This morning I took the train from Zagreb to Budapest. I was met at the train station by my friend Anna who is from Budapest and was home visiting her family for the summer. The first order of business was dropping my stuff off at the place I was to be staying, which was conveniently located right next to the train station (Budapest Deli) where I had just arrived. I found it on airbnb.com, which I had just signed up for and was using for the first time. (This turned out to be a logistical nightmare, since the site requires you to verify your phone number, which was nontrivial given that I have no phone with me; I managed to get around this my having them send a text to my dad and having him email me the verification code.) I got a great bargain on a spare bedroom in the apartment of Luca and Dani, which not only had a spectacular view of Budapest Castle, but also was impeccably designed and decorated.
After that, Anna and I walked up to Budapest Castle, and she gave me a brief tour punctuated with facts about Hungarian history. We eventually wound up at her family's apartment where I ate a yummy home-cooked meal and played many hands of bridge. The next night, Anna and I played online bridge with the other two members of our (former) New York bridge cohort, which involved both bridgebase.com and Google Hangouts and worked surprisingly well. My time in Budapest was mostly spent walking around, so rather than separating my photos by days, I will put the highlights from visit here.
My personal tour of Budapest started in the castle district in Buda. Here is the Matthias church, a fourteenth century church which was extensively restored in the nineteenth century.
Next to the church is the statue of St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary.
Overlooking the Danube is Fisherman's Bastion.
From Fisherman's Bastion I got spectacular views of the Hungarian parliament building, complete with dramatic clouds.
Here are two straight-on views of the parliament building. I like the one with a riverboat in front.
I also got a great view of the old chain bridge.
Crossing the Danube from Buda to Pest, here are views of the castle and the chain bridge from the other side.
This is St. Stephen's Basilica, both from close up and from across the Danube. The church reliquary contains the king's right hand.
This is the memorial to the 1956 revolution, which was installed in 2006 to commemorate its fiftieth anniversary.
This is the central marketplace.
There is a stall selling all the paprika, and I also like these yummy garlic bulbs.
Here are some of the lovely gardens on Margaret Island.
While walking around the island, we came across a statue of Zoltan Kodaly.
There is a bird sanctuary on the island, in which they have storks:
I also saw a white-tailed sea eagle and a demoiselle crane.
All in all, Budapest is a wonderful city. There is so much more to see than is possible in three days. I guess I will just have to go back some day.