Thursday, March 19, 2015

Europe Tour - Part 1 - Budapest

Our first Europe tour – March 2014

Finally we made it, this is our first European tour. We joined a river cruise tour group sailing along the Danube and Main Rivers from Budapest to Amsterdam. This tour run by Scenic Tour starting on the afternoon of 12 March 2014. However we decided to come earlier so we can explore the Budapest a bit more ourselves so we left for Budapest in Hungary on the 9th March.

Our plans for this holiday were:
1.      Visiting Budapest for 3 nights before embarking onto the cruise ship
2.      Join the river cruise for 14 days from Budapest to Amsterdam (12 – 26 March 2014)
3.      Catch the train from Amsterdam to Paris and stay in Paris for 3 nights before heading back to Perth. It is a shame that we could not extend our stay in Paris.

Here is our short stories of our trips.
Just a little note: if you are planning to visit Budapest for only few days, we recommend you to have an agenda like what we have. Please note the clock in our photos is still Western Australian time zone. It is about 6 hours earlier in Budapest compare to Perth.



On 9 March 2014 we flew to Budapest and it was a long flight. It took almost 21hrs including our connecting flights. We had stopovers in Singapore and Frankfurt before arriving in Budapest at about noon on the following day. We stayed at the Marriott Hotel which is located along the Danube river, and we will also met the river cruise organiser on the afternoon of 12 March at this hotel as a base to start the tour.

Before we left for Budapest, we read some reviews about Budapest and from other sources too, most of them rate highly about this city. So we came here. Without wasting our time we left the hotel straight away after checking in and drop our luggage in our room.

Day 1

It was 2pm local time. We’re so excited and eager to start exploring this city, we forgot that we didn’t have enough sleep last night. We were too excited to be tired. My seat in the plane from Singapore to Frankfurt was really uncomfortable for a long flight, it’s an A300. To me B747 seating is more comfortable. Anyway, I can’t choose what type of the plane to fly can I?

We’re a feeling little bit lost during the first 10 minutes of our walks, but then here we're walking along the Danube river and then crossing the river via Chain Bridge. She is a beautiful bridge and famous in Hungary. This Chain Bridge was half damaged/destroyed during the WW2, they restored this bridge after the war.

As we crossed the river and so we're on the Buda city, which is at the west side of the river. The city at the east side of the river is called Pest. In the past both cities were the capital city of different state. The Buda and the Pest is then united into the city of Budapest in the 17 November 1873.

So today we spent most of our time walking up and down on the Buda city and also tried to familiarise ourselves with Budapest city itself. But Budapest is a large city and is one of the largest cities in the European Union. It is home to approximately 1.75 million inhabitants according to the year 2011 data.
Anyway, the city is pretty and I guess even prettier during the spring time. We were there in the early spring time, hence the trees were still bare naked without any leaves or flowers yet.
After walking for a while then we tried to find a café but we didn't know as to where to find one. We continued walking before finally we found one. It's nice little café, the attendant and barista spoke quite fluent English. We ordered a bite to eat and of course a cup of coffee. We sat outside amongst other customer to enjoy the scenery. It was a lovely day.
Picture 1 - Chain Bridge - the famous and prettier bridge in Budapest

During our walks on our first day, we realised that we're not far away from main tourist attractions at the Buda city i.e. the Royal Palace, St Matthias Church and The Citadella that we’re going to visit on the following day. From this side across to the other side of the Danube river you can also see a famous and beautiful building 'The Parliament House'. We tried to visit her on Day 3. We have more photos of the Parliament House later on Day 2 & 3 section.

Picture 2 – Famous Parliament House – Budapest; taken from the Buda city

After few hours wandering around and having nice cups of coffee at the Buda city, we went back to the Pest city via Margit or Margaret bridge. Again we walked and walked exploring this city on the east side of the river. I think my legs nearly gave up because of so much walking but my wife still want to explore more of the area which I tend to agree J J

This area of the city is on the flat plains while the Buda is sits on the hill, so yes geographically these 2 cities contrasts each other.
After walking  for a while we found information of the interesting places/landmark that we want to visit i.e. St Stephen Basilica, City Market, Public Park, Museum, and many more.

Finally the day becoming darker and it was time to end our tour, we stopped at another café and we ordered take away food before walking back to the hotel.

