Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Búcsút Budapesten (Goodbye to Budapest)

This, I promise you, is the last posting from Budapest. Failing any more disasters (please, God, no...) we'll be on the 1525 flight tomorrow back home.

I've decided I like Budapest, or rather, Central, Interesting, Budapest. Where all the posh buildings, nice shops and fascinating history are. You can keep the rubbish outskirts bits with its multistorey characterless Communist-era housing blocks. No, just point me in the direction of the Art Nouveau buildings with high ceilings and chandeliers, and interesting street lamps, and bizarre statues in parks and I'm purring with delight.

So in honour of it being my last full day here, I decided to have my final wander around, to go down some streets I've not been down before, just to see what's there.

I started by returning to the square where the Liptons Teabag and the single boob are located but - what's this? - the triangular rusty metal statue with the cut-out man HAS GONE!!! There's nothing left but a rusty rectangle on the pavement where it was. How very bizarre. I wonder if it's been nicked for scrap.....

Anyway, I headed alongside the Liptons Teabag pond and was extremely fortunate to be passing at the same time as some municipal chappy was wading around the back of it, tipping in some sort of powder (presumably chemicals to keep the water clear) which made it look like the water was hot and steaming:

Just beyond this, opposite the Single Boob, is a very interesting piece. Not sure who it is and I forgot to write down his name, but it's a flat slab of marble into which the image has been cut. If you pressed a big enough lump of cookie dough into it, you would get a really big biscuit with a 3-D model on it.

I carried on walking down the road you can see behind the cookie statue. This took me close to the Grand Synagogue that I visited a couple of weeks ago but failed to get a decent picture of the front of it, so took the opportunity to rectify this:

The road I was walking along was very busy and a little bit run down. The buildings had not been cleaned, some were empty and graffitied. There were loads of cheap pound shops but also a lot of much more interesting antiquarian book shops. A little further down I walked passed a university which was right next door to the National Hungarian Museum. Sadly I didn't have enough time to have a look in:

Walking on past this I came to Kalvin Ter, a square with a very plain Calvinist Church surrounded by very modern buildings and lit by the ubiquitous beautiful street lamps:

Kalvin Ter is being renovated (Hungary joined the EU in 2004 and, as a result, has received billions of Euros in funding - there's a lot of renovation work going on), and my eye was caught by this rather futuristic, um, roof-thing that's above the entrance to an underpass. There's something quite War of the Worlds about it, I think:

Somehow I managed to miss the turning I wanted and found myself approaching the Central Food Market, which I'd visited the other day. It's beside a very beautiful and elaborate dark green bridge (the Liberty/Freedom Bridge, or Szabadság híd). When I last visited it was very murky weather but today was bright and sunny, so I decided to cross the bridge. The sun was starting to go down and, before I left for Hungary several lifetimes ago, my brother instructed me to get photos of sunsets over the Danube. This has been the first time (a) I've been in the location and (b) the weather's been good enough.

This is a very pretty bridge and the views are spectacular:

I spotted this chap on the shore - I wonder what the likelihood of him catching anything is?

As I was more than halfway over the bridge, I carried on to the other side, to investigate what this might be:

I walked off the bridge, crossed the road and went up the hill to the cross on the top, and found I was at the Cave Church. This started life as a hermit's cave, lived in by St Istvan Kiraly and over the years, the various chapels inside the rock were dug out by monks. The Communists didn't approve and cemented it up for 40 years. It was reopened in 1989. My pictures weren't very good (mostly because I couldn't use the flash) but if you click on the link, there are much better pictures on another website.Entrance to the Cave Church

Modern statue of the hermit, St Istvan Kiraly, looking glum

There is, though, if you stand behind the statue and face the river, an absolutely cracking view of the bridge:

By now I'd been out for about 2.5 hours so thought it was time to head back.

I think it's probably quite unusual to spend 2.5 weeks in Budapest as I've just done, but I would absolutely recommend at least a few days, if you can. It gets very hot here in the summer, in the 30s/90s which can make it uncomfortable as air-conditioning is not common. Although Budapest apparently doesn't get much snow in the winter, I can imagine it can get bitter so spring or autumn are probably your best bets, but if you get the chance, do come on over. It's pretty cheap, lots of people speak at least some English and everyone we met has been nothing but kind to us.

But I am looking forward to going home tomorrow....

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