I must’ve walked for kilometres today – I’ve had a really full second day in Budapest as I had to schedule in a visit to the Embassy to arrange my Emergency Passport. They were only open after 2pm today, so I could squeeze in an attraction or two before I made my way to Királyhágó ter again.
I had breakfast at the hotel – two slices of bread and a tub of yoghurt. I then quickly went to the nearest photo studio to arrange for two passport photos for my Emergency Passport. After waiting for ten minutes, my photos were ready – it was a bit funny seeing the photos as my pose is similar to the pose generally used in the yester years. Even though I still look straight at the camera, there is a slight face and body angle. Don’t get me wrong, the camera was modern, the studio is comparable to that in any cities, it’s just the pose! Haha. If the photo’s in black and white or sepia, it wouldn’t have looked out of place in the 50’s!
After I got the photos, I took the Metro from the nearest station, Kálvin tér because I wanted to see the Heroes’ Square. I’m getting used to the Metro system in Budapest – having had to take it from the first day so I could go to the Australian Embassy meant that I had to immerse myself in the public transport. After transferring from the Blue Line to the Yellow Line in Deák tér, I stopped at Hősök tere and walked right to the Heroes’ Square. The square is huge! The statues of the heroes circling the big Millenium Monument in the middle are impressive. It was pretty hot today as well so I didn’t hang around for too long. I stopped by the Palace of Art shop quickly to get some postcards and then walked along the leafy Andrássy út towards Oktogon. The House of Terrors was my next stop. The building at 60 Andrássy út used to be the site for torture during Nazi occupation as well as during the communist regime. The music and the atmosphere within the building created such an emotional impact that you felt the oppression as you moved from one room to the next. When you entered the building, you hear the account of a local man who lamented the loss of sixteen year old kids who were hanged because of their ‘counter-revolutionary’ activities. Visit the House of Terrors when you are in Budapest to get a real feeling of what life used to be under its communist history. Looking at the traffic outside and the amount of commercialism, as I mentioned in my previous blog entry, Budapest feels like any other western European city, except for the weird language. So, when you learn and see its dark history, you get a glimpse of what life was like before democracy was established.
After the House of Terrors, I quickly made my way to the Embassy, where I had to wait for an hour before my passport was issued. They were very helpful and very efficient, and my Emergency Passport was issued without too much drama. Thank God I brought along my Learners’ Drivers Licence as well as my Medicare card on this journey! The 21,900 Hungarian forints that I had to pay is the price of my carelessness …
Since I was already at the Buda end of the city, I took the Metro down to Batthyány ter again so I can visit the other attractions there such as Mátyás Church, Fishermen’s Bastion (a good spot to take pictures of the Parliament House) and other parts of the historic Buda area (I only had time to walk outside the Royal Palace as it was already closing when I was there – the Royal Palace building is now used to house the National Gallery among others). Buda is hillier than Pest and to reach the tourist attractions, you either take the funicular up the hills, or climbed the stairs through various access points. I climbed up and took the funicular down so I had a good exercise this afternoon!
After another walk along the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, I took the Metro again to Hősök tere – according to a local source, Paprika Etterem is a good place for a real Hungarian dishes. It’s located in Dózsa György út 72 – in the corner of Dózsa György út and Peterdy út. Strangely eating alone this time didn’t seem as intimidating as it was when I did my Baltic tour in 2006. For appetiser, I ordered some kind of pancake with chicken and mushroom filling doused with some cheesy cream sauce (Pulykabatyu sajtmártással). It was filling already – so when the main course came, sirloin goulash with dumplings (Bélszíngulyás galuskával), I almost dreaded having to eat it. Hahaha. I finished the goulash and half of the dumplings as I was really full. The restaurant’s recommended if you are around in Budapest and want a decent food, that is not too expensive and will fill you to the brim. Haha.
By this time I was full and very tired, so I walked back to the Metro station and headed back home, complete with another stroll along the Vaci utca. I can’t stay away from shopping street, even if I didn’t buy anything! 😀