This morning we rose and ate breakfast in the ship restaurant. Most of the people had left very early this morning, so the crew had blocked off half of the restaurant, and the rest of us crowded into the other half. It was sad for us to be leaving the ship, but Bill and I were excited that we had planned to stay in Budapest on our own for three more nights. Bill G. was the only other person in our group to be staying on, so we made plans with him to meet on Thursday for lunch somewhere in Pest.
We got all of our luggage together, said goodbye to our housekeeper, Sam, and some of the other crew members, and stepped outside to find our taxi waiting for us. The cab driver took us over the bridge and up to Buda to the Hilton Budapest in the Castle District. We were surprised to find that it was located right beside the Matthias Church, which we had seen yesterday during our tour!
We got a lovely room which overlooked Fishermen’s Bastion, the Danube, the Parliament Building, and other wonderful sites. Here are the views from our window.
One of the first things we did was ask the concierge where there were some good nearby restaurants, and he gave us a list. So we went outside to explore. While on the tour yesterday, we had seen this sign advertising Labirintus, an elaborate cave system underneath Buda’s Castle District, so we decided to go have a look.
There was no guided tour, so after we went underground and bought our tickets, we walked around on our own, trying not to get lost.
It was interesting and a little bit scary, especially when we went down into the deepest area of the cave and there was thick fog everywhere. It was hard enough to see where we were going, but there were lights along the walls and exhibitions here and there. We saw the cell where Dracula had been imprisoned by King Matthias. You can find out more about Labirintus and see more photos here: http://labirintus.eu/en/
After that, we walked northwest to the end of the street and up to the Military History Museum (Hadtörteneti Múzeum).
The museum was established in 1918, and it is now housed in a former military barracks built in the 1930s. The building was very large, with at least three or four floors. “The exhibits include weapons from the pre-Ottoman era and as far back as the Hungarian war history of the Middle Ages. There are 30,000 military uniforms, 50,000 weapons, 5,000 flags, documents, maps, military themed art work, coins, models, medals, tools and historic photos,” according to the web site visitacity.com. It was very interesting but also quite tiring, so we didn’t see every single exhibit. We exited the west door, where we could look out over the western area of Buda.
By this time, it was mid-afternoon, and we were getting hungry for lunch. So, as we were walking back toward the hotel, we perused our list of good restaurants in the area that the concierge had given us. Soon we came upon Pest-Buda Bistro, which had a welcoming red awning out front. We went inside and ordered some Hungarian wine. The place was full of locals, so we knew it probably had pretty good food. I ordered Hungarian goulash, and it was the best goulash I have ever had in my life! They served it in small kettles to keep it warm while you ladled out whatever size portion you wanted. Bill had ordered another kind of soup, but only a small portion, and a salad. After he saw what my goulash looked like, he was really jealous! The homemade bread was also delicious.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of the restaurant, so you can go to this web site if you would like to see the interior and some of the dishes they serve (be sure to click on the Gallery): http://www.pestbudabistro.hu/
By then we were ready to go back to the hotel and relax a bit. We were so full from lunch that we didn’t even need to go out for dinner, so we walked around Fishermen’s Bastion behind our hotel in the evening. There was a small bar in the top of the tower, so we went in there for some Glühwein (mulled wine, like we had back in Rossatz, Austria) to top off another wonderful day in Budapest.