jn82’s Epic Adventure

Day 80 [19 Apr 09] – Budapest

Posted in Budapest by jn82 on April 19, 2009

Today, we just walked up and down Andrássy út, an iconic boulevard in Budapest that links Erzsébet tér (Elizabeth Square) with Városliget (the “City Park”). Wikipedia tells us that the street is flaned by neo-renaissance palaces and houses that feature fine facades, staircases and interiors, and it a recognised World Heritage Site.

The first stop along the walk was Terror Háza (House of Terror), a museum which is housed in the same building that served as the headquarters of the dreaded Államvédelmi Hatóság (ÁVH) secret police. The museum purports to focus on the crimes and atrocities committed by both Hungary’s Nazi and Communist regimes.

Terror Háza (House of Terror).

Tank in the centre courtyard, a jarring introduction.

Life under the Nazis and Communists.

Inside the museum in the basement are the reconstructed prison cells and the final Perpetrator’s Gallery, featuring photographs of the turncoats, spies, torturers and ‘cogs-in-the-wheel’, many of them still alive, who allowed or caused these atrocities to take place. The first and second floors contain exhibits of life under the Nazi and Communist regimes in Hungary. Unfortunately photography is not allowed inside.

On to happier things, we saw many old buildings for the rest of the walk down towards Erzsébet tér (Elizabeth Square).

Drechsler House.

Hungarian State Opera House.

Inside the foyer of the opera house.

As you might have noticed in one of the previous pictures, there were a lot of cyclists on the street today. This is because there was a Earth Day event called “Critical Mass” in which around 50,000 cyclists took to the street today from 3.30pm – 5.00pm down Andrássy út, from one of the bridges from Buda across the Danube to Városliget.

Critical Mass cyclists.

Just off Andrássy út on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út stands the Basilica of St. Stephen, the landmark cathedral of Budapest. The cathedral is pretty dark and gloomy inside, but for 400 florints we took a lift all the way to the top of the dome for a panoramic view of the city below.

Basilica of St. Stephen.

Inside the basilica.

Views of buda across the Danube and Pest below.

View of Pest and the cyclists below.

After the basilica, we walked all the way up Andrássy út to the other end where Városliget was. It was a pretty long walk but the weather was good so that made it more bearable. At the end of the street was Hősök tere (Heroes’ Square), which marked the end of the walk for today.

Hősök tere.

Dinner looked pretty unappetising, so no pictures of that will be posted here.

Off to Vienna tomorrow morning!

Today’s pictures here.


Day 79 [18 Apr 09] – Budapest

Posted in Budapest by jn82 on April 18, 2009

Today was dedicated to exploring as much of Buda as we could, leaving tomorrow for Pest. We tried to take the metro to Moszkva tér in Buda, but got off one stop past the stop that we needed to transfer to the other metro line. Due to the nature of the tickets and the metro system in Budapest, we could not go back in the other direction without buying another ticket for 290 forint, so ended up walking for pretty long along the river Danube to get to the starting point for our walking tour of Castle Hill in Buda. The walk itself was okay in the end as we got to see some of the important landmarks of Budapest such as the Royal Palace and Parliament from the river.

The Royal Palace on Castle Hill.


The Chain Bridge, one of the nine bridges linking Buda with Pest across the Danube River.

Once over in Pest, we went to Vienna gate, the entrance of Castle Hill, and walked around the old city. The old city looked pretty much like most of the old cities we have seen so far, with cobblestoned streets and historical buildings, however certain areas such as Fishermen’s Bastion were overflowing with tour groups.

New model Hungarian automobile.

Fishermen’s Bastion.

View of Pest from Fishermen’s Bastion.

After finishing walking around Castle Hill, we headed back to the hostel for a very short rest, and then to this place called M Restaurent (recommended by the hostel) for dinner. It was this cute little place in a back street which had brown paper with hand drawn stuff for wallpaper. The food was pretty good also, and the price was very reasonable.

Chicken ragout soup with tomato and dill.

Pangasius (shark catfish) fillet with mashed potato and dill.

As you can see, we are clearly eating better, because of the lower cost of stuff in Budapest.

We decided today that we will not be heading to Russia and onward to Siberia and Mongolia on the Trans-Siberian for reasons of personal safety and also that we might be bored to death on the long train ride. Instead we will spend about a week more in Scandinavia, and an additional one and a half weeks in China and maybe explore Yunan, Hangzhou, Suzhou or Sichuan, so the remainder of the trip will be much less rushed so that we can enjoy it more. It is a bit disappointing yes, but the schedule was looking very packed at the end and it would have been close to impossible to see everything at a pace we were comfortable with.

Today’s pictures here.

Day 78 [17 Apr 09] – Budapest

Posted in Budapest by jn82 on April 17, 2009

Not much went on today, as we were on the train from Zagreb to Budapest from 10.16am – 5.06pm. It was originally scheduled to depart at 9.56am and arrive at 4.09pm, but goodness knows why it only arrived almost an hour later at 5.06pm after being delayed initially and only leaving at 10.16am. If this was Japan, the train driver would have been shot.

As we got in pretty late, after checking in to the hostel we went for dinner nearby at this place called Menza, recommended by the guy at the hostel. It is a really nice yuppie kind of place, playing nice chill out music, and the crowd looks pretty fashionable and ready to start partying the weekend away. The price of my meal which included a 500ml local draft beer, soup, side dish and main course was only around 3,500 forint (S$23), extremely cheap by European standards.

Fokhagymaleves, tejfölös – sajtos lángossal: Garlic cream soup served with traditional Hungarian fried bread.

Borjúpaprikás tojásos galuskával: Hungarian veal stew served with home made noodles.

From the looks of prices of food, drinks and stuff in the supermarket, it seems that Budapest is a relatively cheaper city compared to the other cities we have visited in Europe so far. Tomorrow, we start exploring the city!

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