On December 10, 2022, we continued our trip by taking the train from Prague to Budapest. Sadly, while in Prague, Steve got sick with the flu and once we arrived in Budapest, I got the flu as well. It was pretty brutal, but we continued with our activities, although with diminished enthusiasm on my part. It didn’t help that we experienced the coldest weather of our trip while in Budapest.
The city of Budapest was officially created in 1873 by merging the cities of Buda, Pest and Obuda. Buda, on the west side of the Danube River, was the older city. Following the combination and leading up to the 1896 millennial celebration of the settlement of the Magyars (Hungarians) in the area, Pest underwent extensive rebuilding.
This included the opening of the first line of the Budapest Metro, the world’s oldest electrified underground railway system. You can experience this bit of history by descending the stairs down to the ‘Vorosmarty Ter’ station and riding the vintage subway car on the M1 line. It was originally named the “Franz Joseph Underground Electric Railway Company”. Subsequently, Budapest has added four more lines to the Metro system.
Budapest has some fun hidden pearls in the form of miniature statues. A Ukrainian sculptor named Mihajlo Kolodko created the tiny statues to celebrate cartoon characters, famous people and events. We encountered a few of them while in Budapest including Kermit the Frog and a teddy bear on the side of the building that is the former location of the British Embassy.
The Buda Castle is a palace complex of the Hungarian Kings of Budapest. It was first completed in 1265, although the palace occupying the site today was built between 1749 and 1769. The medieval palace was destroyed during the great siege of 1686 when the Western European Christian campaign was started to take the city of Buda. Today the palace is home to the Hungarian National Gallery and the Hungarian National Museum.
The Budapest Christmas markets we encountered were quite beautiful and some had the most extensive selection of foods we had seen at any markets to that point. However, we found that the food was substantially overpriced and what we sampled was not impressive, other than the mulled wine and the langos, a traditional Hungarian street food. Langos (pronounced lan-gosh) is deep fried bread topped with sour cream and cheese in its traditional form. However, other toppings such as bacon, sausage, red onion, garlic and paprika are also popular.