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Our first day in Budapest was a beautiful one - weather wise. We got up, had a leisurely breakfast and decided on our day. It was different from having everything planned for you.
We decided to visit some tourist places despite it being a Saturday. We made our way down to St. Stephen’s Basilica. It was about a 20 minute walk. When we got to the ticket office, a none too personable lady told us that the basilica was closed until 1:00. No reason given. We decided to continue on down to the Hungarian Parliament building for a look. When we got there the whole area was closed off. No idea why. This wasn’t really a problem as all we wanted was a couple of pictures. IMG_2844.jpegIMG_2848.jpegWe continued along the river bank until we reached a memorial. This was another holocaust memorial. It is called Shoes Along the Danube and refers to when Nazis lined Jews up along the banks of the Danube. The last thing they were asked to do was remove their shoes before being shot and falling into the river. The shoes were very valuable during wartime and were either worn or sold by members of the firing squad. The memorial consists of about a 100 m length of bronze footwear. Pretty chilling memorial. IMG_2847.jpegWe continued along the Danube until we reached the Central Hall Market. This huge building houses all sorts of market items. IMG_2846.jpegIMG_5186.jpegAnything from fresh produce to cheese to meat products to clothing and souvenirs. It was packed. We walked around for a while and browsed the stalls, but eventually the crowds got to be too much for us and we left.
By this time we were starting to get a bit hungry so we decided to find a place to eat in a city that has a million of them. As we returned toward the basilica, we found a restaurant that served langos. Langos is not what one would call super healthy. It’s a plate sized chunk of fried dough topped with cheese, sour cream and sliced red onions. I decided that wasn’t enough and had them add bacon. We enjoyed our lunch and wondered why we hadn’t thought to split one. As we ate, we were entertained by a trio playing traditional Hungarian music. We paid our bill, tipped the band and returned to the basilica for a visit.
At the ticket counter we were lucky enough to be served by the same lovely lady who had sent us packing earlier in the day. She was as charming as she had been earlier in the day but we got our tickets. We entered the basilica and were greeted with a different sight than others we have visited. The basilica was built in a Neo-classical style to honour the first king of Hungary, King Stephen. IMG_2842.jpegIMG_2843.jpegI was puzzled by why this building was a basilica, not a church or a cathedral. When I looked it up I found that a church is run by a pastor or priest, a cathedral is run by a bishop and a basilica is a church that has been given special privileges by a pope. In this case, honouring the first king of Hungary. You’re welcome. As I was saying, the interior of the basilica was more ornate and lavish than many of the churches and cathedrals we have visited. Lots of gilded figures. Carrara marble everywhere. A huge ornate dome. A beautiful pulpit. It’s really something to see, and taking pictures is no problem.IMG_5188.jpegIMG_5187.jpeg One of the most important relics in the basilica is the mummified right hand of St. Stephen of Hungary. Kind of creepy, but like everyone else I had to have a picture.IMG_5189.jpeg After admiring the basilica, we set decided to return to our apartment for a break. Neither of us were very hungry- remember the langos - so we had a light dinner. After dinner we again returned to the streets to soak up more of Budapest’s night life. We wandered around people watching. The crowds were even larger than the previous night. We ended up at a ruin bar which happened to be around the corner from our apartment. I ordered Arlene a cherry beer then pointed to my selection. It seems I was trying to order soup. We got that straightened around and took our drinks further into the bar where a trio was playing their original songs. Don’t think we have to worry about seeing them at the Superbowl half time show. It was getting late so we hiked the 100 meters to our apartment and called it a night.

Posted by Basebrown 17:10 Archived in Hungary

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