In 2015, while planning for our Europe trip, we (Hema and me) were sure of at least one place that both of us wanted to visit for a while and that was Budapest, Hungary, as we couldn’t make it the last time during our visit to Europe in 2008.
Budapest, the city is often described as “Little Paris of Middle Europe” was not our first destination during our 2015 Europe trip. We landed in Zurich from New Jersey, spent couple of days with my brother and his family in Olten, Switzerland. Then, we visited most romantic place called – Tuscany, Italy for couple of days. If you haven’t checked my travel blog on our beautiful trip to Tuscany yet, then I would highly recommend you to check it out – A Summer in Tuscany, Italy.
We bid the farewell to this beautiful land of rolling hills, extraordinary countryside – Tuscany with some lovely memories and drove back to Rome in a Mini Cooper to catch our next flight to Budapest. It was a two hour drive and we thought we were just on time, but who knew the car rental return would make us almost miss our flight. Taking one wrong turn in foreign land can be chaotic. With all the confusion and tension, one tend to make more mistakes and we were just circling around for about 15-20 minutes to figure out the way to get to the car rental office. Finally, we found the way, returned the car and we rushed towards the check-in counter with all our luggage and a five year old. As we approached to the first check-in counter of AlItalia, we were told to move to the next counter as they had closed the check-in. We rushed to the next one, the staff was clueless and rude. After some heated argument with ground staff, my wife took charge of the situation and made sure we got our luggage checked in, got our boarding passes, and were cruising to the departure gate. In flight – here we come Hungary – ciao Italy!
We reached Budapest airport in the afternoon, Hema went to get the water from the shop at the airport, she picked up two bottles of still water, asked the lady behind the counter how much does she owe for two bottles of water, the lady said it’s 200, to that Hema shockingly asked her – did you mean “200 dollars!”. Thankfully, it was 200 HUF (Hungarian currency – Hungarian Forint). We laughed our lungs out – it was so funny!
We stayed at a quaint hotel in Budapest called as Bohem Art Hotel. Besides its excellent location – in the historical downtown – it is a beautiful modern hotel.
After check-in into our room, we got ready and went out to explore the neighborhood. Every building and the street had something fascinating, the graffiti on the street walls were colorful and interesting. We were lucky that this hotel was just 50 meters from one of the most famous pedestrian streets of central Budapest – Váci Utca (Váci street). The street was very attractive because of people, souvenirs, street food, restaurants, famous brands. We felt, the street was very lively, peppy, and full of energy.
The street stretches to a little more than a mile between Vörösmarty Square and the Great Market Hall. The northern half of the street has lot offashion stores, while the southern half is better known for its souvenir shops and its bistros.
In Budapest, my siblings joined the wagon, sister (Gita) who flew from Delhi, India and my younger brother (Raja) who came straight from Wellington, New Zealand. Nothing beats the fun and excitement to be with your family during vacation.
In the evening we all got ready to explore the beautiful city. We did a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus tour to discover Budapest. It was a great choice to see, appreciate and capture some the most beautiful architectures of the world. I was mesmerized by the streets, the buildings and the amazingly beautiful architecture.
We also visited one of the most popular squares in Budapest – Hősök tere (English: Hero’s Square). Heroes’ Square with it’s Millennium monument is one of the most visited sights in Budapest. And, it was such a challenge to take a picture of Hero’s Square with no tourist around. Within seconds, this place was so crowded that we have to move to our next sight.
Every building has an outstanding architecture, Gresham Palace was not different either. An outstanding piece of Hungarian Art Nouveau architecture. Also, loved the way a giant sculpture made by Ervin Herve-Loranth of Hungary was displayed at the Szechenyi Istvan Square in promotion of the Budapest Essentials Festival 2015.
Danube river is second longest river in Europe and we thought it was one of the must-see attractions of Budapest. We are so glad that we booked the Budapest Danube River cruise. If you are planning a visit to Budapest, you must take Danube river cruise at “night”. It is a priceless experience!
There are number of companies that offer river cruises, pick and choose any, you will never regret the ride. The evening sightseeing cruise is combined with a sound and vision show. The boat departs from the centre of Budapest and makes an hour round trip in the city. We haven’t seen anything like this before, you are enchanted by the illuminated buildings on both sides of the river Danube. It is a magical moment to see the entire city illuminated with light as if it were made of gold.
The Parliament Building at Night
Buda Castle, Budapest
When I am on vacation, I love getting up early to capture the raw beauty of dawn. I feel it is the best time of the day to capture the essence of the place as there are not many people around.
There are eight bridges span the Danube in Budapest linking Buda and Pest, each with a fascinating tale to tell. The oldest is the famous Chain Bridge, which was opened for public traffic in 1849. It had a very distinct characteristic to it, so I spent most of the time taking pictures of the chain bridge that morning. And, I was not at all bored or disappointed that I couldn’t walk to other bridges.
The Budapest vacation was special for one more reason – that I was excited to meet my photographer friends Anita Megyesi and Preston Coe. It was so nice of them to meet us for dinner at one of the lovely India restaurants in the heart of Budapest, At very short notice, they were there and we had such a wonderful time. They made the trip worth!
Budapest is one of the most beautiful places on earth and we would recommend others to plan a trip soon. We wish you enjoy your vacation and be safe!