Although never quite the centre of an empire, Budapest is impressively grand. I didn’t know that the city is made up of 3 separate cities that have grown together. Buda on the west of the Danube, and Pest on the east and Obuda to the north-east. Apparently the ‘Buda’ part is named after the city’s founder – Atilla the Hun’s brother Bleda!
As with other places on this trip, the city is dominated by massive buildings. Most notably the castle that sits atop Buda hill (more of a palace), Matthias Church next to it, and on the east bank, the Hungarian Parliament.
Compared to the narrow streets of the old districts of Prague and Bratislava, Budapest is spacious. The roads are wide, the buildings are huge, the views impressive.
I’d ventured out to take photos quite early one morning in Vienna and was reminded how important light is to taking a good photo, and how good the light is in the short hours after sunrise and before sunset. Armed with this, I headed up Buda hill about 5pm on my second night there and was astonished at the view. I arrived quite late the night before so had checked into my hotel and not gone much further. I’d spent most of the day working, so hadn’t ventured beyond my street before this, and subsequently hadn’t seen or heard about the parliament, or any of the other dominant buildings.
As a result, I took a whopping 600 photos – most of them that night! Almost as much as Prague, Vienna and Bratislava combined! Although, to be fair I was stuck in a tunnel for half an hour as the rain was lashing down and I didn’t have much else to do.
I really enjoyed Budapest. I didn’t meet as many locals compared to Bratislava but I got an insight into a couple of parts of the city which was really interesting.
I think I was also staying in a lively part of town – perhaps a bit like Camden in London. Busy at night and full of cool/arty bars. On a weekday night, most of the bars that I walked past had live music playing and there were plenty of suitably cool looking people to patronise them.
I should also add a quite note about the place I stayed while in Budapest. I’d stayed in a studio apartment and an aparthotel on previous legs of the journey, and so booked an apartment in Budapest. Turns out that for €35 a night you can rent a whole apartment – the same size as my flat in London! Was pretty sweet I must admit, despite not having the same social appeal of a hostel.
Photos of Budapest here.