The Way I See Things


Budapest Day 4: Opera House

In the morning we walked down to the Danube, passing this pretty theatre on the way. We then walked half way across the Margaret Bridge before turning down onto Margaret Island. For many centuries the island was a centre of the religious life of the country, and it still houses the grave of Saint Margaret after whom it's named, but now it is essentially a large park. Traffic is banned, though you can hire electric buggies if you feel the need, but if you walk with reasonable intention it only takes a couple of hours to get to the north end and back, allowing for a coffee stop.

Items of interest on the island include a large open-air swimming pool, an Art Nouveau Water Tower which is now used to stage exhibitions, and a musical fountain. There's also a small zoo, with unusual fowl including this silkie chicken - which seemed to be as astonished by the size of its own feet as we were.

There is an area in the centre of the island called the Artists' Promenade, containing busts of famous Hungarian cultural figures; but it's said that the busts are stolen quite regularly, and when two were taken last year the city couldn't afford to have replicas made. The Lego Store Budapest and an international advertising agency stepped in and produced Lego replicas of the missing busts, which have now become a tourist attraction in their own right - there are three photos here.

On our way back to the hotel we stopped for a last look at one of my favourite statues in the city: the memorial to the assassinated former prime minister István Tisza.

In the afternoon we took a guided tour around the Opera House, which is splendid. Left to my own devices I would love to have gone to a performance, but opera is not, as they say, CH's bag (though he has promised me Mozart in Prague, bless him!). This is the ceiling of the main auditorium; there are three more shots here.

On our last evening we finally managed to find a restaurant that we would happily recommend to other visitors: the food and service at Cafe Bouchon were both excellent, and they sweetly fitted us in even though we arrived without a reservation on a Friday evening.

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