Day 2

It was Tuesday the 11th of March. After having a quick breakfast we were on the road again to start visiting the area we've planned the day before. The weather was good, sunny and just a little bit cool; it’s 11C degree. On the surface seems not much activities, very calm and relax, no rushing and there’re not many people or cars on the roads. We not sure about the underground metro because we were not using it.
Our plan on today is visiting Citadella & the Liberty Statue and then the Royal Palace. Diagram below is our walking route for Day 1 - 3.

Picture 3 - Our walk route (red lines) on Day 1 - 3

Citadel or Citadella

From the hotel we walked towards the south to the Erzsebet or Elizabeth Bridge then crossing the river, right at the end of the bridge on top of the hill above, there is a statue probably Saint with one arm raising and holding a cross on his right hand facing us. And below that statue is the entry of the walk trail up to the hill to the Citadella. Of course there are other ways of entry/exiting and we used that other access when we going down later in the day.

Picture 4 – A welcoming foot steps leading up to Citadella at 10.40am
Took a little bit of an effort to go through the winding walking trail to get up to the top, but we were not in a rush an we took our time to climb up. So we stopped every now and then and take lots of photos as we slowly go on the higher elevation. As we got higher, the view was more clear and beautiful; you can see the Pest city, the river and part of the Buda city.

As I mentioned earlier there was a big statue on the way up, but we could not see the information anywhere around the monument about who and what this monument is for; according to some locals, the statue is apparently Bishop Gellert.

Picture 5 – Bishop Gellert
This is the information I found about him:

The statue of Bishop Gellért, who died a martyr in the 11th century, stands opposite Elizabeth Bridge on the south side of Gellért Hill. According to legend this is the spot from where pagans pushed the missionary bishop, sealed in a barrel, down into the Danube. The striking statue is enhanced by the semicircular colonnade behind and the natural spring which rises to surface at this point, and which turns into a waterfall bellow the statue.

Here are some the pictures we took during our walks going up to Citadella, I used tele zoom on these pictures. There was a bit thin hazes in the air in the morning, the haze disappeared  in the afternoon.

Picture 6 - Buda city on the left and Pest city on the right

Picture 7 - Another view of Parliament House

Picture 8 - Buda City

Picture 9 - Chain Bridge

After about 20 – 30 minutes of walking, here we're at the Citadella. In this area there is the Liberty Statue, WW II bunker museum and a Hotel.
According to the information the Liberty Statue was constructed on 1947 after the WW II as a symbol of remembrance and liberation from German occupation, Hungary was backed by Soviet Union at that time.

So we walked around firstly to the Liberty Statue which is showing a lady with a palm leaf over her head, and then to museum (needed to purchase a ticket for this). The hotel also found at the nearby museum, this hotel also built under the heavy construction above it. Hence the hotel feels like it is a bunker.
Here are some photos of the Citadella:

Picture 10 – Picture of us with the Liberty statue at the background

Picture 10a - Liberty Statue

Picture 11 - Entry door of Citadella Hotel (a bit spooky)


Picture 12 - The corridor inside the hotel


Picture 13 - In the bunker of WWII museum

After we completed our sightseeing in this area then we head off to the 2nd landmark i.e. the Royal Palace. On the way out there are small stalls selling knick-knacks, we bought a couple copies of water painting of the Chain Bridge with Royal Palace at the background and The Parliament House. I think I got it at a reasonable price after a little bit of bargaining with the seller. Love it.

Royal Palace or Buda Castle

So again we rely on our legs strength to get to the next visit. It took approximately an hour walking, but we enjoying the sceneries along the way and the weather was really very pleasant. Few times we get distracted by sceneries and also lost tracks, eventually we made to get there.

The building is huge; we only manage to see half of it. We went to museum on the right wing and then wonder around at the centre and the back of the palace. I have no idea what's on offer in the left wing, didn't have time to ask.
I can’t remember the ticket fee to enter the palace, I think around 2 Euro per person and you will need another 12 Euro per person to enter the museum. You need to check the fee if you're planning to visit her. The museum is displaying the history start from medieval era placed at ground floor and more recent on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floor. Very interesting visit.

Picture 14 - The Buda Royal Palace by night taken from the top deck of ‘Scenic Pearl’

Picture 15 - Inside Royal Palace – Right Wing with museum on the right

Picture 16 - At the back of the Palace

According to the historian, this Castle was captured and occupied by the Ottoman Turks the Sultan Suleiman era, this place was badly damage/destroyed during this battle. Further damage was occurred when Christian forces bombarding this place to gain control over the Ottoman Turks. So most of the medieval castle was collapse, buried and abandoned. The excavation on this level found a chapel was built by King Louis in 1365.

