Stunning Inside and Outside: The Hungarian Parliament Building

I think the Hungarian Parliament building puts most others to shame. You have to see it to believe it, I guess. It’ll leave you speechless.

I highly recommend taking a guided tour of the building. The entrance fee was worth every Forint.  

The English ones were fully booked out when we arrived, so we took the guided German tour in the morning.

It was nice not being in a huge crowd. All the guides didn’t use a mic so we were glad that our group only consisted of five people.

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For more information about the building, read this.

Walking Through the Castle District of Budapest

The Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion I posted about last time are pictured on top left-side of this map. The areas marked with yellow circles are also very beautiful, but the streets were under construction when I was there in May.

This region is called the Castle District (A Budai Várnegyed), and it’s a must-see for all those new to Budapest. We started walking from the Matthias Church to the other end of the hill where the Buda Castle, National Széchényi Library and the Budapest History Museum were located. We stayed on Szent György utca and walked around until we were back where we started. It probably took us a good two hours or so. Highly recommended!

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Make sure you take enough water around with you so that you don’t get ripped off. You’ll also pass by a small cluster of stands selling all kinds of bits and bobs, but resist it if you can because you’ll be better off spending your money at the Great Market Hall in town.

The Best Panoramic View of Budapest from the Fisherman’s Bastion

This was our second time in Budapest, and instead of driving to Hungary from Switzerland we flew over this time. We arrived on a sunny afternoon, and we were very eager to embrace our week-long tourist identities right away.

One of the first places we visited was the Fisherman’s Bastion (Halaszbastya). I think it’s the best place to get a panoramic view over the entire city.

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That stunning architectural wonder you can see at a distance in the picture above is the parliament building. It’s even more impressive inside. I’ll post about it soon. Read about it here.

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The Fisherman’s Bastion is built like fortified defence wall with seven towers representing tribal leaders. This place used to be where the town’s fish and grocery markets were held in the Middle Ages. The Bastion was built years later between 1895-1902.

This major staircase will lead you down to the river eventually, but there are a good network of busses running until quite late into the night.

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There are also stairs at each ends of the wall. You can walk along the top and also go into the towers, but you have to pay a fee during the day. The barriers remain closed after peak hours but not locked, so you can just push through and get free access up there during the evening. Woot!

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Just behind the Fisherman’s Bastion is the Matthias Church a.k.a. The Church of Our Lady. Can you believe that this was once turned into a mosque during the Turkish occupation in Hungary? For those interested, its history is well worth a read!

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We hovered around here until we could catch the sunset.

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The weather was closing in on the other side but we didn’t care because Budapest welcomed us with a great big rainbow as if to say, “it’s ok, stay“.

Domodossola Revisited, and Tips for a Comfy Train Ride to Italy from Switzerland

I always love coming back to Domodossola. I enjoy waking up early to catch the train and eat my breakfast on the go. Sometimes I snooze or get some serious reading done on the way.

I like to pack these items listed below to insure a comfortable train journey.

- A bottle of water and some snacks.

- Some music and good headphones. Mandatory if you want to drown out noise.

- A novel, or some kind of reading material.

- A jumper or a lightweight infinity scarf. Essential for covering up your ugly sleeping face, or to simply stay warm.

- And ladies, this will save you from a lot of public toilet traumas. Believe me. It’s a life saver. For my Swiss readers, you can get it here.

I’ll also make sure to look up when my train leaves in the afternoon so that I don’t have to run down the street like a crazy woman.

I highly recommend reading up on what you’re allowed to bring back from Italy, and of course, the quantities too. Lastly, always remember to ask for and keep the receipts of whatever you purchase in Domodossola.

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A Weekend Getaway in Colmar, France

When we were preparing for the big move to Switzerland four years ago, we decided to forgo buying a car upon arrival in favour of travelling abroad more.

Back then I used to panic at the idea of not owning my own car because I didn’t know anything else. I started driving when I was 15 and drove around everywhere ever since.

The public transport system in the area where I lived ticked on its own clock, and I didn’t have monster calf muscles strong enough to cycle up and down the hills of Auckland.

I had to part with my beloved station wagon when I moved. I was absolutely heartbroken when I had to say bye to it because it was such a good car. I used to be able to fit my entire life into it and feel invincible.

So far we’ve done pretty well. Switzerland’s public transport system is so great and reliable that I actually don’t mind being on buses and trains. I hardly ever felt the need or urge to go out and buy a car … well, until one particular weekend in February when we had a car long enough to use it beyond necessity and drove to a beautiful place for a weekend getaway for no other reason than ‘just because we can’.

This little town was called Colmar of the Alsace region of north-eastern France, and the architectural landmarks had me practising tai-chi at a distance with my camera.

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Fun fact: If you’ve watched Howl’s Moving Castle, you’ll love walking around this town even more : )

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