View on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania last February.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ottawa, Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Reuniting with Max in Germany on October 1st.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ruth has a new friend!

Budapest Tourism supplied us with two of their 72 hour Budapest Cards to try out so that we could review the services offered with the card, and to enable us to see as much as possible in the short time we have in Budapest.

One of the biggest benefits of the card is that you have unlimited use of the public transportation system. Another, is that you get two free walking on the Buda side of the Danube River, and one on the Pest side. We had planned on going to the Buda walking tour yesterday morning at 10:30am, but we didn't get up early enough and we would have been rushed to get to the start on time. So we changed our plans and we'll do that Friday morning...with an earlier start to the day!

So instead, we started off with the short walk over to St. Stephen's Basilica. One of the reasons we chose the Casati Budapest Hotel is that it is so close to everything in the central area.

St. Stephen's Basilica.

The front view.

This huge church is not really that old. It was only completed in 1905, after 54 years of construction, which included demolition of the nearly completed building when the central dome collapsed in 1868 due to poor workmanship.

Very ornate interior!

It is free to enter the church, but they are very aggressive with trying to get you to make a 250 forint ($1.12) "donation". It's not a donation if you have to pay it! I know it's only $1.12, but it's the point. Figure that probably more than 1,000 people per day are going through this church. I know, they have maintenance costs, but I was a little offended by the doorman's demeanor. They do charge a set fee to take the elevator or stairs to the top of the dome for a view of the city. We may do that if we have time another day. They also have a special exhibit of St. Stephen's mummified hand. Long story behind this body part, but where they have the hand displayed, they have a lighting system that only comes on when you make another "donation". Seemed like a bit of a sideshow attraction to me, but I guess it's all about the money.

From there, we decided to walk down Andrassy Way, a long boulevard that runs down to Heroe's Square and the city park where the Zoo is.

Part way along, we stopped in at Alexandra's Bookshop. We had walked by here before, and noticed that it looks like a Chapters bookstore but we didn't go in. Then reader Lyn told us about the cafe inside, so we stopped in to have a look. Sure enough, there's a beautiful room housing the cafe...

So there's a modern bookstore in the front, but when you wander to the back of the building there's this!

Further on down the boulevard, we stopped in at the Kiado Kocsma restaurant and had a look at the menu. This is another recommendation from reader Lyn so we wanted to check it out on our way through. Decent prices, and an interesting looking place. Decided we would return for dinner!

Then we stopped in at the tearoom at the Asian gold museum. Decided against having tea, and decided against the museum as well. But it is a nice looking tea room!

The outdoor part of the tearoom.

3 kms (1.8 miles) from where we started, we arrived at Heroes Square and the Millennium Monument.

Built in the year 1900.

Some neat statues on the monument.

From there it was only a short walk to the Budapest Zoo. We've already been to the Mexico City Zoo and the Bristol Zoo this year, so we wouldn't have normally gone to another zoo but admission was included with the Budapest Card so we figured we'd go in for a quick wander around since we were in the area. We stayed longer than expected though. It's certainly not one of the best zoos we've ever been to, but it did have some highlights. They have probably the best display of snakes we've ever seen. Plus we did have a couple of memorable moments with some of the animals that we saw so that made it more enjoyable. And for a small zoo, it seemed to go on forever! But some of the displays are dated. Kind of felt sorry for a few of the animals who's enclosures seemed a bit small.

This meerkat  was a real character!

Giraffes sure are funny looking animals!

This is the shortest, thickest looking snake we've ever seen. He sure was strange looking. Called a Gaboon Viper. One of the most venomous snakes in the world. Fortunately, bites are very rare "due to the docile and lazy nature of this snake".

Camels are funny looking too!

This guy took a liking to Ruth, and he sure enjoyed having his nose scratched! Ruth has a new friend!

We took the metro underground (subway) back to the hotel and relaxed for a bit before supper. The metro is easy to use, and very efficient. Gotta love the subway for getting around a big city. Then we walked over to the Kiado Kocsma restaurant and had dinner. A little more expensive than we have paid recently, at 5,400 forints ($24.30) including tip. But it was a really good meal and included two glasses of white wine. I had the pesto pork cutlet with grilled goat cheese and rice, and Ruth had the roast duck breast with sun dried tomato, rice, and salad. 

View of the Kiado Kocsma restaurant from where we were sitting on the upper level.

After dinner, we walked down to the waterfront and took the tram along to the Margaret Bridge. Walked across the bridge to get another night photo, then we were going to take the tram back but we ended up walking the entire way back along the river. It was another beautiful evening.

Can't get enough of these "Budapest at night" shots!

Lots of people out just sitting by the river watching the world go by.


  1. Another fun day, always something to see. Gotta love the free stuff too.

    1. There is definitely lots to see, just by walking around and enjoying the sights.

  2. I remember Hero's Square. It rained the whole time we were there. You had better luck it seems.

  3. I love the fact that you guys can go out walking around at night. It's beautiful.

  4. I wonder if there are "tourist bureaus" in the US handing out cards with free things? If so, I've never seen them. You get an A for whatever research led you to that.

    I think Ruth's new friend is quite handsome although I'm an anti zoo type.

    Love those night shots. Simply gorgeous!!

    1. Most cities have tourist information places, same as tourists bureaus but I don't think they will hand out cards for free. Many cities have cities cards that will offer special offers for several tourist attractions for a special price and some may even include public transportation with them.

  5. Basilica: not just the excessive demand for donations which are irritating, but the tickets for organ concerts are also horrendously expensive. But suppose it is a trend in the catholic churches.
    Enjoy your last day and bon voyage. Really interesting blog to read and hope you return to Hungary. There is a wine festival on the 12th September which would be too soon. By the way, what camera are you using, I need to upgrade mine.

    1. We have really enjoyed Budapest and it's such a shame that we will miss the wine festival. We saw them setting up the booths for the festival at Buda Castle. I am sure that we will return as we would definitely like to have more time to explore the full country of Hungary as well as see some of the sights of Budapest that we just didn't have time to see.

  6. Looks like you are touring my kind of place. The dinner sounds like it was really good!

    A bit morbid, but I would have liked to see "the hand". I'm checking to see if it is on the internet.

    Have fun!

    1. I am sure that you will find it on the internet Chris. It is pretty famous. We didn't see the hand itself as we weren't going to pay the extra "donation" to have the light turn on so that you could see the hand.

  7. Kevins sister ElaineSeptember 7, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    You wouldn't see a huge image of someone smoking on a restaurant wall in Canada! Is smoking allowed in restaurants there?

    1. Funny you say that because Kevin and I said the same thing to each other.

  8. Wow, the memories you are making and such stunning architecture!

  9. Oh such exciting and beautiful points of interest in Budapest. Love your pictures and the night shots are excellent. Would be fun to sit by the waters edge at there at night.


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