Archive for July, 2018



I have published this only because a travel companion can’t access my blog drafts. These are really my “pre-travel notes” while I’m still deciding which route to take and which travel style I’d adopt.

(Will delete this blog soon……)

Nov 26 Monday 6:35 am. ETA

Flixbus to Ljubljana €27.99

ETD 8:30am

ETA 2:55pm

Hotel (3 nights till Nov 29): ???

Nov 27 Tues to Nov 28 Wednesday

Day trips from Ljubljana.

DIY or join Viator or Hire car?

Lake Bled

Zagreb, Croatia

Nov 29 Thurs :

Ljubljana – Trieste (1hr) – Padua (+2.5 hrs) – Bologna (+1 to 1.5hrs)

Or: Ljubljana – Trieste – Bologna

(Direct Ljubljana to Bologna: 4 hrs by car or 5.5 hrs by train.

Hotel in Bologna (2 nights): ???

Nov 30 Sat

Day trips from Bologna

Parma (1hr)+Modena(.5hr)

Or: Ravenna (1.5 hr) – San Marino (+1.5 hr)

Dec 1 Sunday : Fly back to Vienna or Sleeper train on Nov 30 late pm, arriving Vienna Dec 1 am?

Or indulge…. by hiring car from Bologna to Vienna VIA Padua and Graz?

Dec 2 Monday : Vienna (2 nights)

Hotel in Vienna: ???

Dec 3 Tuesday: Vienna to Taipei

Dec 4 Wednesday: Mla eta 5:50pm

Beyond Vienna


And so, the week breezed by. As I’ve mentioned before, what matters more is the company but the destination helps. On a whim, I flew to Vienna to join up with friends who snagged a promo deal for a flight to Vienna. I meant to just stay a night in Vienna but join them going to Budapest and Bratislava which I’ve long wanted to visit. I also intended to stay behind to enjoy Bratislava a bit more. I blogged within 24 hours of each visit — daily — and uploaded each blog for programmed posting on my FB page. My blogs got published as scheduled meanwhile that I had issues and lost access to the site. (All resolved now; thank God!) I did away with my camera and simply took shots with my iPhone. Free and easy, as can be. Everything conveniently worked out, despite the blistering sun and the rains on the last day. From the free concerts, to easy bus and train rides, to wonderful meals, good hotel locations, walking tours 👣, fresh markets, complimentary beers 🍺 and wine 🍷, and loads of laughter. Swell 😊

Seven nights. Eight days. Nine blogs. Quite a trip. Truly enjoyed …. sometimes, the unplanned ones are enjoyed best simply because there aren’t too many expectations. We went along just thinking we’d have a good time, albeit short, and let the universe conspire to give us exactly that: a really, good time. Beers and vino enjoyed. Food trips. Dozing off on a Danube cruise. A hike up to a promontory to view the Danube collide with the Morava River. Many sit-outs to people-watch, book left unread on the table. Travel journals crafted on an iPhone. Here’s the blog summary. Just click on the link. 👌

Vienna

Buda of Budapest

Pest of Budapest

Sad Symbols from Budapest

Dining in Budapest

First Time In Bratislava

The Ruins of Devin Castle

Alone in Bratislava

What We Ate in Bratislava

I travel light. I think the most important thing is to be in a good mood and enjoy life, wherever you are.

——-Diane von Furstenberg

Bratislava Food Porn


When in Bratislava, eat tons of potatoes, meat, cabbage, blood sausages, venison and other game meat. Drink lots of beer too! And the locals will remind you not to forget the dumplings and the kofola — which is like Coca Cola with a hint of coffee and lemon. And just like its neighbouring countries, it has its own spin on the Hungarian goulash. On my last dinner in Bratislava, I wanted a light meal and settled for soup and salad. When dinner was served, I just stared at this massive salad in front of me. And the soup? It was goulash with dumplings! The one who served me promised a very Slovak dinner even if I just wanted soup and salad. The portions were so generous I wanted to make friends with the pair seated at the table next to mine! Lesson learned: Slovak cuisine is both hearty and generous. Oh yeah. If you’re eating alone, suffer. Or go just have a drink and pica pica.

