Episode 14: Pest, Budapest Part 2

The day I decided to explore Pest, I decided to hit as many landmarks as possible.

I stopped at St. Stephen’s Basilica which is a beautiful church that faces the Danube River.  I saw this church near the ferris wheel when I was sitting on top of the city and I knew that it was a place I had to check out.  When I made it there, it was more beautiful than I imaged it would be.  I love going to churches because there’s so much history and so much amazing architecture that is combined in one building.

After that, I walked down the road to Gresham Place which is actually a beautiful giant ornate building that now houses the Four Seasons Hotel.  I didn’t get a chance to go into the actually building, but the building itself was absolutely gorgeous with incredibly intricate gates/doors leading inside.

From there, I walked out to the Hungarian Parliament.  This is probably my favorite building in all of Budapest.  This is what feels like a giant gothic inspired castle sitting along the Danube.  It’s heavily protected by police and guards but the building is giant and surrounded by a park and greenery. Even with all the people guarding this place, it was incredibly peaceful and calm. Not a lot of commotion, not a lot of people milling around, just a few groups of tourists taking photos and going on their way.  I believe that you can actually go inside of Parliament but I don’t think it was open for tours when I was there.  When I had gotten my fix of Parliament, I headed back to the Danube and stopped by the Shoes On the Danube Bank.

This memorial was simple but incredibly beautiful.  There are about 40 pairs of shoes standing along the coast line of the Danube. These shoes were placed there to honor the Jews who were shot and killed along the river during World War 2.

I walked along the water and came up to the memorial which was being swarmed by tourists taking photos.  At that moment, I felt very calm and reflective as I wandered up to the shoes.  I sat down just a few feet away and stared at the shoes from a distance and reflected on the trip, the memorial and the city.

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After that, I found my way to Andrassy Ut which is a beautiful street full of stores, fantastic architecture and trees.  It felt like an escape from the city.  The end of Andrassy Ut ended at Heroes’ Square with City Park just behind it. When I got to Heroes’ Square, I passed a major metro stop that had buses with “Keleti Station” written across the reader boards on the front.  I didn’t quite realize where I was until that moment and it dawned on me just how close I was to Keleti Station and the migrant issues happening just blocks away.  Knowing that there had been some clashes earlier in the day, I avoided that area and continued into the park. There you can check out the thermal baths (note: if you don’t want to pay to go in, there’s a window you can check out just to see what it’s all about), walked around the park and checked out the castle.  I spent some time sitting in the park and cooling down by the fountain.

When I was ready to start moving, I headed back into the heart of the city or at least what I thought was the heart of the city… I ended up finding myself in the middle of the business district which is no where close to where I wanted to be.  My rule of thumb there was that if I got lost, all I had to do was walk toward the Danube.  That doesn’t always work when you don’t really know where the Danube is.  I had a few failed attempts at getting there but I did manage to find a really cool donut shop called “The Box” which makes square donuts. I ended up finally making it to the river, stopped at the Parliament building to eat my square donut and then eventually made my way back to my hotel.

I ended my last night in Budapest in my hotel because there were migrant protests happening outside of my hotel all night. It was really interesting to experience the protests happening and going to sleep to the sound of sirens.  Overall it was a fantastic city that I’m already excited to go back to.

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