travels to Hungary with Ed
We did not have enough time to explore Gyor, except that I can say that it seemed a very pleasant city. It stands at the junction of the Danube, Rábca and Rába rivers. Although it is a major industrial centre, there is no hint of this in the city centre which has a pleasant pedestrianised street, and areas that are landscaped. The Town Hall is one of many fine buildings in the city. On the top of Chapter Hill is the cathedral and the Bishop's Palace. It is a good motorway trip from Gyor to Budapest.
Like Prague, Budapest has a castle across the river from the main (modern) part of the city. In fact, the castle is in Buda, and across the Danube is Pest; the building of bridges led to their merging as Budapest (better than 'Pestabud', I suppose). We stopped on the heights of Castle Hill first, and wandered round the sights, including the Matthias Church. Nearby is the Fishermen's Bastion, a strange, turreted building teetering on the brink, one of the landmarks from the river below; it gained its name from the fishermen's town below, and is merely a folly: but one with tremendous views. This is the area for open-air cafés, souvenir hawkers and, above all, tourists! The picture shows their colourful answer to a busker: complete with dancing children, when I passed by! When visiting this area, it is worth knowing that many places close in Buda in the late afternoon - leaving the bustle to Pest.
There is also a furnicular up the hill from near the river, providing an easy uplift to the entrance of the Royal Palace: now a collection of museums, galleries - including the Hungarian National Gallery - and courtyards. There are remnants of German defences up here, and there are even subterranean passages to explore, should you be so-minded; I was so-minded, but, short of time, explored a coffee and Danish pastry instead. There was time, however, for photo opportunities of the superb Danube views.
The coach took us over a few of the Danube's bridges in an initial tour - I think the driver thought we were a bridge convention - including Elizabeth Bridge and the much-photographed Chain Bridge. The latter was the first bridge to be built across the Danube in the city, surprisingly as late as 1849; before that Buda and Pest were linked only by boats and temporary pontoon bridges. The coach then dropped up at a place were all the coaches drop people: a place where the police don't like them to drop people. Everyone has to leap off quick-smart! Then we descended a subway beneath a main road to the bridge to enter the main shopping street. Gypsies begged in this tunnel with poor children huddled on their laps to curry sympathy; I had it, but not for the mothers, rather for the poor children forced to lie, day after day, looking in such a pathetic state. We were much happier bartering for a lace tablecloth from a pretty gypsy girl who, with cut-throat expressions finally signified that we had reached an acceptable target.
McDonalds lay straight ahead - along with cheap ice cream stalls, clothes, and many modern shops. The girls were dressed in minis, and looked very English. In fact, because we could have been in any city in England, I was a touch disappointed. The miles to get there just didn't seem worth it. (Prague, for example, has much more character.) Having read a travel article in Britain the week before, about how the poor Trebant cars cough and splutter around the city, I also felt cheated that they were hard to spot. It was easier to spot a Mercedes! But I did take a photo of a Trebant eventually: but only to prove they still exist!
Then we took a sight-seeing cruise on the Danube. Yes, I can confirm it too: it was not blue! Quite pleasant, although we had to take our own chairs up from the dining room to the upper deck it we wanted to sit. Principal memories were of the dominant Palace of Buda and the Fishermen's Bastion on the Buda bank, not looking nearly as high they had seemed to be when we were up there looking down, and the magnificent Houses of Parliament on the Pest bank: almost like a glorious cathedral. It was all a bit like a Seine trip - or a view across the Grande Canal at Venice. Frankly, I'd sooner have been on the Seine - or even better, in Venice!
We were picked up again at the same difficult spot, in a busy square,
and during the brief pause for people to leap aboard, a driver tried
wrapping his already much battered car around the back of the coach.
Whether he was just trying to straighten it out, or claim on his insurance
for a new vehicle, I'm not sure, but the driver soon straightened
him out, and apart from a minor bruise, our coach continued unscathed.