From Day 1 in Bratislava, we fell in love with their Creamy Garlic Soup and Cabbage Soup. In this corner of the world, cabbage and garlic is life. I should have stuck to those. I said NO to brynzove halusky — potato dumplings with creamy sheep cheese sprinkled with bacon. That happens to be the Slovak national dish and the waiter from Linos Bistro can’t see how I can leave their city without trying it. And so we settled on soup with dumplings. Except that the soup turned out to be the hearty goulash…. with dumplings. Touché!

If I were dining with the boys, there wouldn’t be this problem. I just feel bad about wasting food, but neither do I want to get sick for over stuffing myself. If we didn’t have dinner 2 nights in a row in Bratilavsky Metiansky Pivovar, I would have gone there and ordered the Creamy Garlic Soup. One bowl of that could have been a good dinner. In fact, everything we ordered here those 2 nights were good. The boys enjoyed the pork ribs (even the side dish of peppers), the veal, while I swooned over the soups and grilled cheese. The chicken dish was so-so but ain’t bad. We found this gastropub through our tour guide. Beer was excellent, and I like that one can order a half a litre or 1/3 liter of beer.

Our Bratislava Loft Hotel houses the Fabrika Brewery Restaurant where we had our first meal soon after arrival. We enjoyed our welcome drinks of beer 🍺 and rosé 🍷 as well as ALL of the dishes we ordered. From the salad to pork scratchings (I swear that’s what they called ’em), to lamb shank to risotto. We ordered the risotto thinking we must be missing our Asian staple. 🙄 All winners! Even when we did retail therapy and found ourselves having lunch in a mall, we enjoyed our burgers and pulled pork sandwiches. For drinks, we tried the Slovakian cola. It’s like Kofola. And if you ask me, I’d rather have a lemonade.

This trip was planned in a breeze. Maybe because there weren’t too many expectations and we’re all feeling cheery, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip. It likewise helped that we had good appetites and drank heartily. Not too much, but we sure love to drink a glass or 2 with our meals. And because the food and drinks bills here didn’t burn a hole in our pockets, Bratislava is ❤️. (How can you complain over wine that costs less than €2? Or beer costing €1.20? One dinner we paid €45 for the 6 of us. And that includes our beers!)


The homeward flight is from Vienna but I chose to stay behind in Bratislava before boarding that express bus (Slovak Lines) for the one-hour easy & relaxing bus ride to Vienna Airport. I enjoyed brekkie in our hotel with the boys who left a day earlier, then took off on my own. The plan was to join the afternoon walking tour of “20th Century Bratislava”. Plan B was to do another round of the Old Town, check out the concert hall schedule, visit a museum, lunch al fresco while listening to some music from a street busker, then take the bus to Danubiana Art Gallery which is Bratislava’s own MOMA. Finally, an early evening stroll along the Danube Promenade. Those were the plans. Until it rained. As in the whole day, intermittently. 🌧 ☔️🌧

Grassalkovich Palace is the equivalent of the White House where the President resides. It has a public garden behind which seemed unexpectedly unguarded. The only giveaway that a prominent person lives here are the flags hoisted by the entrance gates. On my last afternoon here and the morning of departure from Bratislava, I passed this corner which is only a couple of blocks from our hotel and took pictures without the tourist crowd.

I took the chance to visit Trinity Church, an 18th century baroque Catholic Church. Situated at the fringes of the Old Town, trams pass by this tiny church with a surprisingly ornate interior and altar. From here I crossed the tram tracks to cross the tiny bridge by the entrance of St. Michael’s Gate. I made good time dropping by the 18th century Neo-Renaissance opera house but they only had ballet performances that evening. Would you believe Bratislava has 2 opera houses? The new one is by the Danube Promenade. I was on my way there to see if I can buy concert tickets when the sky opened up and poured! I only got as far as the Promenade past the UFO Bridge and right before the Slovak National Museum. I took shelter here and made good use of my time. It wasn’t an Art Gallery but a Museum of Natural History. Want to see an extinct woolly mammoth? Come here.

