Day 5…Monday 13th June
After exploring the immediate vicinity around our hotel the previous night, we indulged in an extremely comfortable nights sleep ready for a full day of exploration today. Budapest is somewhere I have always wanted to visit so I was particularly excited to be in the city.
To begin with, we left our hotel after a scrummy breakfast and drove to the main part of the city. Why I hear you ask when we were so close? To save time walking into the sights because there was so much we wanted to see. So we’d park as close to the main sights as possible and then walk from there. We found a self park garage which I swear to god made us feel like we were in Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift. It was so cool but I was left wondering how on Earth we’d get the car back out 🤷🏽♀️.Still, we left the car and headed out. It was hot and I had a bit of a funny tummy which is less than ideal when exploring a city. I tried to use the toilets in Burger King but they wouldn’t let me as I had to buy something, which wouldn’t normally be a problem. However, Hungary doesn’t use the euro so we had no cash and for some reason our cards weren’t working in the cashpoints. I say not working, turns out we were just being idiots and it was us being faulty not our cards or the machines. 🤦🏼♀️ We did try five before actually locating a proper ATM and being able to withdraw cash. Phew.The city was beautiful. We walked along one loooong main road all the way to Heroes Square, where, surprise surprise there was a lot of scaffolding. There are many statues within the square with the huge Millennium Memorial in the centre, which began being constructed in 1896 to celebrate the 1000th year since the Hungarian state was founded. The sort of ‘arches’ at the back consist of the seven most prominent figures in Hungarian history. We ended up doing a sort of big loop as from Heroes Square we walked in the direction of the Danube and came back along it.From across the Danube, we could see Buda Castle as well as the magnificent Fisherman’s Bastion. They were the towering structures in the distance and in a weird turn of events, we actually forgot to go back across the Chain Bridge to visit them. Yes, we actually forgot!! There are also the thermal baths we didn’t visit either for some reason so a return to Budapest is definitely on the cards. The next stunning building we came across was the Hungarian Parliament Building. Wow. I mean literally. Wow. It is still to this day, one of my favourite buildings of all time.It was just beautiful at every point we looked. It is a stunning gothic architectural building that opened in 1904 and I think that it is the only building pretty much, that didn’t have any scaffolding on or renovations being done! We continued walking along the river and came across a humbling memorial ‘Shoes on the Danube,’ which are iron cast shoes in memory of the Jews shot by arrow cross militiamen in World War Two. The shoes are all different shapes and sizes. It was very moving. Especially some with flowers laid to rest in them.They were told to take their shoes off and then were shot so that their bodies fell into the river. The shoes represent their shoes left on the river bank. About 3500 people were shot into the river, 800 of them were Jews.Thinking we had seen everything we came to see (which in hindsight we really didn’t and SO should have taken my notebook with us), we headed back to the car via St Stephen’s Basilica, another beautiful cathedral. My computer won’t let me upload it for some reason without a huge grey stripe down the side so I will let you google that one. It is beautiful. My feet were killing me by the time we got to the car. We managed to get the car out of the fast and furious-esque garage, (more like it got itself out of there and we just then got in it to drive out of the city) and headed to our next destination. Prague.
We drove the 330 miles to Prague, venturing into Slovakia on the way to break up the 4 hour journey. Feeling hungry and really fancying a sandwich, we tried to locate a Tesco is Slovakia. You’d think it would be quite easy but our sat nav kept taking us anywhere but to a Tesco. We gave up after about 45 minutes and headed into Prague. It was beginning to get dark. Driving round Prague wasn’t easy with one way streets and very narrow cobbled streets too. Our hotel, Hotel Kampa, was no exception to this and we must have driven round and round and round several times before actually locating it. In the end I had to call the hotel because we were having no luck finding it nor where to park, and we specifically booked hotels with parking. A lovely porter came out to the road to meet us as it turns out we were exactly where we needed to be the whole time. Whoops!! I got out the car and went in the front whilst Nathan went with the guy to park the car. All sorted, we could begin exploring. Despite it being pretty much dark, the city was alive!!It was stunning. We walked from the hotel into the Old Town Square. I instantly fell in love.Home to the Church of Our Lady Tyn, a beautiful gothic church built in 1510, as well as cute cafes, bistros and bars all around the outside of the square. It is situated between Charles Bridge and Wenceslas Square. Also in the square is the Old Town Hall which stands next to the infamous Astronomical Clock.It was beautiful. It has three dials; the astronomical dial which represents the sun and moon’s positions, an hourly clockwork dial which strikes the time depicted by Apostles and other figures including one of Death (a skeleton) and a calendar dial with the months represented by medallions. It dates back to 1410 and has to be taken care of else legend has it, the city will suffer. There is so much detail and history that comes with the clock it truly is fascinating.
Absinthe bars were in abundance throughout the city with outside of bars lit up in fluorescent green. We were quite happy just aimlessly wandering round this lovely part of the city, soaking up the sights and the atmosphere. As we approached the Charles Bridge, we darted in and out of cute souvenir shops. The bridge itself was beautiful. Construction began in 1357 and wasn’t finished until the 15th Century. Across the 621m, 30 statues line the edges of the bridge and there are musicians who perform, painters as well as people selling trinkets. The view from the bridge was simply breathtaking. In the distance we could see Prague Castle as well as riverside restaurants and all the beautiful red roofs of the houses below the castle. We crossed the bridge and headed in the direction of the castle as we had heard about a great viewpoint. What they didn’t tell us was that the viewpoint was up about 300 steps. The view over Hradcany was beautiful and no photos do it justice, especially my poor attempt at night time photography. Still, you could see all the red roofs, the beautiful churches and cathedral below, all from the castle grounds. It was quite easy to find from the bridge as we just followed the direction we could see the towering spires from. We headed back to the Old Town Square and past another beautiful gothic church, St Nicholas Church, before heading back to our quirky hotel for a good nights sleep.
Until next time…