Budapest Brims with Beauty
Ahhh Budapest, what a gorgeous, interesting and wonderful city you are! I was lucky enough to spend two days here and felt that I got a great insight into this fascinating capital. There is beauty everywhere you look, and shocking history just around the corner…
From bathing in thermal baths, to cruising the Danube river, to paying respect at meaningful monuments, Budapest really captivates all 5 senses…read on for my experience, but be warned, after reading you may just want to hop on a plane and see for yourself why this city is so special…
When I visited Budapest I was on a coach tour. It was the last destination on our itinerary and it ended on such a beautiful note. My first day in Budapest however was filled with mixed emotions. The weather was typical ‘Central European Summer’ (splendid blue skies and hot sun), I had my camera in hand and comfortable walking shoes on – we had an introductory walking tour around the historical sights of Budapest. I didn’t know much about this city before I arrived, so I was treated to such impressive structures as the Hungarian Parliament Building, Buda Castle, and St. Stephen’s Basilica. These buildings were incredible! So vast and stunning were they, that by the time I finished marveling at them, I had a sore neck from staring up at these wonders. Clearly the morning tour had gotten off to a flying start.
The walking tour provided lots of stunning highlights of Budapest and some shocking monuments and museums…Our group was taken to the east bank of the Danube River, where a series of bronze statue shoes are scattered along the bank. The monument is tilted ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank’ which gives remembrance to the 3,500 people (800 of them Jewish) who were shot into the Danube during 1944-1945. These shoes (varying in men, women and children’s sizes) all reflect the style of shoe at the time.
The next sight to see was also a somber one. We had an optional visit to the ‘House of Terror’ and after learning about what Budapest endured during WWII and the aftermath, I felt compelled to visit this place to get a sense of what the poor Hungarians went through and spare a thought for them. My first impression of ‘The House of Terror’ was that it was appropriately named. It is a very historical and educational museum that doesn’t hold back some of the darkest days of humanity. Although shocking I would highly recommend visiting the ‘House of Terror’ as it is a very interactive museum showcasing the political parties that led Hungary during and immediately after WWII. The exhibits are very graphic and although it’s there right in front of you it is hard to imagine that life was like this not that long ago. I left with a strong sense of gratitude and thought no matter how bad of a day I’ve had, it is incomparable to what others have endured– there are bad days, and then there are bad days.
After a full-on day of touring Budapest, the following day (which was our last day of my two-week coach tour) we focused on all the present-day positives that Budapest has to offer…. First on the agenda was a relaxing soak in the gorgeous thermal baths of Budapest. We were treated to a full afternoon at the Szechenyi Spa – the biggest and most popular of all the natural hot spring baths in Budapest. There are 18 different pools here, each offering a different climate, some indoor and some outdoor. My favourites were; the indoor high pressure pool which had high pressure massage jets – the water temperature was quite hot so I could only stay in here for around 10 minutes at each time, and my other favourite was the main pool, which was the biggest of them all – which was outdoors. The outdoor thermal pool had many people of different ages enjoying their time soaking, including dear old men playing chess in the water! Another reason why the main outdoor thermal pool was my favourite is because it was so picturesque! When sitting in the pool you are treated to a view of a grand old castle like structure which houses in the indoor spas.
When my fingers and toes began to prune I knew it was time to head back to my hotel to get ready for our last night on tour and what a night that was… Attending a private river cruise along the Danube River at night with dinner and drinks included was something I never thought I would experience in my life. When I think of the Danube and cruising, I think of those hard-working baby boomers and retirees who have earned their spot on a European River Cruise, and yet here I was cruising next to them, gliding past Budapest in awe. I was so blown away by the beauty of Budapest from the water, and having an opportunity to reflect on what was an amazing two-week trip with wonderful people while the soft breeze was tousling my hair, felt like something from a movie – yet I was experiencing it for real!
Seeing the sparkling amber glow from the Budapest Parliament Building against back drop of night as our vessel glided by is something I never knew I wanted until I was in that moment … and it is something I encourage all readers to pursue …. Until next time Budapest… You are an absolute delight.
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