We recently had a week’s holiday to take – Jayne’s job dictates my holidays – we went through the usual process of leaving it late and then desperately selecting a shortlist of cities where we thought the weather might be ok, after a reasonably short flight and we can fly from the north of England. Budapest was the chosen destination.
Budapest is touted as possibly the most beautiful city in Europe and we had a stream of people tell us that it was fantastic. It is. I was looking forward to getting there, no agenda other than walking, photographing the sights and trying to get off the beaten track. We certainly walked – over 70 miles – I photographed it ( I’m a bit embarrassed to say how many shots but it was a lot ) but I’m not sure we got off the beaten track as much as I wanted to.
We flew over Eastern England (and home actually – a first for us) and out over Europe. It was a late afternoon flight on a stunning day, one of the more interesting flights I’ve had. I was glued to the window watching the world go by, wondering about all of lives being played out beneath us. It was dark when we arrived. We were staying on the Buda or Castle Hill side of the city. What we didn’t know was, we were staying in one of the most prominent hotels in the city, sat on the hilltop overlooking Budapest. The Hilton sits on an historic sight and features in every photo taken of the Castle District from Pest. We had time to get out before bedtime and photograph the Matthias Church next door – floodlit – like all of the major buildings in Budapest.
Unfortunately after leaving the best weather of the year in the UK, Budapest was forecast to be a bit dull and cool – not what we wanted. There was occasional sun over the first two days but it was generally grey. Now I have to admit, I let the dullness get me down, I took photos because I wasn’t sure how the week would unfold but I was fairly sure that I was wasting my time. The photos would be disappointing and if it was sunny later we would have to revisit all of the famous landmarks again to get something that I was happy with. This is essentially what happened. The next four days were gorgeous and we did revisit, more than once all of the places that we walked to in the first two days. This meant that we didn’t have the time to go “off piste” or venture further afield as much later in the week.
The sun was rising before seven and we were staying in the best location for watching it rise. By day three I was getting up at 6.00 (5.00 our time) and getting out there with my gear. By day four I was using filters and tripod, not something I usually bother with despite always having this gear with me, and dragging it miles in my backpack. One morning I was joined by a large and noisy party of Japanese photographers, they appeared to have a model with them who danced around the walls of the Fisherman’s Bastion being photographed. Once the orange circle started to appear above the city they started clicking at the horizon like machine guns. We all got on well though and said goodbye as we headed off for breakfast – still only 7.15am.
By 8.00am everyday we were out on foot wandering along the top of Castle Hill wondering where to go that day. We tend to discover the sights as we walk on a city break, frequently discovering things as we head for a distant park or building and research it afterwards with a glass of wine. It works for us. We walked out to Heroes’ Square and beyond, returning by less well known streets. We walked along the Danube to Rákóczi Bridge a couple of times then back into Pest using a different route. Having been under the thumb of Russia for so long and considering its turbulent past there are lots of large Russian style monuments, tributes to great struggles, or the working man – very socialist and very much like Prague in a lot of respects. The Railway stations were also very similar to Prague, you could walk across the tracks and no one bothered. In the main station, now famed for the migrant crisis a few weeks previously, there was a mixture of very new and very old rolling stock from the surrounding countries, all very interesting. Considering that this station is the first thing some visitors to the city will see it is an appalling state. One side of the exterior is shored up and fenced off. This contrasts with the expensive renovation work that has been well executed in the city centre. It really is like stepping into the past when you enter the station building. It all seems to work efficiently though, unlike the UK.
Transport in Budapest is fascinating. Trams everywhere, trolley buses, ancient and new, bendybuses, again, very old and very new, the underground metro, yellow taxis in enormous numbers and of course the river and boats. This never ending eclectic mix seems to operate like clockwork with people moved around in vast numbers seamlessly. The trams looked packed at any time of day. Anyone dealing with tourists seemed to speak very good English, which is just as well as we didn’t have any grasp of Hungarian. Cost wise it was a very economical week for us in a capital city.
Once the weather (or light, to be precise) improved, I cheered up and really enjoyed Budapest. A common comment after visiting is that , although you’ve “done Budapest” you wouldn’t hesitate to go back, which isn’t always the case after a city visit. As ever, I now have a lot of work to do to produce a competent album of work. I think I will end up discarding a lot of the early days material – but then again, I’m not renowned for my discarding skills.
Thank you for looking.
Thanks to Flickr (Mark Schofield @ JB Schofield ) for this crazy evil building. Original date: 2015-10-16 14:32:07
Tagged: , BUDAPEST , EASTERN , EUROPE , HUNGARY , CHURCH , BUDA , PEST , RIVER , WIDE , DANUBE , BLUE , CASTLE , HILL , TRAM , BUS , BENDY , TRANSPORT , PUBLIC , PEOPLE , CITY , PALACE , RUSSIA , MONUMENTS , PARK , FISHERMANS , BASTION , VAROSLIGET , HEROES’ , SQUARE , GELLERT , SPA , BATHS , HOTEL , TABAN , MATYAS , BELA , TOWER , HILTON , CHAIN , ELIZABETH , BRIDGE , LIBERTY , PETOFI , LIBERATION , MONUMENT , CAVE , SCULPTURES , BRONZE , EVIL , SAINT , ST , RUDAS , ANNES , ISLAND