Budapest: Bridges, Night Lights, & 25,000 Steps

On a train to Keszthely, Balaton, Hungary

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I arrived on Friday night from Mallorca (via Munich) to Budapest, and from my room (I was staying on the Pest side), could see the beautiful night lights over the bridges, particularly over the Szechenyi Chain Bridge but also over the Margaret, Elizabeth and Liberty Bridges. Beyond the bridges I could see the Buda Palace and Matthias Church. Last night I walked over the Chain bridge to see the lighted Parliament buildings from the Buda side.

Yesterday I walked and walked and walked…25,000 steps, nearly 40 flights of stairs, about 11 miles. I walked over the Chain Bridge towards the old Palace (now a history museum…closed…I did try to go there, and an art museum), skipped the funicular and took the stairs;, then walked to the Matthias Church and tower, old town Buda and the Buda Tower. It was in the 90s by midday.

The Matthias Church is lovely, painted inside on the ceilings and walls and yet gothic in design of the nave and pillars. I also took the tower tour which involves over 200 steps (nothing to anyone who has climbed the Ulm cathedral, though I was warned there was no elevator (😏@Pat Purcell). The views from the top of the Danube and buildings on the Pest side were good though the light was flat at midday.

I was ready for lunch by then and air conditioning so I tried some fish soup, which despite the red color, from paprika I assume, was pretty bland, but the bread was good and I was hungry. And the air conditioning was appreciated!

I finished off my tour of old town, walked by the Buda tower and around the castle/palace area, then headed back to the hotel before further exploring the Pest side.

I ended up just walking around a shopping area, mostly pedestrian streets (there were an inordinate number of Thai massage parlors which were 30 euros an hour for a massage). I wandered down towards the Opera House (totally encased in fabric as it’s being renovated, at least on the exterior) and down the elegant Andrassy Avenue. This street is like the central street in many great cities, wide, lined with trees and nice stores, though in Budapest it also has theaters, so is a mix. It leads to Hero’s square, which I saw in the distance but didn’t quite reach.

I was very tempted to buy what seemed to be a local specialty, a chimney cake, and fill it with ice cream. I had a similar confection in Prague last year which was really good. But it took three of us to eat about 75% of and I was alone so I contented myself with taking photos.

I also wandered into a couple of grocery stores, because what trip in a foreign country would be complete without that. They seemed to have a huge section for chips and drinks, a lot of alcohol, a lot of fresh breads and rolls, and small sections for cereals. It wasn’t a huge store though. The apple selection was pretty small, seasonal fruits and vegetables were abundant, especially tomatoes.

I took the subway back to the hotel, buying a ticket from the machine just above the subway station was quick, easy and inexpensive. After a quick bite to eat, I walked back to the Chain Bridge for one more look at the city at night.

Today I am on a train to Keszthely, which is not pronounced anything like it’s spelled (nothing in Hungarian is pronounced anything like it would be in English or vice versa). I typed the city and time of departure I was looking for into my phone which was good since the ticket agent didn’t speak English, and got my train ticket (2 hours, 45 minutes, not a fast train as the drive by car was going to be about 2 hours), just under $12).

I play not before 11:45 tomorrow against a good Hungarian player, definitely the second best (I hope second best!) player in the draw, so I have to hit the ground running (literally).

Next update will be from Keszthely, in the Balaton area of Hungary. It’s on a lake, and has a castle, so should be interesting.


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