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To the capital of Hungary, Budapest

Home -> Europe -> Hungary -> Travelogue Hungary -> 25 June 2003

Wednesday 25 June, to the capital of Hungary, Budapest

The heat of the sun drives us out of our tent at 8 o'clock. It has its charm to have breakfast outside sitting in your underpants. We are already transpiring when we get into the car.
From Eger we first drive to the west, through the Matra mountainrange. Here can also the only mountain be found that is higher than 1000 meters, the Kekesteto (1014 meters). This region is a skiing area in development, a good stimulation for the economy in this region. Speaking of economy: we thought Hungary was a cheap country, but compared to Poland and Slovakia it is expensive. And not only in the touristic areas. Only in a bar at Eger and in a cafetaria near the road we paid less than € 2 for a cup of coffee. A litre of gasoline is a bit more than € 1, diesel a bit less than an Euro. The cheapest beer in the supermarket (in can, half a litre) costs € 0,58 (€ 0,38 in the Dutch supermarket). A hot meal without appetizer and dessert is at least 10 to 15 Euro while we paid for 2 hot meals, 2 large beers, a coffee and a softdrink less than € 7 in Slovakia. And there are many more examples, but the point is that Hungary is not as cheap as we (and probably most people) think. We hope the Hungarians earn enough to keep up with the inflation and eventually it will be very good for Hungarian economy, of course.
View on the Danube, BudapestBy the detour we take through the Matra mountains it takes us almost 3 hours before we reach Budapest, but we quickly find a place to park the car in the towncentre (€ 1,35 an hour) and we can start walking. We start in Buda, on the western bank of the Danube and climb the castle hill, so we will have a nice first view over the city.
Budapest originated in 1872 by merging the cities of Obuda (old-Buda), Buda and Pest. Pest lies on the eastern bank and the landscape is flat; the other two areas are situated on the western shore and are build on hills. Almost 2 million people live in Budapest, that is 20% of the total Hungarian population. The next city (in numbers of inhabitants) is Debrecen, with 'only' 220,000 people.
Matthiaschurch, Budapest Matthiaschurch, BudapestThe castle itself is not very interesting and we walk toward the Matthiaschurch. Well, after having climbed a few hundred steps.
Parliament in Pest, BudapestFrom this height we have a nice view over the Danube and the city of Pest. On the picture you can see the Parliament of Hungary.
Fishers bastion, BudapestThere are many more interesting structures and monuments here. We don't know exactly where this tower belongs to, but it looks very pretty. We don't feel being very 'cultural' today, so we walk around and enjoy whatever we see. Like the outdoor bars we encounter, to recover a bit from the heat.
Church at BudapestAccording to our travel guide Budapest is not a pretty city and for some part we agree. Most old cities don't look better with all the new architectural additions from the last few decades and not all old buildings are pretty. But, on the other hand, all cities have their own charm and the charm of Budapest is it's view on the Danube and the large structures one can see from far. That way it looks very big.
The Danube, BudapestBudapest always has aspirations to become a city like Vienna, but hasn't succeeded. But the broad Danube itself separating the parts of the city and the view from the castle hill gives the city a certain look.
We realise how big this city is when we look at our watch: late in the afternoon. We have walked for hours (and sat down quite a few times to refill the liquid we lost by sweating) and we still have a couple of hours to drive back to Eger.
Time for a refreshmentOne day at Budapest is enough for us, although we missed Obuda and the Roman remnants there. They really seemed worth a visit; maybe next time. We have more to do and to see, and first of all: we are on holiday, so we don't rush and certainly no overtime.
In Eger we go to the centre square to the the same bar as yesterday and again, there are several groups of artists playing Hungarian folk music. The temperature drops quicker than yesterday, but still it is nice enough to sit outside until late. We are remarkably little troubled by insects, only a dozen or so gather around our gaslamp at the campsite and no mosquitos at all.


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