Budapest - Sail along the Pearl of Danube

Posted by ~Summer~ on February 13, 2012

Frankly speaking, I'm not really sure if anyone likes to read about my travel entries.

Firstly, I don't take the best photos since I'm only using a second-hand, old model DSLR. Secondly, I probably don't write in the funniest or most engaging manner. Thirdly, who wants to read about the adventures of a ordinary toddler and her parents (even though she might hold the world record for setting foot in the most cities by the age of 2)?

The thing is, I do. I love to write about all these unique and pretty places, I love to look at the pictures and be reminded of those happy family moments, I love to read and re-read and be thankful for being able to see so much of the world.

Which is why I decided to set up a Travelogue page on my blog, in the hope of motivating myself to do my write-ups on those long overdue destinations.

So, the city in the spotlight this time round is Budapest, capital of Hungary. With a population of 1.7 million inhabitants in 2011, Budapest is the largest city in Hungary. It occupies both banks of the Danube river - West bank Buda, East bank Pest - and when they unified into a single city in 1873, that gave birth to the name Budapest.

During our stay in Vienna last summer, we decided to take a one day trip to Budapest since there was hardly any chance we would be heading to Eastern Europe again. You could say it was a stroke of luck, we bumped into a middle-aged man who offered to help us purchase the train tickets and it would only cost half-price since he was a distinguished member of some club.

We were half afraid he was going to take our money and run away with the tickets, but ended up he took us to the member's lounge, used our tickets to accumulate points on his card, then gave them back to us and we were on our way.

See? We woke up at 6plus early that morning to catch the train so we were glad to have the whole train cabin to ourselves where we could lie down and sleep in comfort. There's nothing like sleeping on Daddy's chest and wrapped in his arms, right?

It might not be special to you, but KFC is a real treat for us. Why so? Well, believe it or not, there is not a single KFC fast food outlet in the whole of Sweden, which was disastrous news to me when I first knew it since I'm a such a huge fan of the crispy chicken. Our nearest KFC was in Copenhagen, 3.5 hours drive away and guess what, they only serve original and not crispy chicken.

So, despite having to pay a rather ridiculous price for that KFC meal in Budapest, we probably could have eaten shark fins soup with that money in Singapore, it somehow felt all worth it.

We arrived at the Keleti train station and decided to go on a Hop-on Hop-off city tour by bus and boat in the hope of making the best out of the short day we had.

The thing about Budapest is that it preserves much of its grand, pristine European architecture, giving its nickname "Pearl of Danube". Forbes named it as "Europe's 7th most idyllic place to live" and UCityGuides said it was the 9th most beautiful city in the world.

There, we were all set to board the bus and get ready for a hot day of adventure! The temperature was 39°C and the raging sun was shining down so intensely that we were perspiring every second. We were told by a lady that it had to be the hottest day in Budapest in the last 70 years. Anyway, it was a change from snow and frozen lakes and we were somewhat glad to be able to parade in sleeveless shirts and berms.

The Széchenyi Chain Bridge is a suspension bridge that spans the Danube between Buda and Pest. It opened in 1849 and was the first permanent bridge across the Danube here. Since then, it has asserted an enormous significance in the country's economic, social and cultural life and is now an important landmark- symbolising advancement and the linkage between East and West.

I didn't know why Angel was posing this way (maybe trying to block the sun rays?) but I mimicked her anyway. She was 20 months then and that was the start of her doing cute and unexpected poses for the camera.

This was the statue of Queen Elisabeth in a small garden on the Buda side, who was once crowned Queen of Hungary in 1867. Sadly, she was assassinated and mortally stabbed during a visit to Switzerland. The third newest bridge in Budapest, Elisabeth Bridge, was also named after her.

The Gellert Hill was named after Saint Gerard Sagredo, also named Gellert, a bishop who played a big part in converting Hungary to Christianity. It was said that his martyrdom took place on the hill where he was allegedly placed on a 2-wheel cart, hauled to the hilltop and rolled down, then still being alive at the bottom, beaten to death.

The prominent statue of Gellert had a semicircular colonnade behind and the natural spring turned into a waterfall below the statue, as if symbolising his fate.

Guys are guys, they can just take off their shirts, walk around half naked and no one would care. Nope, my hubby wasn't trying to impress me with his self-proclaimed six-pack abs, he was really hot. Plus he wanted a nice tan. *envious*

We walked around a little more on foot before we decided to succumb to the heat and go on a relaxing boat ride instead.

Buda Castle, also called Royal Palace and Royal Castle, is the historical castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings in Budapest. It is the most prominent building on Castle Hill, the very hill on which Budapest was founded. With its 203 rooms, it now houses many museums, among them the Budapest Historical Museum and the National Gallery.

