We headed off this morning to the Danube River and the famous Chain Bridge. As it turns out, we are only about 10 minutes from the river so it was a pretty quick walk. We already love the vibe here. The buildings are cool and the city seems well organized with walkways, bike paths, trains, buses and cars. We decided to book at River cruise and went down to the river to see one of the many vendors that line the pier. A nice young woman was very good at her job and sold us a dinner cruise with music for tonight. Looking forward to that!!
After booking our cruise, we walked across the Chain Bridge. This is a suspension bridge that spans the River Danube between Buda and Pest, the western and eastern sides of Budapest. It was built in 1849 but had to be rebuilt in 1947 as the Nazis destroyed it as they were leaving the city. We are currently staying on the Pest side but thought we would like to see the Buda Castle which of course would be on the other side. Buda Castle is the historical castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings in Budapest. It was first completed in 1265, but the massive Baroque palace today occupying most of the site was built between 1749 and 1769. The complex in the past was referred to as either the Royal Palace or the Royal Castle and is situated on the appropriately named Castle Hill. We chose to walk up and found the walk was not that strenuous due to a series of switchbacks and stairs leading to the top. Once there we had a bite to eat and started to explore. As is usually the case, the views were amazing. We actually did not visit the castle but instead toured the castle district itself. This included the aforementioned views, ruins of the original castle from 1265, and many souvenir shops. We continued our journey to the Matthias Church which was originally built in 1015 by St. Stephen (there is a very fine statue of him in the courtyard of the church). It was taken over by the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century who turned it into a mosque. Christian troops regained the church in the late 17th century and the new church was constructed in its place. Around the church is the Fisherman’s Bastion built in 1902. There are seven turrets on the Bastion which serve as lookout points giving a wonderful panorama view of the city. We took some pictures and headed back down the hill, across the bridge and back to our apartment to get ready for our night adventure.
The River Dinner Cruise
We had a great time on the cruise!! We sat at a table with a wonderful couple from Florida – David and Donna. It was great to share stories of travels and children while enjoying a wonderful meal. The band played traditional music throughout dinner while we visited and watched the sites of the city go by. After dinner, we went to the upper deck to enjoy the scenery and take a few pictures. We docked after two hours on the river, said goodbye to our new friends and headed for home. On the way, we ran into a street party of young people, dancing, drinking and having a wonderful time. Though we tried to blend in, I fear that we stuck out like old, sore thumbs. Regardless, it was great to hear the music and see everyone having such a great time. March 15th is a national holiday – Revolution Day – so no doubt the party atmosphere on the streets was the precursor to the celebrations that will be taking place on the morrow.
A great first day in Budapest!!
The Boat Cruise….