Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Visit to Buda Castle and the wrap up over Danube

I woke up a bit sad in the morning as today was the last day of the 10 day long vacation across 4 European cities. Thankfully today was also the day with 2 treats in one day - first was the visit to one of the baths and second was a cruise over Danube.

Budapest has several nicknames, like the Paris of East or the Pearl of the Danube, and also the City of Spas. Indeed, there are so many natural warm spring waters under the city (imagine a cauldron topped with some layers) that Budapest has had several great thermal baths for many centuries. The Turkish baths along the river Danube are still functional and much favored. 

Budapest Baths are one of the top reasons Budapest is visited by hundreds of thousands of travelers. Szechenyi Baths alone is visited by over a million bathers per year, many of whom are from abroad. Each bath in Budapest gives a special experience, unlike the others, so if you can, visit more than one of the Budapest Baths. 

The Budapest card allowed us free entry to Lukacs Baths, so we decided to visit the same. It took us about 20 minutes to get there and we started with the swimming pool. The Lukács Thermal Bath has eight pools and the outdoor ones are surrounded by a small park. There are 2 swimming pools at varying temperatures of 22 degrees C and 26 degrees C. We didn't know the same and dived right into the bigger one which was at 22 C. It initially felt a bit cold given the hot weather but soon turned out to be amazing  fun. 

After about 30 minutes in the pool we proceed to the thermal baths. The thermal section offers four pools with 24-40 C water temperature. We tried and enjoyed them all. The hotter the bath, the lesser the time one is expected to spend there. 

After spending about 20 minutes across the thermal baths, we proceeded to the thermal pool where water temperature is about 32 C. This bath was more fun, with pressure nozzles for various kinds of aquatic massages, a sitting area and a section with water current where if you put your feet up, the current would carry you anti clockwise around the sitting area. 

We had loads of fun and didn't want to leave the baths, but Buda Castle was still left on our list, so reluctantly we came back to hotel, changed and headed for the Castle. 

While it was hot, the breeze from the river helped a bit. After we crossed the chain bridge, we found a long queue for the Funicular, so we decided to walk up to the Castle was a gentle slope and didn't feel too hard on the knees or heart.

One going up and one going down
Funicular to Buda Castle

Castle Complex

The weather was getting hotter by the minute, so we decided to skip the big complex and entered the Hungarian National Gallery. While we paid for the audio guide, we didn't realise that we needed to pay a fee to click pictures inside the Gallery. So again, I have no pictures of this museum.

The Hungarian National Gallery occupies the central wing of the palace, below the imposing dome. The museum's collection of Hungarian art was originally displayed in the Hungarian National Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts. We were more than impressed by the work of Hungarian artists and a bit embarrassed that we knew so few of them. The audio guide came in pretty handy here and helped us get a better hang of various artists and their displayed work.

One of the museum's highlights is its collection of sculptures and paintings from the nineteenth century, when Hungarian artists started to gain international recognition. There are several masterpieces here including 'Women of Eger', a work from the Romanticist painter Bertalan Székely, 'The Recapture of Buda Castle' by Gyula Benczúr, and 'The Last Day of a Condemned Man' by Mihály Munkácsy. Also don't miss the works of Tivadar Kosztka Csontváry, whose expressionist style was ahead of its time.

We spent a few hours at the Gallery and as we had decided earlier, skipped the rest of complex due to the heat and headed back to hotel for some rest and food. The idea was to rest up and freshen up a bit for our last treat of the vacation - a night cruise over Danube.

While our original cruise time was about 8:00 pm, we were advised by our friends to take a later one. As luck would have it, it was pouring at the time we were to leave for the cruise. So we called ahead and requested for a reschedule which they graciously allowed. The Budapest card allowed 20% discount on this cruise, and that's how we chose this provider. You can check it online at

The cruise ship was very comfortable, closed on the top with windows on the sides for viewing. The cruise offers an audio guide for one to recognize the monuments and landmarks. I, honestly, can't capture this wonderful experience in words, so I will let the pictures below do the talking:

Buda Castle

Gellert Hotel and few other buildings on Buda side

Liberty Bridge

forgot what it was :(
House of Parliament

Margaret Bridge

Chain Bridge
Buda Castle - from another angle

The cruise turned out to be a perfect ending to our sojourn leaving me happy and content even though my vacation had come to its end!

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