By the time the rain stopped, I’ve decided to skip the concert and the Danubiana Art Museum. Instead, I walked along the Danube Promenade and then took a turn heading for the famous Blue Church. This Church of Saint Elizabeth looks like a wedding cake with creamy frosting amidst a non-descript neighbourhood. It wasn’t hard to find, just that you don’t expect it to be situated here. It was closed but I was able to peer through the windows and took a shot of the interior. Not the best shot, but it will do. 🙄

From the Blue Church I headed back for the Old Town’s Main Square. It poured again. Thankfully, the 18th century Primate’s Palace beside the Old Town Hall has alleyways leading to coffee shops and bars. Getting stuck in LINOS Bistro and Coffee Shop wasn’t a bad idea. I claimed a seat outside watching the rain, watching people rush by, and listening to a busker fiddle with his guitar. When it rains, one drinks. No… there’s no such saying. I made it up 🍷😊🍸

Though the sun sets at 9pm here, I took an early simple dinner of soup and (massive) salad, soaked up the atmosphere of the Old Town then headed back to the hotel. One last stroll in the Main Square, wondering if that 16th century Renaissance fountain should be called Maximilian Fountain or Roland Fountain. Just one of 140 fountains to be found here, but this one’s the oldest. Truly a city of fountains! And then finally, exiting through St. Michael’s Gate out of this charming Old Town. ❤️❤️❤️


Devin is a borough of Bratislava. History records place its first settlement as early as the 5th-8th century B.C., around the time of the Great Moravian Empire. Before Napoleon’s army blew it up in 1809, it served as a boundary fortress and trading port. It became a national cultural monument in 1961 and has since been visited by locals and foreign guests for its strategic location, panoramic views and rich history. The site says the castle is closed on Mondays, but on a Trip Advisor forum someone confirmed that only the Museum is closed while the castle grounds remain open. Swell! Our troop donned our rubber shoes 👟 and off we went via 2 easy red bus transfers (#39 and #29 which terminates just below the castle) to explore the ruins of Hrad Devin. Took us less than half an hour from Bratislava to reach Devin. If you’re driving a car or taking a cab, I’d say you’re there in 15 minutes. Along the way, we’ve met a small crowd of no more than 10 pairs visiting at the same time — all eager to glimpse this well-preserved ruin depicted in Slovakian currency and stamps. In fact, the word “Devin” has become synonymous with anything Slovakian!

Devin Castle is only 12 kilometres from Bratislava’s Old Town and lies on a high cliff right at the confluence of the Danube and Morava Rivers. From the terrace of either the Middle and Upper Castle, you spot Morava joining the Danube amidst a glorious view of Austria (you can ride a boat from Hainburg) across the Danube and where parts of Hungary are visible. We were able to replenish our water bottles in a medieval well within a courtyard just before crossing a bridge over the moat. From here, one climbs the stairs to reach the top platform. I remember a girl of 8-10 years going down the same stairs while I was climbing up with one hand on the rail. She suddenly stopped, looking pale and scared as she looked down. I offered my arm for her to hold on to. Hesitantly she held on to my arm till I got her on the handrail while her dad waited for her on the lower platform. I saw myself in that young girl: adventurous with delayed nervous breaks!

