BUDAPEST: La Vie Bohème, Alive & Strong (Part 1)

December 19, 2014  •  7 Comments

Photos taken / written by JENNIFER MAHON  |  This post was read 1306 times

View from Castle Hill

 

Days 10 & 11…..of 19. Leaving Vienna, we head southeast about 240 km (2.5 hours) to beautiful Budapest. I think it was around this point that we realized that we were supposed to have stopped at every country border to buy a “vignette” (like a tourist permit to use the highways). But since there is no real border, you really have no clue when you even cross a border, and no signage on the highway indicating this.

IF YOU'RE DRIVING, YOU BETTER HAVE A VIGNETTE
Totally by chance, we stopped for a bathroom break, and notice all these cars with a line of these “vignettes” on the windshields. Pointing and laughing at how silly it looks (like a car with too many “my kid is on the honor roll” bumper stickers), it suddenly dawns on me that each sticker says the name of a different country……therefore, by logic, that would mean since we drove in all those countries, we were supposed to stop and buy one of these suckers. Seems you can buy them in most gas stations, but if you get caught without one, the fine is fairly hefty (equates to approx. $200 CAD) – thank god we bought one at this point for Hungary because as soon as we pulled out, there were cops checking for these on the entry to the highway. There’s also highway tolls for the use of certain highways, which you have a booth, so you know you have to pay. It’s the vignettes that are tricky – from what I can gather, you must purchase one for: Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland. Check here for complete list.

BUDAPEST 
My oh my. There’s an indescribable “something” to this city. We got there early evening, after checking in to our hotel on the Pest side, Soho Boutique Hotel (who graciously upgraded us to a gorgeous suite), we headed out to explore the area with no real plan in mind.

Map - showing the route of our roadtrip

Map - showing the route of our roadtrip Gorgeous huge suite at the Soho Boutique Hotel

Gorgeous huge suite at the Soho Boutique Hotel BudapestBudapestBudapest

View from our hotel room

View from our hotel room

 


YOU'VE GOTTA SEE......


RUIN BARS & PUBS 
What is a ruins bar you ask? I wondered that too! Probably the hippest nightlife you’ll come across in Europe, these bars are built in the old Jewish quarter, in the ruins of abandoned buildings or lots. It started out as an underground bar scene, but it’s definitely not underground anymore. Szimpla Kert is the mecca of these bars and the entire street Kazinczy utca is lined with them, and each and every one of them is overflowing with locals and tourists. Sorry I have no pics of it, my hubs was weary about me taking out the camera amongst so many drunkards. But here’s a great link to all the great ruin bars and pubs

DOHANY STREET SYNAGOGUE 
Walking further down Dohány street, we saw this gorgeous building, which I honestly didn’t realize what it was until writing this post. Took a snap from the outside, but never went in because it looked like it was closed off to the public (but apparently it’s not!). The temple was built between 1854 and 1859 and restored between 1991 and 1998. The two 44 metre high towers add appeal to the building, as do the yellow and red bricks giving it a striped appearance. The Central Synangogue in Manhattan is pretty much an exact copy of this one. For more info see: http://www.dohanystreetsynagogue.hu/gallery/

ERZEBET TER & DEAK FERENC TER 
This is my fave memory of Budapest. By day it’s the city’s major transport hub with metro lines 1, 2 and 3 converging at the Deák Ferenc Tér metro station, as well as 5 main streets - Károly körút, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út, Király utca, Deák Ferenc utca, and Harmincad utca leading to the neighouring Erzsebet ter.

By night…..at OMG…..this place is awesome. Erzsebet ter, the largest square in Budapest is humming with action. In the summer, basically more than half the town can be found hanging out here. You show up and you can get food or liquor from a store nearby, then find a spot on a bench, on the grass, on the floor, or any available empty spot – and just chill. The vibe here is amazing. Locals, tourists, hippies, hipsters, youngsters – everyone gathers here – and I have to say there is a certain Bohemian magic to it.

