Exploring Castle Hill in Budapest
“Look, there’s a funicular!”
I can always count on Andy to get excited about funiculars, and Budapest was no exception. So on our first full day in the city, we left our apartment late in the morning to go find the funicular that goes to the top of Castle Hill. We were staying on the Pest side of the city, and Castle Hill is across the Danube River on the Buda side, so we found the Chain Bridge, the oldest bridge to connect the two sides, and started wandering around in the heat.
I mention the heat because we should really know better by now. We were traveling in mid-July, so clearly high temperatures could be expected. But instead of working around this by going earlier or later in the day, we had a lazy breakfast and left around 11am. By the time we made our way to the other side of the bridge, it was almost noon and the sun was beating down on us. This led to the purchase of overpriced and not-so-tasty lemonade being sold at the base of the funicular, conveniently situated next to the ticket line. Once we finally got up top, we were starving and in need of lunch.
The restaurant we picked for lunch had some spectacular views of the river and the Pest side of the city. Also, our choice to sit at a table with an umbrella instead of out in the sun, which the staff seemed to think was odd, saved us from the downpour that hit briefly in the middle of our meal.
Finally, we started exploring the area. We started with Buda Castle, or the Royal Palace, taking pictures of the castle itself, the courtyards adorned with flowers and statues of men on horses, and eventually moved on to Mattias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. All the while taking breaks to sit in the shade, gulp down water, and try not to pass out because we were up on a hill while the sun was at its highest point of the day.
Eventually the sun wore us down, and we headed back to the apartment. We were so exhausted, we stayed in for dinner and watched Germany win the World Cup from the apartment instead of going out. It was a nice day with some gorgeous scenery, but it also reminded us to pay more attention to the weather and time of day when we’re going to be outside for hours. The rest of the week went a bit better because of this reminder.
Funicular tickets cost 1100Ft (US$4.70) one way per adult, or 1700Ft (US$7.30) round trip per adult. You can also take public transportation or walk up the hill.
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August 7, 2014 @ 10:12 AM
Budapest appears to be such a beautiful city. It’s sad really. The human rights situation there is awful. The right wing government there in the last few years changed the constitution to one that give the executive near absolute power, squashing the media and civil society. Just a quick perusal on the Human Rights Watch site under the search term “Hungary” http://www.hrw.org/search/apachesolr_search/hungary gives you a fair idea of what the people are facing there. Is there ever a case for boycotting travel to a country based on how the government there treats it’s people? I suppose each of one us has a different view on that question.
But getting back to the post you’ve just written. I really love the furnicular. More cities should have them and although it looks like a bit of a tourist trap when you compare the ticket prices to what the locals would pay for alternative methods of transport up the hill, it’s a trap that I think I’d love falling for. Speaking of tourist traps, on local Australian television, they frequently advertise river cruises down the Danube river. The starting price? Five figures so-called “all inclusive”. The ultimate tourist trap when I come to think of it. I think the company is AAT Kings who is doing the cruises, but don’t quote me on that.
As for Germany winning the World Cup, it was a fait accompli once Brazil bowed out. Germany, drawing upon it’s strong Bundesliga teams was just far too good for all the teams they faced.
August 8, 2014 @ 9:58 AM
I don’t actually know anything about the political situation in Hungary, though I wouldn’t boycott so easily. There are countries, like North Korea, that I wouldn’t go to because of what the government does and how they treat their citizens, but that’s much different from Hungary. We saw a memorial of sorts in a square one evening honoring people who had been killed during the Holocaust. The signs that were displayed in English talked about how the government wanted to hide the fact that the Hungarian government of that time had any involvement, which they did. They seem to be at a bit of a stand-still, but the memorial and all the signs talking about it are still there. I’m hoping to write more about it later. It at least shows that people are still voicing their thoughts.
Yes, the funicular is a bit of a rip off, but kind of fun if you like them, which Andy does. Five figures for a cruise on the Danube? Even if that includes your flight from Australia, that sounds insane. The river cruises do sound interesting, but I think you could book your own flight and find a company based here that does the cruises and the whole thing would be cheaper. Much cheaper. Our friends http://one-giant-step.com just did a cruise from Passau, Germany to Vienna and back that included cycling. So they slept on the river boat and cycled during the day, though they could choose to stay on the boat. Sounded like a fun trip.
August 8, 2014 @ 1:38 PM
The cruises they advertise for Europe on the TV here are aimed primarily at retirees and are inclusive of flights from Australia. I’ve never done a cruise in my life and through reading travel blogs I already know that they sting you big time on these things. The worst part of watching these ads is having to listen to these retirees bang on for 30 seconds about how much value they believed they got for their trip. Like you said you could buy your own air tickets and perhaps get a last minute cruise deal when the weather just starts to warm up in Europe and laugh all the way to the bank with the savings.
As for the political situation in Hungary, it’s been said in certain human rights circles that Hungary has the worst human rights record of any country in the EU. That said it’s still better than in Russia under Putin, China and Thailand under the junta, just to name three countries that nobody seems to have had issues visiting in the past.
I’ll check out your friend’s page on the river cruises. I think it would make an interesting read. Thank you for the link 🙂
August 8, 2014 @ 2:45 PM
5 figures still seems crazy. The Antarctica cruise I did a few years ago was US$4600 or so I think. Even with flights and hotels before and after and spending money, I think I spent US$7500 for the whole 3 week trip. A river cruise shouldn’t cost more than an Antarctica cruise. They’re ripping off a lot of people on that one.
I have a friend here in Freiburg who is from Hungary, I’ll have to ask her more about it sometime.
August 9, 2014 @ 1:12 AM
I’ve looked into it a little bit further. The actual company doing them is called AP Touring not what I said earlier. They offer a 15 day river cruise tour all inclusive from Amsterdam to Budapest and the solo traveler prices range from $11,245 to $13,020. The twin share prices are around the $8,000 mark per person, still hyper expensive in my opinion. Flights to and from Europe back to Australia are less than $1,500 return and if you bought tickets from another albeit Europe based company, you’d save heaps. No wonder they were putting their ads on TV like they were going out of fashion. At these prices, they can afford to.
August 9, 2014 @ 3:09 PM
August 7, 2014 @ 10:23 AM
Great pictures as usual, Ali. I just finished processing my own Budapest photos from June, but I am massively hugely behind on posting.
How did you like the food in Budapest?
August 8, 2014 @ 9:59 AM
Thanks Steven! I still haven’t posted about my trip to Munich in May, happens to all of us. The food in Budapest was really good, though a week wasn’t enough time to work, sightsee, and try all the food we wanted to! We did take a fun food tour, which I’ll be posting about on Monday.
August 7, 2014 @ 8:33 PM
Loved exploring Castle Hill while I was in Budapest. I’m hoping to see in the new year in the city.
August 8, 2014 @ 10:00 AM
Sounds like a fun place to be for New Years! Thanks Steve!
Peter Korchnak @ Where Is Your Toothbrush?
August 9, 2014 @ 1:48 AM
As much time as I’ve spent in Budapest over the years (lived there during graduate school studies, visit as much as I can), seeing photos from the city makes my day. Thanks for sharing!
August 9, 2014 @ 3:08 PM
Thanks Peter! Budapest is a great city, that’s wonderful you’ve spent so much time there!