Day Four. Churches and Pub crawls

Using up the last of our loaf of bread, we decided to start the day off right with some french toast. Our last full day in Budapest today, and so we didn‘t want to waste a minute. Having a good breakfast means a good day, right? At the very least we put that theory to test.

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Having somehow missed out on the past few days, we planned to visit two of the gorgeous churches that we’d seen around the city, in order to actually see the inside as well as the outside. We forgot exactly how far the churches were and so managed to underestimate how much walking we were going to be doing, but luckily we all wore good walking shoes. For better or worse the forecast had changed from the last time we had checked from thunderstorms and rain to 34 and sunny. Gorgeous and not a cloud in the sky, but even more sweat than the last two days.

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First church we visited was Matthias Church, found on top of castle hill. Upon entry, the beautiful walls and floors are covered almost inch for inch in patterns, florals, murals and icons. Stunning. The Hungarian University of Fine Arts was involved in a restoration project, which fixed many of the wall murals, some paintings, as well as a few sculptures and such. Well worth a visit.

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Coming out of the church there is also Fisherman’s Bastion – feels a little like a visit to Hogwarts. There you will find beautiful architecture, and a really interesting vibe. You have to pay to go into the little lookout itself, but the arches leading up to it still lend a fantastic view of the city if you don’t feel like paying the extra. When we were done with glorifying and praising the view, we went back around to the front of the church, for a last couple of shots and to cool off in a sprinkler.

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En route to St. Stephen’s Basilica, we took a moment to climb a street lamp – who could resist when they’re basically ladders? Then we continued on our way to cross over the Danube River one more time. St. Stephen’s is beautiful, gorgeous, everything you would expect from a famed European Church. We didn’t quite catch a glance at St.Stephen’s mummified hand, but we’ve been told it’s there if you’re ever in the neighborhood and want a quick gander.

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Outside the church we took a quick 20 minute break so that Deanna and Nastassia could get in a little sketching, and so that Jan could play with the time-lapse functions on his phone. Not the work of the greats, but it was a fun way to experience the square, people watch, and personalize visiting such a big monument which could often be taken as simply a checkmark on a to-do list.

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After such a long day of church visiting and sweltering in the heat, we decided to opt for eating out and went for some burgers at the place found right under our lovely airbnb flat. Good Bar Good Burger is a great place if you’re ever stranded in central Budapest looking for a quick bite.

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After our meal, Deanna wasn’t hit quite as hard with a food coma as Jan and Nastassia, so she went for a walk to the Great Market Hall. Organized vendors, food kiosks, it’s everything you would want out of a modern day market, with a really cool building to boot.

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Deciding to take advantage of our last night in Budapest, we rested up before heading out on the town with a pub crawl. We were left really impressed with our walking tour earlier and chose the same company to go with. The crawl took us to 4 really great pubs, included 3 free shots, and was a great way to meet a bunch of other travelers. We got to try Hungarian Palinka, which is a really strong fruit brandy. If you can taste a fruit bowl in your mouth after taking a shot, then your taste buds are probably much more refined than ours. Still worth a try though! As well, the last pub we found a table hockey table which, even though one player is broken off his peg and just in the way, was still a safe bet for some friendly competition.

Egészségére!

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Day Two. Don’t touch little girl’s knees

Waking up in Budapest bright and early for a full day of wandering around and exploring the city. A fairly light and easy morning, aside from Nastassia doing an interesting taste test after adding 3 spoons of salt to her coffee, we got ourselves ready and out the door by 10 am.

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We began with a free guided walking tour that leads through the high points of both Buda and Pest. After a quick Hungarian pronunciation lesson, BudaPESHT, we also were made to rub a little princess’ knees for luck. Crossing the Chain Bridge over to the Buda side, we passed into an area contributing an entirely different feel to the city.

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The day was a scorcher, but our lovely tour guide assured us that the tap water was extremely clean and fully drinkable, so we were saved from thirst or overpriced bottles of water by the convenient water fountains located all throughout the city. Climbing up to castle hill, which our guide mentioned wasn’t really a hill and also contains no castles, all three of us were charmed by the custom made Hungarian roofing tiles found atop the Matthias Church. Apparently fire resistant, self-cleaning, acid resistant, and water resistant as well, they are a Hungarian invention, proudly kept secret from all other manufacturers. If you want them for your home, you’re going to have to order directly from the Hungarian artisans.

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Done with the tour and not with the rubbing, we all looped back the way we came from to get a second look at some highlights. This pot-bellied police officer is here only to help you find a good meal, in exchange for rubbing his belly and mustache.

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St. Stephens basilica is just down the road from this officer, and is the largest church to be found in Budapest. Formerly containing the whole right arm of St. Stephen, it now contains only the fist…or most of it, after some good old Christian relic-sharing. It also contains the burial places of several kings and queens, and a particular football star from the mid-1900s who helped break a 90 year British winning streak. Hungary is apparently no longer such a forerunner for football, and this is now an even touchier subject than their political history. As well, a curious note – this was formerly St. Stephen‘s church, but when the pope rolled on by, he made a side comment of what a lovely basilica Budapest had. No one argues with the pope, and so the church is now renamed.

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Stopping at a smaller vendor for a quick bite, some goulash soup and an enormous slice of pizza sets you back 950 HUF, or 4-5 CAD. Not too shabby! Escaping the heat by dipping our feet in a refreshing public pool – under which a club dubbed ‘Aquarium‘ is located (which we may be returning to later…) – we wrapped up our touristy part of the afternoon.

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Handling the more serious, we stopped one of the train stations to book our tickets on our overnight train to our next location. This was supposed to be a quick jaunt, but turned into an hour long endeavor where our tickets for the international train in the capital of Hungary in a big major train station were hand-written by the woman at the cash. Warding off a few questions about whether we were having issues, we finally got the tickets and went merrily on our way to enjoy the rest of our day in Budapest.

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Going for a lovely night walk, we found langos, a traditional Hungarian dish, and then washed it down with a few drinks found at their outdoor vendors. Tequila sunrises and Mojito‘s before bedtime? Can‘t say no to that!

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