On the square, there’s the Akvárium (Aquarium Event Hall) which hosts concerts and exhibition or have a drink on their terrace and chill by the huge lake (the lake is actually the ceiling of the hall, it’s pretty damn cool), a few restaurants, the Fröccsterasz (a former bus station converted into an open air bar).  On the other side of the square you’ll find Sziget Eye (or Budapest Eye) that offers fantastic views over the city by day or night. A new attraction in Budapest, it has 42 cars and can hold up to 330 people. At night, the ferris wheel lights light up the evening sky. Around here, you’ll also find a skateboard park and bicycle shop.

PARISI UDVAR (Parisian Court) 
So it’s the next day now….and off we go the check out a bit more of Pest and then head over to the Buda side. Walking around we come across the gorgeous building and were admiring it from the outside, when some man came over and told us we must go inside and showed us where the entrance is. It’s an early 20th century French-style gallerie, that must have been amazing back in its prime, but now is in a current state of abandonment. It’s like stepping back in time when you walk through this dark passage and you can imagine it in its heyday where all the shops were open and selling haute couture items. The architecture is amazing and it’s a shame it’s not in use anymore. Some might recognize the building as the location for the Budapest scene in the beginning of the film “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy.”

CENTRAL MARKET HALL (Nagy Vasarcsarnok) 
A great place to go for souvenir shopping, lunch, or to just browse. There’s so many vendors with all sorts of sausages, cheeses, fruits and veggies on the first floor, and on the second floor you’ve got all the touristy plus tons of local vendors serving up hot Hungarian food. 

SZABADSAG HID (Liberty Bridge) 
Leaving Central Market Hall, we head west to the Liberty(or also called Freedom) Bridge that links Pest to Buda over the Danube. It has great views of the Danube, the Széchenyi lánchíd Chain Bridge, Gellert Hill and Castle Hill. Once on the Buda side, you’re at the bottom of the Gellert Baths, which we didn’t go in since neither of us is fan of public pools.

CAVE CHURCH (Sziklatemplom)
Very cool in church located inside Gellert Hill, in a natural cave system formed by thermal springs. Still in use today, the church holds service 3 times a day, and by the entrance, you’ll get beautiful panoramic views of Liberty Bridge. More info here

CASTLE HILL (Varhegy)
We walk north to the bottom Castle Hill where the Budvari Siklo (Buda Hill Funicular) is. Of course, had it been up to me, I would have taken it up to the top of the hill, but my hubs was hearing none of that. I’m glad he insisted we do the walk up, not the 200 steps, but the gradual uphill zig-zagging path, because along this path we saw some pretty awesome things. It’s like they recreated what the walk up to the castle would have been like back in the day. It’s lined with local artisans, all dressed in period costumes and all making their wares on the spot to sell - probably my favourite part of our visit in the Castle District.

The castle itself is a nice structure, we never went in, but walked around it – beautiful gardens, beautiful architecture and beautiful views of the city. We did do the museum that details the history of Buda Castle. Around the castle, there’s endless galleries, sculptures and statues around every corner.

That’s it for today – continuation coming soon, with Fisherman’s Bastion and more…Enjoy the pics below!

The Dohány Street Synagogue

The Dohány Street Synagogue Deák Ferenc tér

Deák Ferenc tér Erzsebet tér

Erzsebet tér

People just chillin' at Erzsebet tér

People just chillin' at Erzsebet tér

People just chillin' at Erzsebet tér

Sziget Eye at Erzsebet tér Sziget Eye at Erzsebet ter

Skateboard Park at Erzsebet tér Skateboard Park at Erzsebet tér

Streets of Pest

Streets of Pest Párisi Udvar (Parisian Court)

Párisi udvar (Parisian Court) Beautiful inside, so much like the galleries in Paris

Beautiful inside, so much like the galleries in Paris Beautiful glass-tile roof at Párisi Udvar

Beautiful glass-tile roof at Párisi Udvar Inside Párisi Udvar

Inside Párisi Udvar Another beautiful ceiling inside Párisi Udvar

Another beautiful ceiling inside Párisi Udvar That would be me

That would be me Inside Párisi Udvar

Inside Párisi Udvar Outside Párisi Udvar

Outside Párisi Udvar Walking down Váci utca

Walking down Váci utca Central Market Hall (Nagy Vasarcsarnok)

