided to start near the Buda Castle and work our way to the Citadel.
We took the funicular up the hill to the castle and we arrived just in time to see a changing of the guards ceremony at the Sándor Palace, the official residence of the President of Hungary. We veered away from the castle to see Matthias Church. The church was spectacular and I was again blown away by the insane architecture and the color and detail inside the building. Right next to the church is the Fisherman’s Bastion. It’s a terrace with fairy tale towers and panoramic views of the Pest side of the city.
From Matthias Church we walked back towards the castle and saw another changing of the guards. Once we reached the castle we realized it isn’t the typical tourist castle anymore. The Buda Castle has undergone reconstruction and modernization since it’s completion and now houses the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum.
We went into the history museum and nearly every floor featured portrait paintings of the royalty. The most interesting floor had an exhibit that went step-by-step through the history of the city. It started with Buda and Pest as separate villages moving to when they became one city in 1872 and then into more recent history. It was really nice to have a visual progression of the city.
After looking through the museum it was time for lunch and we realized there was nothing nearby to eat for lunch. We crossed back to the Pest side of the river and ate lunch at a little cafe. I’m really starting to enjoy arugula and tomatoes more and more… evolving taste buds are weird.
After lunch we crossed over the same bridge for the 3rd time and began the hike up to the top of Gellért Hill. It’s been a while since I’ve done a hike that’s straight uphill so it’s safe to say I was tired when we got to the top. The Liberty Statue at the top is really nice but the Citadel is really just a giant concrete fort. We bought a cinnamon chimney cake to share and ate it in the warm sun.
We made our way back down the hill through a park eventually reaching the Gellért Thermal Baths! We started with the outdoor bath. It was so peaceful until a ton of kids came outside and stirred up a lot of chaos and noise. You could see on everyone’s faces how annoyed they were.
Inside the spa they had a main pool which was COLD and required swim caps and a thermal pool which was lukewarm. We discovered more thermal baths that were at the temperatures between 36 and 40 degrees Celsius. The tile in each room was different but equally as gorgeous as the one before. It reminded me of the thermal baths in Iceland except I think i’ll always have a bias to those since the cold air makes them so much more satisfying.
We went back to our hotel after the baths to freshen up and hang up our suits before dinner.
We ended up back in the Jewish Quarter at Street Food Karaván. It was a little strip with outdoor tables and tons of street food carts offering an insane selection of food. Margaret and I shared some goulash in a bread bowl and then macaroni and cheese. We got a little bit of Hungary and a little bit of home in one meal. Margaret’s friend met us there and took us to an artsy outdoor bar. We just had one drink with him before heading back to our hotel.
Our hotel was hosting a free wine/talk to other people session so we stopped by in the common room. It was a very interesting group of people – a retired man, a 30-something- year-old nurse, and a couple. We talked about all kinds of things from jobs to the US education system to the perfect Hungarian man. It’s always nice to talk to people from all different backgrounds to gain a new perspective.
We only have the morning left in Budapest and then it’s a seven hour train ride to Prague.