After my friend, Sara helped me navigate back to their place we dropped off my luggage and headed to see the sights. Mind you it’s dark at this point and I have no idea what sights they’re talking about. We arrived at the base of this giant hill, think Enchanted Rock but in the middle of a city and not so dome shaping. Actually, the only similarity is the steep elevation gain, but still, it’s the same. After all the hiking from the past two days I thought this evening would be quiet, but nope not at all. We hiked to the top of the mini-mountain, one of the highest points in all of Budapest, to see the city at basking in it’s own light. On one side I could see the Parliment building lighting up the river, to the other side the national music building changing colors. Absolutely stunning. If you ever go to Budapest 10/10 would recommend making this hike at night on a pretty night. Afterward, we crossed the Elizabeth bridge to downtown in search of mulled wine to warm us up. I was really wanting to go to bed, but I’m glad they persisted after our 4th stop we found mulled wine. It tastes like Christmas and went along perfectly with the rest of our walk through the city’s lights.
The next morning we awoke early and headed to the castle first thing. The day was again luckily very beautiful highs of about 50s and sunny. The castle and nearby attractions were incredible. I had a commanding view of the city below along the Danube river. We watched the changing of the guards at the president’s building, saw the old town and took a photo shoot along the upper wall and turrets. Then we walked again across the bridge to the left side towards Parliment stopping to see the American Embassy (ironically located in liberty square), saw multiple memorials to the Jewish people from WW2. In liberty square next to fountains is where they were forced to leave behind suitcases, books, jackets, etc they are still there unmoved. Along the river next to Parliment building are shoes left after being taken off then shoot into the river. It was a very humbling and touching.
For lunch, there was a quick Hungarian style fast food place we ate at. This will be my million dollar idea inAmerica. Basically, they have different meats prepared but not cooked like chicken, duck, and beef. You choose what type you would like and a side. They then cook everything in about 5 minutes and you stand at a table to eat. It costs about $4 for chicken, potatoes, and a drink. After lunch, we stopped at Cafe Frei (currently where I am writing these post). It’s a cafe with coffee from all around the world. So far I’ve had Turkish coffee in a copper pot, Spanish espresso, Italian espresso, and a couple others (I’m trying to try them all before I leave). We went back to rest for a couple hours before going out to dinner then the bars. We went to this legit Hungarian restaurant located along the Vaci street (it has a giant bull in front of it, very hard to miss). It’s a long street with tons of shops, restaurants, etc also a ton of fun to people watch and window shop. For dinner, I had a nice red Hungarian wine with filet mignon topped with duck liver and grill vegetables. They had local gypsies playing music and singing it was wonderful, absolutely best meal I’ve had so far. I treated my friends since they were letting me crash their place, the total bill about $60. (Helpful hint I’ve learned. If you go at the end of the offseason of tourism it’s cheaper). After dinner, we walked to the ruin bar district, which was the Jewish ghetto during WW2 with the apartments in ruin. Structurally they are sound but someone turned them into a bunch of different bars. For example, we went in Simplier bar, which was really about 8 different bars inside. (Think Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans).
The next morning we woke up and toured the local flea market. I found some interesting things to bring home for family and friends but will do all of my shopping on Monday. After walking through there we headed to the main bathhouse and Heroes Square. Heroes Square is where the founding kings and heroes of Hungry are recognized. The statues of the kings and structure itself were spectacular. We headed towards a castle and park only to find a festival going on. Up until this point, I had a really hard a time of explaining the phrase “wing it”. I just couldn’t find the words right to get the point across. When I saw the tents and music, my friends wanted to turn around. But I said no let’s wing it. Turns out this was a festival for police and firemen with tons of kids activities. I walked around a little bit jealous of the kids because they were getting to put out fires, walk into the smoke house wearing the airmask it was pretty cool. On the police side they were showing off the K-9 units, dogs attacking viticms, search and rescue, basically the dogs being awesome. We really enjoyed the dog watching and were sad when we had to leave. However, I was finally able to explain wing it to them. We walked over to the main bathhouse to find out prices and times for me, I’m going on Tuesday. (I know last 2 days in Budapest will be spent shopping and spa haha). They do have a beer spa which I can’t wait to try out and report back on how it is.
After that fun-filled day, we headed back to change and go to church. The church was called Faith Church and according to the brochure I picked up is “the biggest Pentecostal-charismatic church in Europe”. Due to bomb threats in the past security is pretty tight getting in, metal detectors, pat down, bag searches (I was told about the bomb threats). They did offer a phone with a translating speaking so I could understand for the most part. As far as the theology goes I will cite the language barrier as a slight problem because some of it added up and other parts did not, but I had the feeling of what they were trying to say in the message. As far as the service I will never speak badly about a long sermon again (sorry Steven), it was over 4 hours long. I’m not kidding we walked in at 5 pm and walked out at 9 pm but it was still going on! On the subway ride back we grabbed some dinner and then went to bed.
Due to my friends having work activities going on today I am on my own. They did help me come up with a plan for a couple military/history exhibits that and where to find them. Wish me luck today I’m going to wing it!