The Hungarian Parliament Building was the most magnificent one we saw as we cruised along the Danube. Stretching 268 metres in length, it is currently the largest building in Hungary and a notable landmark in Budapest. What was interesting to know was that the building has a symmetrical facade and a central dome. From inside, it is also symmetrical and has two completely identical parliament halls - out of which one is used for the politics, the other one is used for guided tours.

Along the way, we also passed by Margaret Island which lies in central Budapest. There, we saw a handful of locals who were tanning in the sun, naked. Ok, half naked. The younger women were more modest and turned away when our boat approached, while the older ones didn't really mind the paparazzi taking their pictures.

Adjoining to the island lies the Margaret Bridge, which has an odd-looking Y-shaped part and legend has it that it was designed by Gustave Eiffel. It is often mentioned as a 'lying' Eiffel Tower and some sources say that rotating the Margaret bridge it draws the shape of the Eiffel tower.

Need to cool down? Hot milk won't do the job, how about some cold beer?

We took a stroll along the streets of Budapest to further admire its immaculate and majestic-looking architecture before we proceeded to our final destination for the day - St. Stephen's Basilica, a famous church building built in honour of the first king of Hungary.

Standing at 96 metres tall, together with the Parliament Building, they are the two tallest buildings in Budapest. According to current regulation, no building in Budapest can exceed this height. The fact that these two buildings stand equally tall symbolise the same importance attributed to worldly and spiritual thinking.

We took a walk in Szt. István Square and bought souvenirs for keepsake before we saw the Gelarto Ice Cream Parlor. How could we possibly miss out on cheap and yummylicious ice cream on a hot day like this?

I think Angel enjoyed this part best out of the entire day's activities. She had a whole cone to herself for the first time, ate scoop after scoop and just looked like the happiest kid in the world at that moment.

On the way back to the train station, we passed by Hősök tere, also called Heroes Square. It features an iconic statue complex, the Millennium Memorial with statues of the seven tribe founders of Hungary in the 9th century and other outstanding historical figures.

That marked the end of our one day trip in Budapest as we boarded the train back to Vienna and had McDonald's takeaway for dinner. We shared a cabin with a biker family (not motorbikes, but bicycle) who just cycled from Vienna to Budapest and that took a total of 5 days. I guess we were not so lucky this time round, the air-con in the train was faulty when we were in need of some cool air, and even the train had technical faults and I swore it went backwards on several occasions.

Nonetheless, it was still a memorable and happy day out for us. Of course, Budapest offers much more beauty than we could possibly cover in the short day. Still, we were glad to have at least left our footprints, along with much of our sweat, in this city.

To see more of the world, visit my Travelogue page here.


  1. I was just about to reply your message in FB, and happen to see this post, so will write here instead :). I think you are really good writer so don't think otherwise, and doesn't matter you own 2nd hand old DSLR because it's not really the camera but photographer!!

    And always enjoy reading your blog, keep it up girl! love, Kat

  2. Thanks Kat! It's always nice to hear from you, appreciate your support and encouragement!

  3. Awwwwwwww!!!! What beautiful family and photos!!!! I'm so glad to have found your blog!!! I really enjoy reading your blog posts! If you have a chance, please visit/follow my fashion blog. Your supports will mean the world to me. Thank you so much in advance! Have a nice Valentine day!!!

    1. Thanks for the support and Happy Vday to you too!

  4. You use a 2nd hand old DSLR? I post with my iPhone pics too! Haha... And you should log down all your memories! Not just cos we kaypoh and not so well-travelled ones are interested... :P but also cos Angel can read all about the adventures she has had when she was a baby. :) Keep those posts coming cos I'm reading! :P

    1. Thanks Ming! That's very true, I am so going to show Angel all the pics and videos and tell her stories of all the exciting adventures she had! Thanks for the support and let's both keep blogging!

  5. I do! I love reading your posts so keep it coming! :)

  6. Hey, great to hear that you'll be blogging about your past travels. I'd love to read all about them :)

    My hubby and I were in Vienna many years ago (before the kids came along) but didn't have the time to visit Budapest though we'd love to. We had just got on an overnight train from Zurich (spur of the moment decision) and had only 1 day and 1 night in Vienna before taking the train back to Zurich.

    It's great to be able to capture all these memories in your blog!

    Btw, I've liked your FB page.

  7. Thanks Joce for the support! Yeah both Budapest and Vienna are beautiful places to visit and I'd prefer them to Zurich actually. The latter is too commercialised for my liking. Hopefully you guys have a chance to visit all these places and have a romantic time when C and E get older! =)

  8. I was there for 3 nights but seems like you covered more places than me in Budapest(in just 1 day!!!!!) Haiz, Sherin and me really too nua already.


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