It's an interesting history of this Castle, if you interested to know more about her you may visit this link:

In some area of the museum are allowed to take photos and some don’t, so be careful before taking pictures. Here are some photos while we’re in the museum and at the outside of the palace.

Picture 17 – Placard explaining about the Chapel
Picture 18 - A chapel build in medieval era by King Louise


Picture 19 - This is me having a rest at the back side of the Palace

Day 3

Wednesday the 12th of March
After breakfast we heading toward area that our new friend told us, we haven’t walking down this way. So today we’re heading south and we saw something interesting place before we reach the bridge, a very old building and that’s a University of Budapest. The student we met explain to us that you welcome if want to have a look, so yes we walk toward to the building and saw students entering the big old dark wooden door and there’re more students inside. So we decided to keep walking, and not far away from it ….. look what we found.....a city market. My wife, and I bet most women, exited seeing the stalls full with fruits, vegies, fish, spice, knick-knacks and many more including butchers.

Picture 20 – Central City Market – Budapest at 9am

The market was still very quiet on that early morning, it’s approximately at around 9 am when we’re there. We walk around in this market looking for something that my wife wanted for i.e. souvenirs, and she’s got it. It's wooden cooking utensils with the Hungarian decoration at the holder. Please remember, the clock in the photo is Western Australian Time.

From here we went to east direction, opposite to what we did yesterday (when we went to Citadel etc.). Its look like the Pest city much more interesting and busier compared to Buda city. As we went along the Museum Street, there're lot of cafés and shops. At this stage we not interested in stopping for either shopping or having a cup of coffee, the building architectures in general were more interesting. It seems years ago the city council were having very good city planning including the building regulation. From memory (info from our Scenic Tour) guide, the building height cannot be higher than the St Stephen Basilica; the only exception was the Parliament House which has the same height as the basilica. I think now days that regulation still apply for Budapest. The picture below may explain of how the city council involve when people or developer building the block, I am not so sure whether those building are built at the same time.

Picture 21 - Mirrored building or a Twin building

After walking for a while, we arrived at the National Museum. So we have a rest here while waiting the museum to open, after waiting and waiting there was no sign of activity. Unfortunately the Museum will be open at late afternoon, so we continue walking along this main street to find the next object we want to see i.e. St Stephen Basilica.

Believe me you will not lost in this city even you go anywhere if you go by foot like us, a tourist map is just adequate. So just get lost and enjoy whatever you can find. Not long after leaving the museum we saw the dome of the basilica, that’s becoming a guide for our walking direction until finally we reach the building.

St Stephen Basilica

When we get to the Square of the basilica we just said to…… The basilica with the twin bell tower just look stunning, and than the square....., and the business precinct around it. The square is paved with nice pattern and there is lane/corridor to the entrance of the basilica. It’s very elegant layout. According to the data, this church completed by 1905 and named after the first King of Hungary (975 – 1038). It’s the most popular tourist attraction building in Budapest, so without wasting our time we go inside of the basilica.

You will be surprised of what you'll see when you get inside, it’s a jaw dropping experience for us and this is the most beautiful church we’ve ever seen in our life. It's very fine artworks, the detail and the decoration with gold plated colour is just beautiful. We just stand still admiring of what we saw, before we took some photos. There’re many tourist inside, but it's a quiet environment apart from the tourist leader explaining about the church to their group. There were sign and barricaded areas where people cannot go into, but people are just quiet while admiring the detail and the beautifulness of the church.

Picture 22 - St Stephen Basilica – taken from the Square


Picture 23 - Corridor/Lane leading to St Stephen Basilica


Picture 24 - St Stephen Basilika – the Altar
Picture 25 - St Stephen Basilica – the Right Wing
Picture 26 - The Left Wing

I leave you with those photos, if you want to have more information about this basilica may be you can find it here:

Parliament House

As mentioned earlier in the beginning, we want to visit the Parliament House and that day was the only chance we have because later this afternoon we have to be with Scenic Tour to start our river cruise.  So we start walking again to find the Parliament House.  