The sun was relentless that mid morning as we climbed our way up the castle ruins. Before the climb, I didn’t see sheep grazing in the castle grounds but I spotted a lone donkey who kept so still under a shed. The red-roofed houses in the village presented a magical panorama amidst the mountains so green with its lush forest. On the side of the Danube and Morava rivers, the Maiden Tower draws your attention. I couldn’t take a good photo without overreaching and risking dropping my iPhone so I grabbed a photo from the Net. The tower is likewise called VIRGIN Tower and a legend goes that a bride jumped to her death from here when her groom was killed by her family who disapproved of the marriage. Sad 😔

The view from the top is certainly worth the climb. A sign says “Horny Hrad” (shut up – It only means Upper Castle 😂) which describes it as having been built in the late 13th century, only to be blown up in 1809 when French army led by Napoleon Bonaparte installed explosives to destroy it. The ruins still tell a compelling (and complicated) story of this castle fortress once held by monarchs from the Austrian and Hungarian kingdoms. It’s hard to even imagine that the border of the Iron Curtain once ran just in front of this Castle.


Photo sourced from the Net

The Maiden Tower. Photo Sourced from the Net

On a good day like we had, it would be nice to explore the hiking and biking trails. But our energy levels were down to a single bar and we were eager to ride back to the city for lunch and a bit of air-conditioned retail therapy. The hike would have been an ideal activity during spring when the farm animals are put to pasture and the flowers are in bloom. We didn’t bother checking the dining places near the castle but we’re told there are a few offering authentic Slovak cuisine. Just the same, Hrad Devin is one of the highlights of our trip to Bratislava . So glad we went even though the Museum exhibits were closed. 💕


This is my 4th time in Vienna and it’s only now that I’ve visited nearby Bratislava, Slovakia. I never thought it’s only an hour away from Vienna by bus on fare that costs a measly €5 (with snacks and bottled mineral water!). Of course you can travel in style and take that taxi ride between Vienna Airport and Bratislava for less than €100. Do note that it cost me €45 taxi fare from Vienna airport to my hotel in the city center. So, what gives? If you prefer small cities to big cities, spend more time in Bratislava where food, taxi, souvenirs, park, hotels and museum admissions are way cheaper. 👍

In our case, we rode the 2.5 hour train journey from Vienna to Budapest where we had a lovely time. From there and a few days after, we took another 2.5 hours from Budapest to Bratislava. Our train cabin was ideal for the 6 of us. My window seat was perfect for viewing the sunflower and corn fields, and tiny churches we passed. From the train station, it was just a short walk to our lovely Bratislava Loft Hotel which sits right above a popular brewery and located between the train station and the Old Town. The hotel offers a free mini bar (yes!) and a welcome drink at The Fabrika Gastropub below, which btw has a very good breakfast spread as well as a la carte meals. We were prepped for lunch while they got our rooms ready and we were happy with our first Slovak meal.

Soon after we deposited our bags in the room, we set off to meet our guide in the Old Town for our afternoon walking tour. It was another long walk (3 hours), but very informative & entertaining. We entered the Old Town through St. Michael’s Gate. Under the arched entrance is the equivalent of “Kilometro 0″ — technically the city center where distances are measured. Just before the gate is a small bridge adorned with love locks where one views the former moat below which has since been converted into a garden cum reading area. I promised myself I’d go back here on my last day with a mug of coffee and a book.

The Old Town is very compact and manageable. You can’t get lost here even if you tried. The lovely thing is there are small churches, historic buildings, fountains, tiny squares, museums, art galleries, an opera house, brass statues here and there, hemmed in by an assortment of pubs, gelato bars, coffee shops, and souvenir stores. There’s also a charming Danube Riverbank Promenade where more of the historic buildings and museums are located. You can’t get bored here. It’s really a small village, quaint and with so much character. And most everyone speaks English!

We were lucky to have blue skies and sunshine on our first 2 days here. On the third day it rained intermittently nearly the whole day. We made good time, led by our able guide whose name is as Slavic as can be – Voultjo? Not sure I’m spelling that right but this pony-tailed guide kept us hooked for 3 hours. He navigated us through the Old Town — the squares, St. Martin’s Church, old town hall, the “Gazer” statue, Opera House, the city walls, the viewpoint from where the UFO Bridge complemented the entire city view, all the way to the castle or Bratislava Hrad. He also gave us very good dining tips!

