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  • Writer's picturePeter Antonucci

Budapest, Hungary | Day 2

Tuesday | October 7, 2014

Today, I awoke, dressed, and headed out for a quick and early breakfast.  We went to a local croissanterie around the corner from the hotel, Djaim.  They featured a wall of over three dozen baskets of different types of croissants. I chose to have four different types, which I ate at a small table in the café.

My stomach full, I headed off to explore. I wandered into the center of Pest (that's what the locals call Budapest) where I visited the Basilica of St. Stephens, a neo classical cathedral originally designed and constructed hundreds of years ago.  I climbed the 376 stairs to the top of the dome’s tower where I was treated to the most spectacular views of the city.


But the real highlight of the church is the fact that it contains the nations most revered relic: the mummified right hand of the church’s patron.  St. Stephen, who was born in 1011, lost his right hand at death and it became an object great devotion in Hungary.  It was stolen from time to time, before being “handed over” to the Hungarians in 1945.

After touring a bit more and finally dragging myself through a workout at the hotel gym, I wandered the streets looking for a wonderful place for lunch.  I settled on Strudel; I sat at a sidewalk table and was treated to the constant flow of cigarette smoke from 10 German girls on one side, and four German bikers on the other.

After lunch, I embarked on my first organized tour event, which lasted most of the afternoon. We boarded a bus that took us across the Danube and up to Castle Hill where we had two picturesque stops.  Buda is the oldest part of the city, where the Romans established a military garrison and civilian town at the end of the first century A.D.  It was sacked by virtually every European society and lost every major war it fought, including World War I, World War II, and the 1956 uprising.  Finally, in 1989 it was able to break away from the then Soviet Union and obtain its independence.

The first highlight of our visit to Buda was a stop at the Matthias church.  Although parts of the landmark church date back over 500 years, the church became important because King Matthias married Queen Beatrice there in 1474.  (Matthias became king at age 14, died at 37 and is still renown as the best king in Hungary’s history.) Our second stoop was Gellert Hill, which provided a terrific view of the city.

After dinner at Restaurant 21 in the Castle Hill district, I walked past the Matthias church which looked truly splendid at night.


A short ride home and it was off to bed.


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