Tag Archives: #Hungary

Budapest by the Danube

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Shoes by the Danube with the Chain Bridge in the Background

My feet were cold for my canvas shoes and layers of cotton socks felt porous like a sieve. I had forgotten to pack my cap for the trip, so my ears ached. I brisk walked past the Chain Bridge hurriedly hoping hopelessly that my pace would warm me up. It was not an ideal pre-sunrise walk, yet I had braved the December river breeze and kept walking towards the Shoes by the Danube Bank installation.
The evening before, my stroll from Pest towards the Buda hill had been possible because of the chain bridge, but in 1820, Count István Széchenyi was unable to cross the river to attend his father’s funeral. The Count’s desperation triggered his plan of connecting the two towns with Hungary’s first permanent bridge that opened in 1849. And twenty-four years later, the towns merged to form Budapest.

20161230_14223720161230_141734The bridge is iconic for not only it united east and west but also it cut across the class barrier; everyone including nobility was once charged a toll to use it. So, it was not surprising that numerous anecdotes have sprung up. For instance, the lions of the bridge are said to have no tongue. The architect jumped off the bridge in shame because of the flawed beasts hence becoming the first person to jump from the bridge. Then some say that the tunnel at the end of the bridge in Adam Clarke square which is of the same length as that of the bridge was to house the chain bridge during rains.

 

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The Buda castle stands on the castle hill and can be reached by three options: firstly, like an average tourist who takes a minute and a half long funicular ride, for which, the queueing time for the tickets was longer than the journey itself. Secondly, as an impatient tourist who falls in the tourist trap of the Bangladeshi tour operators and pays 4 Euros for a few minutes of shuttle ride. Thirdly as a regular local, who scaled the slope for free. My choice was obvious.
The uphill pathway was dotted with shortcuts, yet I was nearly breathless at the top of the hill also called Danube terrace; partly because of the trek but mainly for the view from the terrace. The Danube terrace provides a clear view of the river and the Pest: the parliament house, St. Stephen Basilica, and much more. Later in the evening, I visited the Christmas market in St. Stephen Square ( read here- https://biswadarshan.com/2017/01/21/markets-in-budapest/ )

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Markets in Budapest

Draft of citrus and cloves slapped my cold-numbed face; mulled wine and punch simmered in drum-like vats in one of the stalls at a Christmas market in Budapest. It was a week after the 25th, yet could there be a better break after a day’s walk in sub-zero temperatures?
Moments ago, we had been welcomed by a plump bronze policeman with belly and mustache polished by continual meddling hands of lens-happy tourists. From there, arcs of lights had led us to the St. Stephen’s Basilica Square that sparkled like jewels studded garish wonderland.
20161230_162553At the entry of Saint Stepen Square, a sign read ‘Langosh’ and my friend’s words repeated in my mind, ‘It is just like bhatura,’ she had said. But the bread’s similarity with deep fried Indian bread ended there, for sour cream and cheese were the recommended traditional Hungarian toppings. Being a nonconformist, I also had some chicken and bell peppers on top of it and paid thrice more than what it cost in a non-touristic area.

In the market, many stalls sold pork knuckles, stuffed cabbage, roast turkey, grilled chicken, goulash, chimney bread, roasted chestnuts and many more delicacies. Besides food stands, some bars offered mulled wine and other drinks. Many booths sold souvenirs like Christmas cribs, paintings, packs of paprika, pepper paste and other things. Continue reading