We spent two wonderful weeks in Budapest. It’s difficult to know where to start because there is a lot to talk about. When we looked for an apartment in Budapest, we found one that was really cheap and was a good location, so we chose to simply spend more time in Budapest, relax and explore the surroundings. Our apartment was right downtown on top of a pizzeria, which was very convenient when we came back exhausted from a day of exploration.
Budapest is a great place for a family vacation (not just for young people who wants to party). There are a tons of family activities to do in the city and around. We lived on the Pest side and everything was at walking distance or almost, which was great as we saved some money on the cost of urban transport. Even today, we didn’t quite figured out if the children had to pay or not. The indications we got were contradictory from one person to another, but we survived. The public transport system is well developed and there is a choice of subway, tram and bus to travel within the city. There is also a train system that can get us outside the city, and we used it to do two day trips.
City Park is a beautiful park that covers about a square kilometre near heroes place. This is a must-see monument according to a lot of tourist guides and we went there several times during our stay. It is one of the first public parks in the world. There is a small lake on which we were able to do an hour of paddleboat to the delight of Hugo who had been refused a paddleboat tour in Prague. There is also a play park for the pleasure of the boys who were able to burn some energy there. By the way, there are many play parks in Budapest which interrupted some of our walks for the greatest pleasures of the kids. We decided to drop the public baths because the cost was about one hundred dollars for the four of us & we have hot springs in Canada after all.
The municipal circus is located at City Park. We saw an amazing show for a fraction of the price we would have paid to see a Cirque du Soleil show. The name of the show was “Fountain Circus Show Children of Atlantis”. The artists were fabulous and we were amazed by their performance. Hugo will speak more about this circus show in his personal blog.
It is also in City Park that is situated the Budapest zoo. This is one of the oldest zoo in the world. We spent a full day and enjoyed our visit a lot. Many of the animals live together during the day simulating a more natural environment. To do so, they open the gates between different paddocks allowing animals one more large living space. Kolya will talk further about what we saw in his personal blog.
It’s at 60 Andrassy Street that we visited the Museum of Terror. It is there that the Arrow Cross Party (the Hungarian Nazis) had their offices during WWII . And it is there that after the war, the Soviets Secret Police installed their offices. It was fairly expensive for a non-European family, because children have to pay the same price as adults if we come from outside of Europe. Apart from the tank, they did not very enjoyed this museum. We learned a lot about what the Hungarians have endured after the war under the Soviet occupation. It’s a very popular Museum and when we came out of the Museum, there was a long line to enter.
Our new friend Nora invited us to attend a traditional Hungarian dance-music show in which her husband Daniel plays the Cimbalom. We discovered a new instrument at the same time 😉 A traditional dance show was on our bucket list during this trip and it is with great excitement that we walked towards the castle in order to live this beautiful experience. The show was outside and a large group of dancers gave a awesome performance. At the end of the show, there was even the option of going on stage for a dance workshop for the pleasure of tourists. We took the opportunity of course and Karine and the boys learned some traditional Hungarian steps.
The Budapest Castle Hill
The next day, Nora showed us a part of Buda and we went to a traditional Hungarian restaurant which was delicious. Budapest, of course have it’s own castle, called Buda Castle. Today, the Palace houses apartments and a museum so it was not possible to visit the “castle”. To reach the grounds of the Castle, it is possible to take the funicular, but the queue was very long. You can also climb the steps, which is quite easy, and we enjoyed going up the Royal Way. The grounds of the castle were inhabited and it was very pleasant to walk in these historical streets. We lingered a few moments at Matthias Church, but as the boys did not really want to visit one more church, we observed it from the outside. The tile roof was a real beauty.
The labyrinth of Buda
As it was very hot during our first few days in Budapest, we were continually looking for shadow corners or freshness. It is with that in mind that we decided to visit the Buda labyrinth. This is a maze of caves and tunnels dug naturally by underground waters and later by humans under the site of the Castle. It has been used by prehistoric man. In the middle age, it’s the Royal family who took refuge to escape a siege. At the same time it was also a prison and count Dracula was presumably imprisoned there. Today, it is possible to visit and get lost into the labyrinth, which has been our case to the delight of our boys 😉 In some areas of the labyrinth, it is possible to completely be in the dark, but with the boys we enjoyed the flashlight option on the ipod.
Margaret Island is located in the middle of the Danube, we spent a few hours of pure fun there, it is a pedestrian island. We saw the ruins of the convent where the Princess Margaret lived, beautiful gardens and fun parks for the kids. The boys met children who spoke English and they had a blast with them. The goal was to go to the pool that day, but the temperature was not very nice, so we decided to pass.
Budapest will have a special place in our hearts. We met new friends and found a city full of charm. Since we think our post is long enough, we have decided to write another one for the day trips that we took from Budapest. It will come shortly.