Published: August 23rd 2011August 20th 2011
August 20th- Today is a Hungarian National Holiday, St. Stephen's day. Our wakeup call was about 7am and we were down to breakfast shortly after 8. The spread today was not as nice as our last hotel, but suitable. Mom had her oatmeal (brought from home) and I enjoyed the toast. We stopped at the front desk on the way to the train to ask about the holiday festivities. The nice man at the front desk pointed us to the Castle District on the Buda Side. We headed for the metro and went straight there. When we got out of our destination station on the metro, we surfaced to view's of the Hungarian Parliament building right on the Danube. It was breathtaking. We strolled down the promenade toward the Castle district and watched as the vendors setup for the day's festivities. After a climb up towards the castle district, we were pleasantly surprised by St. Matthias Church, and the Fisherman's Bastion, which gave wonderful views of the Pest side of the Danube. Little known fact.... Buda is on one side of the Danube and Pest is on the other side. We wandered around the Bastion and the surrounding area for a bit. My mom sampled a strudel from a woman's selling them on the side of the road..we will call this lady...Mamasita. Mamasita took my mom for a ride with an expensive, stale pastry that almost broke her tooth (there was very large seeds in it.) We wandered by Mary Magadeline Church, The Hospital in the Rock and then headed for a super market to grab lunch. Lunch was simple.... My mom is always happy with a coke and potato chips for lunch. After lunch we headed for St.Matthias Church. We wandered around the church...simply amazing and then headed for the Royal Palace. This is where the fun really began....As we approached the palace, we started to see vendors and tents setup. We got a look at Hungarian Crafts being made...everything from pottery to hand stitched linens and wood crafts. We wandered around this area for several hours...we saw a band, an fantastic air show, and a traditional dance. We then took the funicular down the side of the hill to find mobs of people on the bridge and promenade, celebrating their national holiday. We made our way back to the metro and headed for the House of Terror.... a museum which focuses on the abuse of Hungarian citizens by the Nazi and Communist regimes. We rested in their cafe and then took a look at the museum exhibits. This musuem was wonderfully done. It is somewhat similar to the Holocaust museum in DC. The exhibits made the hair on the back of my neck stand up and brought tears to our eyes because it demonstrated all of the lives lost during 50 years of communist oppression. After the museum, we decided to head back down towards the danube to grab dinner and then make our way to the fireworks display which started at 9pm. Dinner was at a very nice place in Pest. The dinner was delicious ( a side note about Budapest..... we are finding that everything here is relatively cheap as in comparison to other spots in Europe.) Our dinner was beautifully presented and it cost us about $25.00 total including tip. After dinner, we strolled towards the fireworks while we enjoyed a gelato. The promenade was packed with people and we decided to stay for a few minutes of the fireworks and then head for the metro..as we didn't want to fight the crowds. The fireworks were set off from three different locations around the danube... the backdrop of Buda was amazing. We stayed for about 15 minutes and then headed for the metro. The metro was empty and we quickly made it back to our hotel. (A side note about our hotel...it is ultra modern. The lobby is white and silver and light with colored lights. Our room is very modern, including a bathroom that was a large window that looks into the sleeping area...so basically, the person in the bed can see the person showering...luckily there was a shade that could be pulled). We washed off the sweat and city grime and then tucked into bed.