The semester in Austria is done! But why go home right away – if I stay a bit longer, the price is “changing my tickets home and whatever I spend traveling around Europe,” which is a significantly better deal than “buying a ticket to Europe, whatever I spend traveling around Europe, and buying at ticket home from Europe.”
My mom didn’t really have the first option there, but she’s been wanting to go to Europe for quite a while, and “well, my son is already there” turned out to be the motivation she needed to plan out the whole route we’d be taking and hop on a plane.1
Thus begins the Whirlwind Tour of Europe.2 First stop: Budapest.
Leaving our hotel we had a solid plan of where to go… which immediately failed because the map we were given was harder to read than I thought.3 We did eventually make it to the river, where we found this nice green bridge with some interesting stuff carved into the rise behind it.
That “interesting stuff” turned out to be a church carved into the rock. Which, as we’ve already established, is right up my alley.
Leaving the church, we decided to continue climbing up the the hill. Good choice, as it turned out, because the view from up there was amazing.
No, seriously, look at that. There were a few statues that I believe are the official reason people go up there, but they were mostly being swarmed by people taking selfies so I didn’t really bother.
We headed back down the other side of the hill, where there was a little multicolored Christmas market… and off to the side of that, this nice little picture of fog and decay. Guess which one I took more pictures of.
Turns out going down that side of the hill means a bit of a roundabout route to anywhere a tourist would want to be, but we did pass through a park that had this little piece of art in it. Something about the split cities of Buda and Pest, I assume, but since I can’t read Hungarian I have no idea what it was actually saying.
We eventually made it to the second big hill in the city, with Buda Castle atop it. The gardens aren’t at their most impressive in the middle of winter, but they still look nice.
Getting into the castle is interesting, as there’s quite a few ways to do it. We took one of the side entrances and wound up walking through the wall for a bit.
Once we were out of the walls, the castle itself looked pretty nice – the sun was starting to burn through the fog, and the sky was turning a lovely shade of blue.
From parts of the castle you can see the Citadella, the hilltop that we hiked up to earlier in the day – I thought the two statues lined up nicely.
You can also get a pretty good view of the Parlament building, but the sun hadn’t burned off that much of the fog, so it had an interesting blue haze down there.
There was a surprising amount of construction going on the castle itself – I suppose summer is more the tourist season for Budapest, considering how cold it was when we were there, so it makes sense that they’d do all their construction in the winter.
We started to head down the hill towards the Chain Bridge and the Parlament building, and wound up getting sidetracked by something that looked a lot like Saint Stephen’s in Vienna.
Turns out there’s a beautiful little church built along the hill, as well.
A single tower, which is part of the reason it reminded me of St. Stephen’s…
But inside it was very different – way more colorful, and overall a lot less gothic than the Viennese cathedral.
I’ll interject here to mention the photo up at the top – that’s the view along the Chain Bridge, which was one of our main Sights to See for the trip.
And, of course, the Parlament building. It is rather impressive, though we didn’t manage to catch it at a time when it was all lit up and splendid. Still, rather impressive.
- A moment to appreciate my mom – this whole trip wouldn’t have happened without her, and it’s been a lot of fun so far. She’s great. :) ↩
- We’re not seeing all of Europe by any stretch of the imagination, but we are seeing a good deal more of it than we already have, so I’m sticking with this name. ↩
- I’m not saying I got us lost, but I am saying that maybe things would’ve worked better if the map hadn’t made the underground lines look like roads. ↩