Free Walking Tour in Budapest

Budapest: the Hungarian cities of Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube. This was to be our last stop before we met up with Earl’s mom, Yvette, for the next stage of our travels.

Because, as we headed west in Europe, guest houses like we stayed in earlier were becoming more rare, and hostels busier and more common, we opted to book our accommodations through AirBNB. That meant we stayed in a private home rental for about the same price as a private room in a hostel, but with our own cooking and laundry facilities (Hurray! A washing machine — that meant a break for me from handwashing, which I’d been doing for months!). And it meant we were in more of a residential area, so we were on the bus or metro nearly everyday.

The metro on our way downtown

The metro on our way downtown

We opted to take a free walking tour to acclimatize ourselves to the city to start with.

We met our tour guides in front of the lion fountain

We met our tour guides in front of the lion fountain

It was cooking hot out — the heat wave continued! But we packed lots of water, and refilled at the city’s many fountains (like the lion fountain) as we went.

Admiring Castle Hill with the Royal Palace from across the Danube

Admiring Castle Hill with the Royal Palace from across the Danube

Our tour started by walking us past a few impressive statues (little did we know at this time, that Budapest is LOADED with impressive statues!)

Up close with The Little Princess

Up close with The Little Princess

The Archduke Joseph Statue

The Archduke Joseph statue

We strolled through St. Stephen's Square, right past St. Stephen's Basilica, and paused for a few photos

We strolled through St. Stephen’s Square, right past St. Stephen’s Basilica, and paused for a few photos

Then we continued down a busy street lined with cafes and terraces

Then we continued down a busy street lined with cafes and terraces

We stopped in front of a building where you could still clearly see bullet holes from the revolution against the Communists

We stopped in front of a building where you could still clearly see bullet holes from the revolution against the Communists

Another look across the Danube and we could clearly see the Matthias Church in the distance

Another look across the Danube and we could clearly see the Matthias Church in the distance

Looking rather deserted, we passed the Academy of Sciences

Looking rather deserted, we passed the Academy of Sciences

Finally, we moved from the Pest side of the city to Buda, via one of the city’s many bridges.

The Chain Bridge, guarded by lions on either side

The Chain Bridge, guarded by lions on either side

We started to climb the steep incline up Castle Hill, and stopped to look behind us:

From the opposite side of the Danube, Budapest's Parliament Building, one of the largest in the world

From the opposite side of the Danube, Budapest’s Parliament Building, one of the largest in the world

The first king of Hungary, St. Stephen is on horseback in front of the Fisherman's Bastion

The first king of Hungary, St. Stephen is on horseback in front of the Fisherman’s Bastion

St. Matthias Church is a Catholic church at the top of Castle Hill

St. Matthias Church is a Catholic church at the top of Castle Hill

The Turul is a mythical bird (a symbol of power, strength, and nobility) carrying the flaming sword of Attila (the Hun), who is considered the very first of all the kings of Hungary

The Turul is a mythical bird (a symbol of power, strength, and nobility) carrying the flaming sword of Attila (the Hun), who is considered the very first of all the kings of Hungary

After a little more exploring and wandering around the castle (which wasn’t nice and “castle-y” after all the castles we’ve seen in India and Serbia and Romania most lately, so we didn’t take too many photos), the walking tour ended, and we headed back towards the Pest side of the city.

Back across the Chain Bridge, one of the first suspensions bridges of its time

Back across the Chain Bridge, one of the first suspensions bridges of its time

Directly across from the Chain Bridge is the Gresham Palace, now home to the Four Season Budapest.

Gresham Palace

Gresham Palace

 We snuck in for a quick look around (and a restroom break -- hotels always have the nicest restrooms!)

We snuck in for a quick look around (and a restroom break — hotels always have the nicest restrooms!)

By this point, we had decided two things:
1. There was lots more to explore in this incredible, history-filled city
2. We were going to take at least one more tour, The Jewish Tour, and consider the Communist one as well

Why wait? Check out our next blog post to see some of our explorations!

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