Not far away from the basilica we saw an interesting bronze statue, I can’t remember who he is (anyone knows this man?). Someone kindly help us to take our picture with him  J J

Picture 27 - The guard not far away from St Stephen Basilica
It took only few minute to get to the Parliament House, however we're a bit unlucky. We can’t enter the area because there was some sort of maintenance or renovation of the building. The area was barricaded and fenced. Ooh well that’s mean one day we may need to come back again. The building/architecture is so beautiful; we keep looking back at this building again and again.

According to my guide (from Scenic Tour) this building was inspired by the Westminster in London, is nearly the same but different. The following is a copy from their website.

As the millennial celebrations of 1896 approached, the nation's demand for representation channeled the conception of a unique Parliament building. The Palace of Westminster in part inspired the design, but a well-known Hungarian architect, Imre Steindl, laid out the plans in their entirety. The building stretches 268 meters in its length, along the Danube embankment. Ornamented with white neo-gothic turrets and arches, it forms the most outstanding landmark of the Pest side horizon. Statues of Hungarian monarchs and military commanders decorate the outer walls. The unique interior design includes huge halls, over 12.5 miles of corridors, a 96-meter high central dome, and 691 rooms. When the Parliament is not in session, all these can be visited (cameras are allowed); tours are offered in English, French, German, Russian, Hebrew, Japanese, Italian and Spanish.

Here is a photo we took on the 3rd day of our tour taken from the Pest city, I can’t take the whole landmark of the building due the size of the building and limited distant. Anyway here she is:

Picture 28– Famous Parliament House – Budapest taken from the Pest city

Finally we come to an end of our tour run by ourselves  J J; we have to join the Scenic Tour by at least 2.30pm for registration and briefing than board the ship. However tomorrow is another Budapest - Tour with the Scenic-Tour, we do hope this will be another interesting day.

Day 4

Last night the on board welcoming event (on the Scenic Pearl) was very good, we introduce ourselves to each other in groups. We tried to meet with other fellow passenger as much as possible. Our room were prepared nicely and sailing night time to see Budapest by night was also magnificent.

In the morning after breakfast, the tours begin. There are 3 choices, hot spring bath, cave hospital and Budapest tour. We select the last one, surprisingly only 1 item (Citadel) was on the same one that we have visited days before.

St Mathias Church

This church is another tressure of the Hungary, it was builds at the Buda area in 1015 and rebuilt again in the 14th century. The church becomes the main mosque in Hungary following the occupation of the Hungary by Ottoman Turks for approximately one and a half century. The Church was badly damage during the battle and during the occupation they stripped off some of the original decoration  and replaced to reflect its function as a mosque.

When the Turks defeated this building obviously become church again, our tour guide was saying that the art painting created and influenced by the Moslem religion is still there up till now. The church leader decided to leave it as part of the history of St Mathias.

In WWII this church once again was badly damage; it took approximately 10 year starting 1950 to do the restoration. Much detail restoration was done in 2006 – 2013. More information about the St Mathias Church may be found in this link:

Picture 29 St Mathias Church

Picture 30 St Mathias Church taken from the back area

Picture 31- Inside the St Mathias Church

Picture 32- Inside the St Mathias Church

Budapest Square – Heroes’ Square

Picture 33 - My wife and others from our group of tour in the Budapest Square

The square is covering big area and it’s bounded by the museum of the Fine Art on the left and the Palace of Art (Hall of Art) on the right. The photo above I took from the angle, so hard to see that the column is actually located at the centre of the arches where the wagon & horses statue sit on top.

This square was built in 1896 to commemorate the millennium anniversary of Hungary. As to the Parliament House this Budapest Square is also popular tourist attraction, when we were there many of tourist buses parked nearby and we find a bit difficult to go to our bus.

I don't want disturb your own experience about this place, but more information may be found in this link:

Picture 33- The Museum of Fine Art – Budapest Square

End of PART 1
we leave you with more photos below:
Picture 34- At 0 (Zero) Km of Budapest
Picture 35- The Parliament House at night – 9.47pm taken from top deck of Scenic Pearl

Picture 36- Budapest Square – Courtesy of Petr Šmerkl, Wikipedia
You can also see the replica of this square in Shanghai - China
River Cruise ‘Budapest – Amsterdam’ coming soon.


Semoga anda menikmati cerita ringan (dongeng kata salah satu teman.......) dari kita di Perth - Western Australia.
We hope you enjoying reading it. If you have any comments, please do so. We'll love to read your comments. Thank you