Just like our walking tour guide in Budapest, Voultjo warned us that his spiel maybe peppered with his political views. All’s well though, we can always do with a local’s opinionated views. We weaved around the quaint village (why are there so many Thai Massage Spas here?), making notes on some sites I’d like to revisit on my last solo (3rd and 4th) days in Bratislava before flying home. In particular, there’s the coronation church of Saint Martin and I spotted a few tiny churches too.

We didn’t get inside Bratislava Hrad but I was keen on going inside one of the Museums or Opera House on my last day. From outside, the castle grounds is really a huge modern park on a promontory from where one gets a 360 degree view of the Old and New Town. The UFO Bridge (it does look like an UFO) is in full view from here, and of course the same Danube River we saw in Vienna and Budapest.

Our guide led us back to where we started in the Old Town after 3 hours of good walking. Thumbs up for this guided walking tour. Being a Sunday, there were more locals and tourists around, longer lines for the gelato, more snooping on a chess game played by old men, there were services in the churches, and more people enjoying the al fresco dining places. We felt we’ve covered most attractions and felt eager to check out Voultjo’s food tips. More on that in the next blog. Watch this page!

Dining In Budapest


Goulash is their national dish. Langos is the national dessert? Maybe. But really, Budapest has so much more. I love soup but one can only take so much goulash. So we tried others. And we weren’t disappointed at all.

Warning: Too many food photos. 🙄

It’s my first time to try lecsó, a Hungarian vegetable soup. I call it soup but it’s really more like a stew of peppers, tomatoes, onions, and ground sweet and hot paprika. I couldn’t believe it’s a vegetable soup or stew so I searched the Internet for its ingredients. Turns out the onions and peppers are sautéed in lard and maybe even bacon fat! But, we maybe in luck. The tomatoes are best during the summer season in this corner of the world and our tastebuds confirmed it. Like goulash, lecsó gets a generous sprinkling of paprika. Unlike goulash, lecsó has no potatoes nor beef cubes. Between the 2, I’m now a fan of lecsó .

But it’s not the only soup we enjoyed. The restaurant in Hotel Zenit Budapest (Divin Porcello Ham Bar) where we stayed serves very good cabbage soup and ham, sausage and cheese platter. Plus they have a superb wine list! The first meal upon arrival here in Budapest got us all excited for dinner that same day. This time, we tried the oldest restaurant in Pest called Százéves which literally translates to “a hundred years”. Complete with classical music from these 4 Hungarian gentlemen.

We particularly liked our fish dish here. Grilled zander? Have not come across this fish, but the English menu describes it as pike-perch of the Eurasian variety. It is a fresh-water fish with a very delicate taste. Simply grilled, and plated with alfalfa sprout toppings on a bed of lettuce and grilled onions with shrimps, we all enjoyed this dish.

We ordered our 1st stuffed cabbage here. The first of 2, but we haven’t been lucky. The first “Koloszvar” stuffed cabbage was salty, the next one (in another restaurant) tasted bland. We likewise tried the Hungarian Goulash here. A sure favourite!

Our last dinner in Budapest wasn’t Hungarian. My friend found this Italian restaurant in Pest near the Danube which earned pretty good reviews. We had bruschetta, caprese salad, beef tartare, 3 kinds of pasta, pulpo and we had HUNGARIAN wine from Tokaj, Hungary. To finish this fine meal, we succumbed to the recommended lemon sorbet with prosecco and Absolut Vodka! First time I’ve tried this and I promise it won’t be the last. 🍸

We ate very well in Budapest. And that’s only on the Pest side just around/near our lovely hotel by the Danube River. I bet there’s also many interesting bistros in the quieter side of Buda. We likewise enjoyed Hungarian wine. If at all, the only disappointment was the lunch we had at the Great Market Hall. The second floor is lined with many food stalls where one claims a table after ordering “cafeteria style” from any of the stalls. I enjoyed my beer but every dish we had was bleh. Took no pictures. Sorry. Nonetheless, I’d still suggest a visit to the Great Market Hall if only for the beer and some sausages. You’d find it at the end of the pedestrian shopping street called Váci Utca, so it’s not really out of the way. Besides, it’s the biggest indoor market housed in a magnificent building and offers many souvenir items and Hungarian delicacies.

