Day 2: A Visit to the Castle in Buda

Wow. I just re-read my last post and please forgive me for my lack of proper grammar and English! How is it possible I hold two degrees? Ah well, let’s chalk it up to travel exhaustion and jet lag. And maybe a cheese hangover.

It’s my 5th day in Budapest and I still haven’t blogged about the weekend! So, let’s hop to it.  Even though due to a lingering National Holiday observance that shuffled Hungary’s workweek to include Saturday, Chris ended up not working the holiday and was able to spend Saturday and Sunday exploring this amazing town with me.  Despite this being his 6th or 7th trip to Budapest, work demands have prevented him from enjoying many of the sites the city has to offer.  We decided to start our Saturday off by exploring the Buda side of Budapest.  After filling up on another hearty breakfast at the hotel buffet, we set out for the Chain Bridge to cross the Danube and make our way up the hill to the Castle.

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Lions perched on the Chain Bridge linking Buda and Pest over the Danube.

After crossing the bridge, tourists have the option to take a funicular up the hill to the top of the Castle courtyard, or if you are like Chris and I and tend to over eat at breakfast, you’ll opt for the cobblestoned switchback, which rewards the hiker with lovely scenery and quiet atmosphere.

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Lovely mosaic on the rampart wall below the hill that the castle rests upon. The crown is St. Istvan’s, the patron saint of Budapest who christianized the Magyar Empire and was presented the crown by the Pope.

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P1020745 P1020741 P1020747   P1020749We reached the top and meandered our way through the derelict courtyard until we saw a sign that seemed to ensure a proper direction.

P1020748 P1020756 P1020754 P1020752 P1020753P1020750Moving through yet another courtyard, we skipped the national museum and decided to wander the grounds and take in the scenery. Besides, the garden provided plenty of art and statuary to appreciate. For example, the heartbreaking King Matthias Fountain that illustrates the legend of a common peasant girl, Ilonka, who came upon the handsome hunter as he tracked the woods near her home. Immediately love struck with the hunter, she tracked him down and was crushed to discover that not only was he out of her station, but pretty much as far out as he could be, being King and all.  Like many tragic romantic legends, Ilonka couldn’t bear the class division so she took her life.  Normally I’d tell a girl like her “Forget it! There are plenty of other guys out there!” but when your’e a lowly peasant girl in the medieval ages who lives in the woods, that might not be the case.

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Matthias at the apex and the tragic Ilonka on the bottom right. The King’s scribe and entourage tier below him on the left.

P1030533We moved along through the courtyard and right towards and archery clinic.  Chris volunteered to be a tribute in the Hungary Games by rockin’ a crossbow. He fared well given that the arrows were pretty beat up from previous “archers”.

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Making our way along the footpath we passed an apothecary museum, cafes, gelatarias, and icon shop until stood before an ornate Plague column in front of Matthias Church, named after the aforementioned King because this is the church where he was married…twice. But not to Ilonka.

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Love! Love LOVE! The tile of the roof.

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Sadly, due to it being Saturday and a gorgeous location, we were deterred from entering the church because of back-to-back weddings. I’ll let it pass. We busied ourselves with admiring the exterior of the church; particularly the brightly tiled roof and after a quick refreshment at a café in the park, we set out for the Fisherman’s Bastion that traces the slopes of the hill behind the church. Before entering the wall of the bastion, you are greeted by yet another imposing statue, but this one of St. Istvan, the patron saint of Budapest. Istvan was the father of King Matthias and the first Christian King of the Magyar Empire. Hence, being beatified.  He sits tall, atop his horse in front of the bastion that is anchored by 7 turrets, each turret representing a tribe of the Magyars. Walking along the bastion wall we were treated with a lovely view of our side of the Danube, Pest, and a great shot of the Promenade front of the Parliament building.

P1020782 P1020787 P1020785 P1020776 P1020794 P1020795 P1020796 P1020802 P1020807Satisfied with our gaze on the city skyline, we made our way back down the hill and towards a destination that would soothe our aching feet. But that, that I will save for another post. In the mean time, here is a spoiler.

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