Budapest Day 1: Parliament
We had a choice of two flights out to Budapest: one left at Oh-S**t-Hundred Hours, but the other wouldn't have got us to the hotel until dinner time - so we gritted our teeth and went for the early one. I'm not at my sunny best on five hours sleep, and I don't enjoy flying at the best of times, so I probably wasn't in the best frame of mind when we arrived and I was initially underwhelmed by the city. My first impression was that it has neither the stylish beauty of Vienna, nor the charm of Prague - and actually with hindsight I think that's fair - but it has its own appeal and it did grow on me over our visit.
We stayed at the K+K Opera, which is sandwiched neatly between the Opera House (see what they did with the name there?!) and St Stephen's Basilica, on the border of the Central and Parliament districts of Pest. It's a good location from which to walk to most of the main tourist attractions, and we did just that - by rights I should have thighs like willow wands now, but sadly all the walking seems to have been counteracted by the industrial quantities of cake we ate across the four days.
On our first afternoon we went down past the Basilica to the Danube, crossed the Chain Bridge (the first bridge to link Pest and Buda, opened in 1849), and walked northward along the west bank of the river until we were opposite the beautiful Parliament building, then sat on a bench and admired the view for a while before walking back the way we'd come. I took this shot from the bridge on the way back, and it's my favourite because of the light - but I have many, many more! This is CH's choice.
Other things that caught my eye:
The fat policerman - apparently if you rub his stomach you're guaranteed a good meal in the city. I wish I'd known that earlier.
The Art Nouveau frontage of the Gresham Hotel in the square at the eastern end of the Chain Bridge.
One of the lions which guard the ends of the Chain Bridge. It's said that the sculptor wasn't happy with his work and drowned himself in the Danube, though I suspect that may be apocryphal.
The Calvinist Church - they may be associated with austerity, but apparently even the Calvinists couldn't resist a Zsolnay tiled roof.
A rather strange cloud formation over Wellisch House - it looks to me like a thought bubble coming from the house, which has been spectacularly renovated in recent years.
St Stephen's Basilica - the frontage and dome.