Finally, a post about that mythical other side of the Danube, the Buda half of Budapest. A hillier part of the city with Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, and museums, we see it every time we are by the river, but we rarely take the bus all the way over. So when we do cross the Danube, we make sure to spend more than a couple hours there.
Matthias Church is gorgeous inside and out, though we didn’t pay to enter. No ticket is needed to see the Gothic-ish exterior and colorful roof. Its church towers take up only a small part of Buda’s skyline. The massive Buda Castle, so large it holds multiple museums, and the National Library dominate and seem to crush the ground beneath them.
Fisherman’s Bastion and its seven towers sit right behind the Church. The lower terrace is always open, but during the day only a single tower is free to visitors. We climbed it, but rather than paying to see the main upper terrace, we checked out the lower levels and came back at night after ticket control headed home. Its far more romantic after dark anyway. Many tourists are gone and couples are out, as are violin and guitar buskers playing mixes from Titanic and Game of Thrones (you know, cheesy love songs). Public drinking is a national tradition so plenty of people are out with wine and beer and enjoying the view. Sadly, the grocery closed before we got a bottle of our own. Fortunately, we had been at the National Gallery’s Wine Wednesday, so at least we had a part of a drink (and some great art) behind us.
Last weekend we spent several hours outside in chilly, windblown rain to catch a few glimpses of Budapest’s Red Bull Air Race. We planned to go both Saturday and Sunday, only to have all of Saturday’s events cancelled. Fortunately, Plan B was visiting the Budapest History Museum, so at least we had a chance to dry off before bussing home. As a bonus, one exhibits was about the similar histories of Budapest and Krakow (where we are headed in three weeks) giving us some serious anticipation for our next stops in Poland.
Sunday our luck was slightly better – action was delayed, then moved up, then delayed again. Haphazard schedule, but planes were flying! The final round of 4 was cancelled but we saw most of the two semi-finals. Success! Best of all, there were probably fewer people there due to weather; after one delay we snagged a higher up spot in the park next to Parliament.
The air race is stunt flying on a roller coaster track. And in Budapest, its all done just a few feet off the river, between bridges and city buildings. Because of the unfavorable conditions, the famous under-the-bridge entry was scrapped, but all the twists, turns, and loops are still required. The pilots maneuver faster than I could possibly react to anything. Even pulling 10 gs, they find the next gate. We could see some planes drifting with the wind, but no one hit a gate or missed their mark. Its Blue Angels level flying.
If you ever have a chance to see this in person: Go! I’d have happily watched it all day. It partially makes up for missing Seattle’s Seafair this year.
Also: potato donuts (deep fried potato balls) exist. I probably want to eat them for every meal?!