BudapestCentral Market Hall (Nagy Vasarcsarnok)

Central Market Hall (Nagy Vasarcsarnok)

Central Market Hall (Nagy Vasarcsarnok) Central Market Hall (Nagy Vasarcsarnok)

Central Market Hall (Nagy Vasarcsarnok) Central Market Hall (Nagy Vasarcsarnok)

Central Market Hall (Nagy Vasarcsarnok) Just outside Central Market Hall

Just outside Central Market Hall Szabadság híd (Liberty or Freedom Bridge) - on the Pest side

Szabadság híd (Liberty or Freedom Bridge) - on the Pest side Views of the Danube and Gellert Hill from Szabadság híd

Views of the Danube and Gellert Hill from Szabadság híd More...views of the Danube and Gellert Hill from Szabadság híd

Views of the Danube and Gellert Hill from Szabadság híd Towards the end of the Szabadság híd with Gellert Baths in view

Towards the end of the Szabadság híd with Gellert Baths in view Cave Church (Sziklatemplom)

Cave Church (Sziklatemplom) View of the Szabadság híd from the Buda side

View of the Szabadság híd from the Buda side View from the Cave Church

View from the Cave Church Széchenyi lánchíd (Chain Bridge) and the Hungarian Parliament Building

Széchenyi lánchíd (Chain Bridge) and the Hungarian Parliament Building BudapestBudapestBudapest Budvari Siklo (Buda Hill Funicular) 

Budvari Siklo (Buda Hill Funicular)

The walk up starts with all these tempting food stalls

The walk up starts with all these tempting food stalls Don't know what these are but they look divine

Don't know what these are but they look divine Oh my, the site of them is way too tempting

Oh my, the site of them is way too tempting Refreshing juices along the way

Refreshing juices along the way Handmade dishes

Handmade dishes More handmade ceramics

More handmade ceramics Pretty flower pots for sale

Pretty flower pots for sale All kinds of interesting finds along the way

All kinds of interesting finds along the way Kind of outdoor food court half-way up

Kind of outdoor food court half-way up Hmmmm.....!

Hmmmm.....! Checking out more local artists while continuing the trek uphill

Checking out more local artists while continuing the trek uphill Hypnotizing basket weaving

Hypnotizing basket weaving Looming over the Loom

Looming over the Loom Loving these wind chimes

Loving these wind chimes Mesmerizing watching this youngin' work

Mesmerizing watching this youngin' work Pretty nice work

Pretty nice work Awesome etched leather work

Awesome etched leather work Views of the Parliament.....not quite from the top of the hill yet

Views of the Parliament.....not quite from the top of the hill yet Views of Pest from somewhere on Buda Hill

Views of Pest from somewhere on Buda Hill A glimpse of the hundreds of vendors

A glimpse of the hundreds of vendors Loved watching them work, plus it gave me a chance to pause and catch my breath

Loved watching them work, plus it gave me a chance to pause and catch my breath Yay - we've finally reached the top!

Yay - we've finally reached the top! At the top, full of entertainers...

At the top, full of entertainers... Buda Castle up close

Buda Castle up close Musicians doing their thing...

Musicians doing their thing... Totally absorbed in his playing

Totally absorbed in his playing Cookie time!

Cookie time! BudapestBudapestBudapest The back of the castle, heading towards the museum

The back of the castle, heading towards the museum One of the courtyards behind the castle

One of the courtyards behind the castle More local food vendors at the top around the courtyards

More local food vendors at the top around the courtyards More local food vendors at the top around the courtyards Not sure what she's making, but it was cool to watch

Not sure what she's making, but it was cool to watch Views of Buda behind the castle

Views of Buda behind the castle

 

More on Budapest coming up in a couple of days!


Comments

RoadtripCouple via Twitter(non-registered)
This post was Retweeted.

Great pics!
brethammphoto via Instagram(non-registered)
Great!
Natasha(non-registered)
Wow. It looks amazing!
mark greaney via Twitter(non-registered)
@JMphotojennic I love it. I was all over Budapest researching that book.
theworldandthensome via Instagram(non-registered)
Gorgeous shots!
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