Jó Etvágyát! 🍽👌 (Errrr, I only meant “Bon Apetit” in Hungarian)


Hungary has heartbreaking stories to tell. And many stories are told in powerful symbols that are poignant reminders of a sad history. On the Pest side of the Danube, an evening stroll along the riverbank promenade is both refreshing and heartbreaking. The memorial is just a few meters south of the Parliament and consists of 60 pairs of shoes made of iron. Cast iron signs have the following text in English (also in Hebrew and Hungarian) : “To the memory of the victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross Militia Men in 1944-45. Erected 16 April 2005″.

I thought the victims were ALL Hungarian Jews. And that they were executed by Nazi Germans. I’m wrong on both counts. Many Hungarians were killed by fellow Hungarians and Germans. The Arrow Cross Party, who shared the same ideologies with the Nazis, took as many as 20,000 Jews from the Budapest Ghetto. It is claimed they were all executed at the banks of the Danube River. In February 1945, the Soviet forces “liberated” Budapest from the Germans. And that’s another sad story.

From Nazi Germany to Soviet Communism, Hungary suffered. Typically, I skip places where I feel negative vibes. But I was drawn to these symbols. The hole on the Hungarian flag hoisted over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A dove shedding a tear. Old photos from a not so distant past. The chilling story of the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. Just look at that flag above the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The hole is right where the Communist Coat of Arms used to be. It was cut out and this symbolism became the battlecry of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 against its Soviet-influenced, Soviet-backed government. There is a sad ending here where the uprising was crushed by Soviet tanks rolling into the narrow streets of Budapest. Power and might to crush a Revolution. About 2,500 Hungarian protesters died, and 200,000 fled as refugees. Many Hungarians consider this as the nation’s worst tragedy.

They’ve been through a lot, and these monuments and memorials reinforce that sad memory. No one forgets. 😔 One can’t help feeling impressed with the resiliency of these Hungarians.


Flanking the Danube River are Buda on the West and Pest on the East Bank. The “tale of 2 cities” merging into one has been subject of many discourses and inevitably comparisons are drawn. Our hotel is on the Pest side. This is where the Parliament is, best viewed from across the Danube in Castle Hill. A very handsome building which is only 3rd largest in the world.

Pest is flat, but bigger. Where Buda is more formal, even reserved, Pest is more vibrant. Nightlife is certainly livelier on the east bank of the Danube. It may not be “quiet and less crowded” as its hilly half, but this is where the action is. The coffee and bar scene here is tops and while relatively “new” and “young”, its bolder character gave way to many prominent edifices like the Parliament, Heroes Square, the “ruin bars”, the iconic St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and the many bronze statues scattered all around. But in my mind, nothing beats the eclectic bronze shoes lined at the edge of the Danube. The story goes that Hungarian Jews were told to take off their shoes, put whatever jewellery they have inside the shoes, and stand by the river edge. Then they were summarily executed and their bodies fell into the river as they took the shots from Budapest’s Arrow Cross Militia who shared the same Nazi ideology during World War II. The bronze shoes are poignant reminders of this dark period in Hungarian history.

The Central Market Hall is another iconic landmark in Pest. The market has a 2nd floor catering to tourists wishing to buy souvenirs and feast on Hungarian cuisine. There are many souvenir and handicraft for sale here, as well as food stalls where one can try Goulash, lecso, Hungarian smoked sausages, stuffed cabbage, meatballs, langos and many more. We’ve tried it here and it was forgettable if it weren’t our worst lunch. Well, it was a food court after all. But Pest is really teeming with nice shopping places, coffee bars and fine-dining restaurants. One only needs to do a little research. Thankfully, one of my friends made sure we ate very well here. 🍽

Michael Jackson fans would love it here. There is an MJ Memorial Tree in a tiny square corner just right across Kempinski Hotel where the late pop idol used to stay. The tree has assumed a Shrine of sorts with MJ photos plastered around the trunk. And Hungarian fans still gather here on MJ’s birthday, performing MJ’s popular dance moves. Nearby is the Hungarian Eye, much like the London Eye. It’s colossal but I feel it’s an eyesore amidst the many beautiful and historic buildings in the area.

