Saturday, November 24, 2018

Budapest Part 2, Hungary

Wed 19 Sep 2018

Our travel to Budapest started today with the Parliament building on the Pest side, overlooking the Danube river. It is an impressive building, completed in 1904. To get to the Parliament building, we took the Metro to Kossuth Lajos Ter (Kossuth Lajos Square)

Budapest parliament

Budapest parliament

From the Parliament building on the Pest side, we went across the Danube to the Buda side, towards Buda castle, taking the tram no 2 from Kossuth Lajos Ter to Szechenyi Istvan Ter, then took bus no 16 to Clark Adam Ter. We hiked up the hill to Buda Castle from there, although there is an option to take the funicular train up. It was not a steep hike, so we think it was better to hike.

view of Danube river from Buda castle
view of Danube river from Buda castle

Word of caution! We intended to take a tour of the Buda castle, but ended up entering the Hungarian National Gallery instead as the main entrance that greets you from the funicular train or hike up is the gallery. Ticket entrance is HUF 1800 per person. We walked into all corners of the gallery trying to find any displays of splendour such as the one we experienced at Windsor castle, with castle furniture, apartments, ornaments and such; but there were only paintings. It only occurred to us that we might have entered a gallery instead - true enough - it was the case! Nevertheless, the paintings were remarkable, I especially enjoyed those from the 19th century as they depicted the scenes from the bygone era.

Buda castle - Hungarian National Gallery entrance

a painting in the Hungarian National Gallery

Not giving up yet, upon exiting the gallery, we went around the castle building in search for another entrance to a castle tour. We found the entrance to the Budapest History Museum on the opposite side of the gallery entrance and paid another HUF 2000 per person. The History Museum has displays of ruins from the original medieval castle, crockery, coins, books, weaponry, costumes and some furniture.

Buda castle - Budapest History Museum entrance
Buda castle - Budapest History Museum entrance

some of the remaining of the medieval Buda castle

cellar of the medieval Buda castle
Gothic hall of the medieval Buda castle, completed during the reign of Sigismund of Luxembourg (1387-1437)

Us at Buda castle

From Buda castle, we walked to the Fisherman's Bastion, a picturesque  terrace on the same Buda side as the castle. It was designed and built between 1895 and 1902. Also near to the Fisherman's Bastion is the Matthias Church, a Roman Catholic church originally built in 1015. It has the unique multi-coloured tiled roof.

Fisherman's Bastion

Fisherman's Bastion terrace

Fisherman's Bastion

Matthias Church

Matthias Church

After lunch (again at Istanbul kebab) and a bit of rest back in our room (a welcome respite from the  hot afternoon), we went out again around 4pm to Vajdahunyad Castle, a smaller castle in the City Park built in 1896. The nearest Metro station is Szechenyi furdo on Line 1.

Vajdahunyad Castle

Vajdahunyad Castle

a lake at Vajdahunyad Castle

Vajdahunyad Castle

Not far from Vajdahunyad Castle is the Hero's Square or Hosok Tere. It is surrounded by two important buildings, Museum of Fine Arts on the left and Palace of Art on the right. Info taken from here.

Hosok Tere Metro station, opened in 1896

Hero's Square or Hosok Tere

Palace of Art

We end our Budapest tour today with a river cruise on the Danube, taking the free ferry ride (included with the 72 hour travel card) from Batthyany Ter to Boraros ter which took about 40 mins.

our ferry from Batthyany Ter
Danube river cruise
Danube river cruise

 Thu 20 Sep 2018

We received notification last night that our Qatar air flight would be re-scheduled to Fri 21 Sep 9.40am from the original Thu 20 Sep at 11pm. Since we did not book any accommodation to spend the night, we decided to go to the Qatar airways office at Budapest Bank Center to enquire if the airlines would offer us accommodation. It turned out they did not, but we could re-schedule our flight to earlier at 5.30 pm today, so we agreed to it as we have covered most of the sites in Budapest and did not want to incur additional costs.

From the Qatar airways office, we made our way to the Mosque of Muslims Budapest, taking tram no 47 from Deak Ferenc Ter to Csonka Janos Ter. The facade of the building is not typical of a mosque,  so we almost missed it.

inside of Mosque of Muslims Budapest

Mosque of Muslims Budapest facade

Lastly, we made our way back again to the Great Market Hall to buy souvenirs, then had lunch at another Turkish restaurant - Aya Sofya before going to the airport. To get to the airport, we took the 100E bus from Deak Ferenc ter and paid HUF 900 per person (bought from the ticket machine). According to the Budapest public transport website here, a special ticket must be purchased for bus 100E – other tickets or season tickets are not valid for this service. The bus journey took about 40 minutes.

Bus 100E to airport

Budapest airport was packed that day, and our flight was also full, mostly with tourists from Hong Kong / China. At the airport, we performed our prayers inside the Room of Silence, before the immigration entrance, but you'd have to bring your own prayer mat and take the ablution in the restroom.

busy Budapest airport

It was the end of our compact 11 day journey to Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. It had been a great journey with many historical sites, magnificent views and valuable experience.


Budapest, Hungary

Tue 18 Sep 2018

For the trip to Budapest, we travelled by train from Bratislava via the train EC 275 at 11.53am. The journey took about 2.5 hours. We bought the train ticket from the Bratislava train station the previous day for EUR 9 per person. The train ride was comfortable, we had a seat by the window with tables. We arrived at Budapest train station Nyugati palyaudvar at 2.20pm. 

train from Bratislava to Budapest

inside the train

eating packed meal inside the train

Budapest train station

Budapest train station

We then proceeded towards the Metro station to buy the 72 hour travel card (there is no 48 hour pass, only 24 and 72 hour passes) from the ticket kiosk which costs 4150 HUF. The travel card is valid on trams, buses, metro train and ferry. For more info on types of travel cards and prices, go here. We used our credit card to buy the pass as we have not exchanged our currency yet to Hungarian Forint. Validation of the travel card is not required as the date and time of purchase would be printed out on the ticket and you could use it for the duration of your pass. Make sure to show the card if requested by the inspector.

To get to our Budapest City Pension, we took tram no 4 from the Budapest train station (Nyugati Palyaudvar) to Erzebet Korut stop. Our room was comfortable with all the necessities including jug kettle and English speaking stations on the TV. And it was a steal at only EUR 35.10 per night! We stayed for 2 nights and booked via

Osvat street to Budapest City Pension

our room at Budapest City Pension

After resting a bit, we followed our host's recommendation to go to the Great Market Hall (Nagycsarnok) located at the Fovam ter tram or metro stop, built in 1897.  There are stalls selling fruits, vegetables, cheese, salami and ham, and Hungarian paprika on the ground floor; souvenirs, Hungarian food and snacks like Langos (similar to cakoi/youtiao/churros, but is flat) on the second floor.

Great Market Hall facade

inside the Great Market Hall
view of the market from the second floor

salami and ham

Hungarian prapika and spices


Hungarian food

langos stall

langos with cheese and mushroom

Not far from the Great Market Hall is the Danube river, which we crossed by walking the Liberty bridge (or Szabadság híd) from the Pest side towards the Buda side. The Liberty bridge was built in 1896 but was damaged heavily during World War II.

Liberty bridge of Budapest

Danube river

Feeling hungry now, we made our way back to Pest, taking tram 49 to Kalvin ter, as we saw a halal cafe- Istanbul kebab there. We shared a dish of chicken with rice as the portion was big.

chicken with rice dish

We ventured out again to the Danube to get pictures of the city by the river at night, then called it a day.

Budapest Danube river at night

Budapest Danube river at night