Today we decided to explore the other side of the Danube. We’ve been staying in Pest, which is relatively flat and just right for walking. Buda, across the river, is hilly and steep. We decided it might be a good day to take a hop on hop off bus tour. It would give us a chance to see the places we’d already visited from a slightly different perspective, get us over the river easily, and do the hill climbing for us. Additionally, not having to walk so much would give the toes on my right foot a bit of relief from the the pain of the blisters I’ve developed.
The bus tour begins at St Stephen’s Basilica, just a few hundred metres from our hotel and takes us all the way up Andrassy Avenue to Heroes Square, so this was familiar territory for us and we quite enjoyed seeing it all anew from the top deck of the bus.
Over the river, we skipped Buda Castle (we’re leaving that for tomorrow) and headed up to the high point of the hill at the Citadel. The views of the Danube and Budapest from there are quite stunning, and we just sat and enjoyed them for quite some time.
It was here I did my good deed for the day, paying for a lady to use the toilets because she didn’t have the 300 forint in cash and they wouldn’t accept card payment and she was desperate. The humourless woman taking the cash showed no sympathy, so I pulled out some cash and said it was my shout. She was so grateful that it made me feel like a boy scout who had helped an old lady across the road.
We wandered around the base of the Statue of Liberty, a huge statue of a woman holding aloft a palm leaf, that can be seen from a great distance along the other side of the river. I’m still in awe of the remarkable artistry of the people who made the magnificent statues and sculptures that are so prevalent in the cities we’ve visited.
The bus tour ticket included a boat ride to Margaret Island and back. I felt a little disappointed that an island with the same name as my lovely wife appeared to be quite uninspiring from our viewpoint, but the compensation was two opportunities to cruise past the magnificent Hungarian parliament buildings, which are reputedly modelled on the British parliament buildings.
The bus pulled up at our final stop, just down the road from our hotel, just moments after a boozy bunch of British yobbos, who were mostly dressed in women’s clothing, descended from a beer bus and headed towards the same hotel. One loudly proclaimed to the whole street that he was prepared to make the apology to the police, while his mate proudly announced to all who could hear him that he was currently up to seven pints. We held our breath as they approached our lobby, then breathed a collective sigh of relief when they kept walking past – obviously in search of the next pub. These are the first lot we’ve seen in Budapest, whereas they were quite common in Prague. And they’ve got the cheek to call our lot convicts!