At the end of my previous blog posting I teased that we had one more adventure left in us at the end of our first day in Budapest.
It began somewhat innocently after dinner as we stood on the balcony in our room. We were being treated to a stunningly clear night, and the bridges and surrounding buildings were brightly lit, creating a beautiful and quite spectacular, not to mention romantic setting.
Energized by a second wind, (or maybe third or even fourth at this point) , we decided to go for a walk and take in the sights and sounds of Budapest at night. We had no idea how prophetic that thought would be as we set foot on the shore and started to walk up the hill to Fovam Square and the foot of the Liberty Bridge.
As we neared the top of the gentle slope, we could hear music playing, and not the type of music you might expect in Hungary. Remarkably, it was “swing music” and as we drew close, we came upon a square filled with people of all ages, dancing with careless abandon. It was one the loveliest and at the same time surreal scenes we have ever come upon.
I haven’t figured out how to properly embed a video in the editor program I am using, so I have attached it in the hope that by clicking on the download button below, you will be able to see and hear what we saw that night. The video only lasts for 30 seconds, and it will probably take at least that long to download. Make sure you turn on the sound to hear the music too!
Mary and I both really suck at taking selfies. It is just not in our DNA. So, it has become necessary for me to ask passers-by to take “couples” pictures of us, so we don’t end up with a travelogue full of “either-or” shots. The picture below is one of my favorites from our trip, as it captures both the city lights, and our cruise ship in the perfect background setting.
That is the Liberty bridge in the background (above), and another really lovely moment on our late evening walk occured when started across it. On every reachable and climbable part of the bridge there were young people sitting together in couples or small groups, simply enjoying the evening.
They were quietly talking and sharing laughs, but there was nothing boisterous or rowdy about them. They were simply breathing in the same beautiful sights and sounds that we were. It was absolutely captivating to me.
As we walked along the Buda side of the river, and neared the Elizabeth bridge, we passed the Rudas and Kiraly baths, two of the most well-known and beloved baths in Budapest. Both were built at the end of the 16th century by order of the Turkish pashas, and they continue in use to this day by both locals and tourists. We did not have time to visit or enjoy the spas during our time in the city but here are three stock photos to give you a feel for what one would experience. Our walking tour guide Josef raved about them and tries to visit at least twice a week!
Continuing our walk, we arrived at the base of St. Gerardus Hill. At 225 meters tall, it is not the highest point in the city, but the statue of the man who has lent his name to the hill is visible for miles in all directions. He was born in Venice and while in the service of King Stephen, converted thousands of Hungarians to Christianity. Afforded the rank of bishop for his work on behalf of king and country, he died on the hill bearing his name. His statue, depicting him holding a cross and blessing the city, can be seen above the a waterfall located at the head of the Elizabeth Bridge.
One of the most spectacular sights in Budapest is the Parliament Building built into the hill on the Buda side of the river. Widely considered one of the most beautiful parliament buildings in all of Europe, it is also one of the largest, stretching 268 metres (the length of 3 football fields) from one end to the other. The picture below, taken from the Elizabeth Bridge (and looking across the Chain Bridge) represented our first close-up glimpse of it, and while my night-time photography skills are somewhat lacking, I think you can see just how breath-taking a sight the Parliament building really is.
Below, are two pictures of the Viking Lif taken from the Liberty Bridge. Our sunset walk took us across the Liberty bridge and along the Buda side of the Danube down to the Elizabeth bridge that you can see in the distance in the picture on the right. Our circuitous bridge-to bridge walk lasted roughly an hour and covered a little over 4 kms (almost 2 1/2 miles). Not bad for a couple of jet-lagged seniors, and what a wonderful way to end our first day in Budapest.