Budapest has a number of popular thermal pools or baths, clearly something they must have picked up from the Romans and Turks. It was tempting to check out Széchenyi or Gellért if only to watch old men play chess while half-submerged in hot thermal waters. We passed on this one and chose to instead hear mass at St. Stephen’s , enjoy a good dinner then take an evening Danube cruise to see the Hungarian landmarks all lit up. We enjoyed both Buda and Pest. But when I do make a next visit, I’d likely try a hotel in Buda if only to feel its more sober night life.

Buda of Budapest


It used to be Buda, Pest and Old Buda. Buda and Pest separated by the River Danube, with the Old Town resting on the left bank which is Buda. Earliest settlers were Celts until the Romans occupied the present-Day Budapest in the first century B.C., annexing it as part of the Roman Empire. Then there was Attila, and the Huns ruled from the 5th century till the Magyar tribes arrived in the 9th century. By all accounts, the settlers and rulers lingered for centuries to affect Budapest’s way of life in many, many ways – art, culture, cuisine, architecture, language.

By the 10th century, the Hungarian Kingdom was established and the first king was St. Stephen who converted Hungary into Christianity. Soon, the French and Germans migrated here and then, the Mongolian invasion happened in the 12th century, thus destroying both cities. Through the centuries until Buda, Pest and Old Buda (Obuda) were joined in 1873, the city saw its transformation from Medieval Hungary to Renaissance Budapest to Turkish Budapest. And then the Hapsburgs came. Pest was soon to become the cultural and economic center of Hungary. But let’s talk about Buda first, and deal with Pest in my next blog. 😊

Buda Castle sits on Castle Hill with a perfect view of the Pest side. You can appreciate a night view of Buda riding a boat which glides slowly along the Blue Danube, or you can join a walking tour which requires stamina to last nearly 3 hours. Oh, there’s a funicular to climb up Castle Hill and visit the 3 major attractions on this side of the river. But we WALKED. 🏃‍♂️🏃‍♀️ And we crossed the Chain Bridge ON FOOT. 👣👣And we CLIMBED. 🚶‍♀️🚶‍♀️🚶‍♀️All the way to Buda Castle, 🏰🏰 Fisherman’s Bastion and St. Matthias Church 🕍🕍🕍 These 3 account for the best Buda attractions on the western bank of the Danube . All UNESCO Heritage Sites.

Its rich history doesn’t end here. The Austro-Hungarian Empire can claim much of what present-Day Budapest is. The Empire lasted only till the First World War. Then, during the Second World War, it cast its lot with Nazi Germany. The Germans seized the city and soon a dark period began for the country’s Hungarian Jews. There were political upheavals and once more, the nation in the 19th century transitioned from being a Hungarian Soviet Republic for a brief period, to being a Kingdom without a king.

Castle Hill looks more “imperial” than its better-half on the right bank. Where Pest is flat, Buda is hilly. The first bridge connecting the 2 was built only in 1848. The other bridges look nothing less and maybe more interesting for those eager for a view of the thermal pools. Among its attractions, I like Fisherman’s Bastion with its fairy tale windows offering the best views of Pest. I am also intrigued by St. Matthias Church which was the venue for the coronation of the last 2 Hungarian Hapsburg monarchs : Frank Joseph in 1867 and King Charles IV in 1916. Earlier destroyed by the Mongols, it was reconstructed, restored and survived wars to what it is today. Side by side, the Saint Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion are 2 sites not to be missed. Or for that matter, a visit to Budapest is a must-see destination. One falls in love with this city. Buda or Pest side, both are lovely. On foot or gliding on a riverboat, both sites are magical.