Living in Europe has its advantages and, sticking to the New Year's good intention's list, I took off to Budapest for a three intense days. You don't have to spend lots of money to travel around and with a good low-cost air company and the last minute offer on a centred hotel, you will be a hundred percent sure your trip will be one of a kind. In my case, I travelled alone, but still I enjoyed the city so much I am planning to go back there again. To every one of you who may be in Italy, I suggest to book flights Milan-Budapest with the Hungarian company Wizz-air, or the route Venice-Budapest with the Ryanair. I personally chose Wiz-air because it was very cheap (65 euros round-trip) and I stayed at the Regency Suites Hotel in the heart of the city, 2 Madách Imre tér Budapest.
So, what can you visit in less than three days? I am a walking-lover and I love to wander around to discover new things and to capture the art, architecture and culture with the camera. Do not worry: Budapest is served by the subway, taxis, public transports and lots of Hop-on Hop-off coaches. Hence, I'll give you some hints in case you do not what to do.
The Jewish Synagogue, in Dohany street, is unique in its genre. It is the biggest in Europe and it belongs to the reformed branch of Jewish people. The organ with 5000 pipes is an unusual element for a Synagogue, but for the Jewish community is a good compromise as they invite famous artists to play it and they organise events and concerts for the whole city. The beauty and the magnificence that identify it are enhanced by the lights during the night. The ticket price is around 3000 HUF (Hungarian florin), which comprises the visit to the exhibitions and museum.
Castle of Buda is one of the first settlement of the Hungarian period, and it was used by the several kings and sovereigns of Hungary. The history is so long, but nowadays you can see the medieval walls and towers still existing and visit the different museums the building now hosts within. For a short historical immersion I'll suggest to stop at the History Museum at the top of the hill, while if you are interested in art and paintings, you must see the Hungarian National Gallery. The gallery is really huge, I spent there almost three hours and it reminded me of the Russian Hermitage and the London National Gallery, for the extent of size and the number of paintings kept.
After a short stroll from the Batthyany ter subway stop, or a twenty minutes' walk from the Chain Bridge and uphill, you will be literally amazed and enchanted by the stunning architecture which originates the so-called Fishermen's Bastion. My first impression was: "Wow, from which side shall I start to take pictures?" That is absolutely an incredibly and wonderful work of art, which stands on the Buda bank on the Danube River, staring at the Pest side of the city. The seven towers built in neo-Romanesque and neo-Gothic styles represents the seven Magyar tribes who settled in the region in the 896 A.D. and the name of the structure refers to the Fishermen's Corporation, who was in charge of protecting this specific part of the Castle's Walls. Just enjoy the romantic panorama and, if you have time, you should visit Matthias' Church situated just next to it. The area is so popular you will find Hilton hotel behind the Church too, so classy!
One of the most important and famous Budapest's point of interest is certaily the Parliament, huge and complex structure that recalls of Florence's architecture of Santa Maria Novella. I love Europe for these architectural and design elements, because they share an effortlessly allure, elegance and timeless grandeur. The building is open to the public and guide tours in the language you opt for are included within the ticket price (4000 HUF for non EU citizens, 2000 HUF for EU citizens). An hour and a half is adequate to see the main features of it: the long staircase and the golden ceiling, the main chamber of representatives, the guests' hall and the room of the Holy Hungarian Jewels. This room hosts the Holy Crown of Hungary, which is 1000 years old and it is constantly monitored by guards. Strictly, you must not take pictures of it. It is really worth paying a stopover.
I surely recommend a hidden pearl, even though it is located on the Pest side, between lots of luxury hotels looking at the Danube as well: I am talking of the Vigado Concert Hall. I was intrigued by this building, as it seemed an important place, but I did not glimpse any tourist. What a pity! There were two exhibitions inside, curated by the students of the Art School, which I found very remarkable. If you have then minutes to spend, take them just to admire the sumptuous furniture and baroque chandeliers.
In my opinion, the better ways to explore a city is walking around it, getting lost and seize every moment of beauty in your personal's shots. I did for Budapest too, in this case wandering in the dark, because Budapest by night is totally impressive! I knew it is called "The Paris of the East" and I understand now the reason of such strong statement: its atmosphere is so inspiring, bright and sparkling that is taking you back to a retro-chic lifestyle. The bridges are fabulously lightened-up, and so it is for hotels, squares, streets, monuments and each building belonging to the heritage past.
I was fond of a café-bakery called Lipoti. I felt comfortable there and the disposition was Sydney-London alike, not to mention the variety of sweets and savouries in the benches. Sat in a corner, in the shop in Rakoczi Road, I could notice the great coming and going of people that I took as a positive thing. I can't wait to going back again!