…It was decided that on our last day to this charming city, we would not follow any particular schedule but freely roam its streets instead. As we had being crossing Danube through the Széchenyi chain bridge over the past days, we opted for a different crossing over to the Pest side one closer to our first stop for the day, Gellért gill. The hill is named after St Gerard of Csanád, who – according to an unverified fable, was thrown into a spiked barrel and rolled down this hill during a pagan uprising.
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The hill offers great views of the city and we greatly took advantage of this aspect to get some great shots, until a funny thing startled us. As Catherine was posing for our camera, a girl shouted something like”@#$%!!!* @&^E”? at as and we thought that we were blocking her view, preventing her from taking a photo. However she repeated her question more enthusiastically but slower and we realized that “@#$%!!!* @&^E”? stood for “Are you Greek?” in a lovely Cypriot accent. We were still stunned but our slight scare immediately turned to laughter.
We visited the citadel and the enormous statue of Liberty that stands in front of it, holding a palm tree branch. It’s a monument from Soviet era Hungary that can be seen from almost every part of Budapest, commemorating the city’s liberation from the Nazis.
Apart from that, you can visit the cave church, or relax in a spa, as a couple of famous thermal baths can be found at the hill’s feet. After descenting the hill, we crossed a bridge to Pest and tried to find a cup of coffee the way we like it. It has now turned into some sort of peculiar ritual, searching through various countries, instructing waiters on the proper way to prepare our favorite coffee and trying to guess what they ‘ll present to us (we never complain though, it’s become part of the fun). Well, our choice of a coffee house proved to be a great one, so just extremely good coffee on this one, nothing strange here. As a matter of fact it was even greater than the one we enjoy back home and our order didn’t seem strange at all as we were casually served our freddo cappuccino. After enjoying our coffee under the bright Hungarian sky, we decided to walk a bit around town, before eventually heading to our beloved Szimpla.
This place is definitely a safe bet, certainly one we were willing to take and never proved us wrong during our stay. We ate something and drove the heat away with some fine beer.
After appeasing our stomachs, we left Szimpla and walked around, till we found ourselves in Nagymező street, which we later found that is called Budapest’s Broadway due to the number of theaters and clubs. We came across a comedian’s statue and composer Emerich Kálmán ‘s statue as well as some other ones. Of course we joined the Hungarian composer on his bench, while he was enjoying his cigar before continuing our walk towards another ruin pub.
You see, we totally enjoyed Szimpla but we wished to check out another one of these places if not for the fun simply for seeing something else for a change. Well, that something else was Instant, which unexpectedly was extremely quiet when we got there and that allowed us to take some shots while enjoying our beer. We had got accustomed to a larger crowd though and we got bored after a while, but we guessed that this beautiful place, with its psychedelic design must be a place for great parties at a later hour since we had arrived there too early.
So we walked to St Stephen’s basilica, which we had seen on our first day but postponed our visit. It’s a great church, not as imposing as the one in Vienna that bears the same name, but a spectacular building nonetheless. I guess that the main difference is that there’s more open space around the particular Hungarian church, I feel that the building allows the visitor more space to breathe, while the Viennese one is more dominant.
We left this fantastic church and met the big bellied Hungarian policeman, who was kind enough to have a picture with me. Then we walked down Vaci street, all the way near the great market hall, buying gifts on our way while being part of the colorful crowd. As it was getting late though, we decided to sit for a beer and possibly dinner, but another funny thing happened on that place.
We had failed to notice a drunk tourist sitting right on the table next to us. The guy was half asleep and had soiled himself a bit which seemed funny as he was mumbling something in (pardon his) French, but that put our desire for food on hold. Still, we had sat on the table and we decided to at least order a couple of drinks and leave after a while, so Catherine had a soda, while I ordered a small beer. To our astonishment the waiter complained that never in his thirty years of working as a waiter he had seen anyone ordering a small beer (why on earth are they selling them then?). Still I got my beer and we paid our bill so as not to waste more time there.
So, we left the place and accidentally stumbled across a kiosk that sold street food, which looked a lot more prestigious than a simple street snack. There were even tables available and we sat on one, as Catherine ordered a burger (one of the best she had ever tasted as she claimed) and I had ghulash, which was amazingly tasty.
We returned to our hostel on foot, after crossing another one of Budapest’s bridges and admired some night views of the city. That was our last day in Budapest before leaving the country in the morning, which we would spend on Bratislava, trying to make amends for our hasty visit of the city in the short amount of time in our disposal. Budapest proved to be a spectacular and charming city and we guess that most of Hungary is that way and we would definitely try to visit again in the future.