Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Budapest diary

In spite of the tiring long arduous seven hour journey, the enthusiasm was there to visit a country which got independence just 19 years ago.We reached the Budapest East railway station in the evening,which mostly resembles our Chennai central railway station.We just checked-in in our Yellow Submarine hotel(remember the famous Beatles album!) and relaxed there for the night.

Next morning, like a typical tourist, with a local map and camera, we set out for exploring the beautiful city.Among the western style buildings and architecture you can see dull old communist era buildings and graffiti on the walls, typical of communist country.The Russian occupation of Hungary ended in 1989 and they left the country two years later.Seems communism didnt do much good to Hungary and there is a general hatred towards this particular ideology and the people who occupied them.

Most of the tourist places in Budapest can be covered by walk and located near by except for a few.The good thing about most of the european city is that the city's local map shows
every street name,corners and the train,bus,tram connectivity. Like every other european city, a beautiful river flows through Budapest. Danube river divides the city into Buda and Pest(correct..Kamal sollra maathiri kaavakku anthaanda Buda inthaanda Pest..!!). And a beautiful Chain bridge connects the two sides. There is a underground train system built some 100 years before which is very much working and it also runs under Danube and connects Buda and Pest.

The ancient settlers along the Danube river were called Magyars whose civilization dates back to 9th century and thats why Hungary is referred to as Magyar in local Magyar(Hungarian) language. Buda,Obuda(Old city north of Buda) and Pest forms Budapest.Obuda has that great Buda castle and the ruins of Roman empire. Fishermen’s Bastion with seven turrets representing seven Magyor tribes, 13th century Matthias Church and Royal palace are worth visiting. You can see bullet scarred building that tells stories about the 1956 uprising of the students and people against the communist government. From the hills of Buda the view of the entire city is beautiful and that too in the night it is amazingly beautiful. Seems the Romans discovered the thermal springs underneath and built public baths.Budapest is famous for splendid Spas and Medicinal springs.The local people say it is a sin if you dont take bath in the city's medicinal waters.We sinned.

It will be a greater sin if I dont mention about Andreas and his girl friend Gyongyi whom we met in the train while coming to Budapest.They just promised us that they will spend some time with us in helping us seeing the city.But they spent a whole day with us taking around the castles and other places in Buda and explaining the importance of the places.It is surprising to see Andreas explaining like a guide the history of the places with events and the years in which it took place. In the evening he took us to a Hungarian pub where we tasted the typical Hungarian dishes and drink.Dont miss Palinka with honey flavour and Unicum a traditional bitter drink prepared from different herbs.It wouldnt have been a very memorable trip without Andreas and Gyongyi.Thanks for the hospitality you both showered on us. It was very Indian or should I say very Hungarian..!!

Hungary is famous for musicians and mathematicians.The next day we visited the Hungarian Opera house in the Andrássy avenue.An elegantly built magnificent structure with its neo-renaissance architecture adores the Andrássy avenue.The interiors are beautifully decorated and the statues of Mozart, Beethovan and Verdi adorn the main facade outside.And our god of music,Ilayaraja has been here many times for composing symphony music with the Hungarian musicians.

Walk 300 meters towards the Danube river in the Andrássy avenue, you will get St.Stephen’s Basilica on your right(Szt. István in Magyar), an imposing huge structure with a big open square facing the Danube river. It is artistic and aesthetic. Spend a evening in the square in front of the Basilica and have a stroll to the near by Danube. It is really romantic. From St.Stephens Basilica, Hungary parliament is near by.It is situated right on the banks of Danube on the Pest side. Polish president was visiting the parliament and we, lesser mortals were not allowed inside that day.To hell with Polish president.

McDonalds and Burger King are there everywhere. Euros are accepted but they give the change in Hungarian currency Forints. The other side of Andrássy avenue in the direction opposite to Danube takes you to the Heroes sqaure. Now you can see only dinghy old communist era buildings lining either sides. House of Terror is a testament to the city and the people, after being ravaged by Nazi and Soviet regime. It evokes sad memories of people who are tortured and killed during their regimes.

Heroes square is 40m tall column with a statue on the top built in 1896 for Millennium celebrations of the 1000th year of settlement of their ancestors in Carpathian Basin along the Danube river. We missed the Margaret Island and some museums.Two days are enough to see all the important places. A leisurely walk on the banks of Danube with your loved ones, hand in hand or a cruise in the Danube during the dusk or in the night, enjoying the chill breeze and the beautiful castles and monuments on either side of the river is heaven!!

All is well,until the police caught me on the return journey in Munich central station for travelling with out a passport.I have forgotten my passport at home.



  1. machi photos r really superb..
    hope u had a nie time...

  2. nice pics.. europe is a photographer's paradise :) do u have a flickr account? it would b nice 2 c the pics in full size. may be when there is a contest for night pictures in photography in tamil blog contest, u can participate :)


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