Budapest, HungaryAugust 10, 2017 in Hungary
A very busy day exploring Budapest where the temperature soared to a humid 41°C. We started the group tour with a drive on the Buda side up to the top of Castle Hill where we saw the Buda Castle, St Matthias Church and Fisherman's Bastion. All the buildings on top of Castle Hill are World Heritage listed. There are some 220 caves that have been dugout from the limestone under the buildings, people would use them as cellars, or as their refrigeration or even as a place to hide. Some buildings were built after World War II and are not in keeping with the more Baroque style buildings. Budapest has a very eclectic style of architecture, including a mix of Baroque and Art Nouveau styles. The Fisherman's Bastion overlooks the River Danube and the Pest side of the city. To get back to the Pest side we travelled through a tunnel that is the same width as the Chain Bridge, one of the many bridges that connects the two sides of the city. We drove through the area of town that was the Jewish Ghetto during World War II, 700,000 Jews were housed here with only 100,000 surviving.
As part of the optional tour we had lunch at the Gundel restaurant. This restaurant was taken from the original owners by the Communist Party, no one was allowed to own anything it was all owned by the Government. The restaurant fell into disrepair until 1992 when it was purchased by two business men and refurbished to its former glory. We had a light lunch of Cream of Asparagus Soup followed by one of Gundel's signature dishes, the Gundel palacsinta, a crepe with a filling made from rum, raisin, walnuts, and orange zest, served with a chocolate sauce with orange liqueur which they set alight. We continued onto the Parliament Building climbing the numerous stairs and walking the maze of halls. We were able to view the Crown Jewels, that were well guarded, and the House of Representatives. From here we went to St Stephen's Basilica, this was also nationalised by the Communist Party and fell into disrepair. In recent times the Basilica was restored by the Government and handed back to the Catholic Church. Our last stop was to the Markets, which had all the fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and spices (especially paprika). The Market upstairs had the souvenirs, the embroidered tablecloths and dresses and blouses, leather handbags and Hungarian painted porcelain and coloured crystal.Read more