Budapest was never in my travel itinerary. It always sounded so far away although it is only less than 2 hours from Amsterdam where I usually take all my flights outside The Netherlands. To be exact, it only takes one hour and 55 minutes direct flight with KLM Royal Dutch airlines flag carrier airlines of The Netherlands.
Years ago when editing Hotel & Travel magazine in Bangkok, I sent my editorial assistant to a press conference promoting Budapest. He brought me a picture of the imposing Hungarian Parliament building standing majestically along the river Danube, and a picture of Malev Hungarian Airlines flying smoothly on air on a backdrop of blue skies and a beautiful layer of cotton candy-like white clouds. That was about 19 years ago and I still keep my old filo fax where I have written down all the names of my editorial team and the many notes for each month’s issue. Malev Airlines no longer exist having ceased operations in 2012, but the Hungarian Parliament building is still there today, as majestic as the picture given to me, and I wish I know where Steven is right now so I can tell him I was just in Budapest and I have seen the river Danube and the magnificent parliament building in the picture he brought me.
I like Budapest. Well, not all of it, but most of it. And I like being at the Fisherman’s Bastion up on the hilly Buda Castle District where the view of the river Danube and the boats plying back and forth, the old bridges and old buildings is endless.
The most photographed Szechenyi Lanchid, commonly known as the Chain Bridge takes centre stage and why not, it stands with grace and pride especially at night when it is illuminated, and the waters below crash on its strong walls and unmoved by the currents brought about by boats loaded with revelers and their blaring music. The bridge was named after its major construction supporter, Count Istvan Szechenyi, a noble and former Minister of Public Works and Transport, revered as one of Hungary’s greatest statesmen.
Chain Bridge was designed by the English civil engineer William Tierney Clark, and it is a replica in larger scale of the Marlow Bridge over the River Thames in England built roughly seventeen years earlier. It was the first permanent bridge constructed to connect the two cities of Pest and Buda in Hungary and it opened in 1849, just after the Hungarian Revolution in 1848. At that time, it was regarded as one of the modern world’s engineering wonders. And by comparison, I find it more charming than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco where my good friend Grace have taken us twice on our US visits, although of course, that’s a different experience. I have walked on the Chain Bridge from Buda to Pest and back, and we have driven through it in a taxi on our way to the grand Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace.
At the Fisherman’s Bastion, tourists keep coming and when you have the opportunity to stand in front of everybody to view the beautiful sight ahead of you, steady your hands on your camera and take as many photos as you can before a head pops up to take your front view position. Clicking away is fun but most of all, take time to see the beauty of the place with your naked eyes. The view is surely wider than your viewfinder. I will come back to see more of the place. After all, it’s only an hour and 55 minutes away!