After staying the night at Stansted Airport, we departed on an early morning flight for a long Easter weekend to city that has been on my list to visit for some time. Called the ‘Paris of Eastern Europe’, I was intrigued to experience this city set along the picturesque Danube.
We arrived in the city centre mid morning in glorious weather and wandered around the city centre and riverside before checking in. A late brunch at cafe Kuglóf (a great little place) allowed me to sketch a beautiful spot close to the river at Piarista Köz. We actually figured out that we had mixed up which side of the river is which! We were actually staying in Pest.
And then a beer along the river before reaching the hotel (D8 - great modern good value hotel in a superb location) and quick sketch of one of the amazing historic buildings close to the Chain Bridge.
Later out for dinner in the Jewish Quarter followed by a drink in the fascinating and vibrant ruin bars at Szimpla Kert - set in the shell of a former crumbling factory building, it was one of the first condemned buildings to be transformed into cultural spaces and party zones.
After breakfast (and a quick sketch of the lively street Vaci utca) we walked the the bustling Great Market where we enjoyed an Apple Strudel that had been recommended by another online blog.
Then across another bridge to Buda and a walk up to the panoramic viewpoint at the Citidel, continuing to Buda Castle and along to the busy Fisherman’s Bastion constructed in 1895 as part of Hungary’s millennial birthday celebrations I couldn’t help but notice the parliament building on the walk yesterday and it screamed ‘sketch’ to me.
Today’s walk gave me a great opportunity to sketch in a bar supplying me beer and coffee! One must in Budapest is the thermal baths and I noticed a Saturday night party at the main Széchenyi Baths, one of the largest spa baths in Europe and situated in the city’s lush City Park - a great experience to go ‘clubbing’ in an outdoor pool until 3am!
After a late night, a more chilled day visiting Budapest Zoo, one of the oldest in the world situated adjacent to the thermal baths in City Park (Városliget). A very pretty setting and interesting exhibits filled several hours before relaxing in the park around the lake for a late lunch and of course an opportunity for another sketch.
Then out to dinner and lucky to get into a small Trip Advisor highly recommended restaurant, Rentek which was close by. The meal was absolutely delicious and was great value for money.
Finally we met up for a drink with Miguel, a fellow sketcher, who was also visiting the city and had noticed my posts. We first met when he attended a couple of urban Sketcher Southampton sketch crawls when the group was first set up and again bumped into him at last years USk Symposium in Porto. It’s a small sketching world! It’s was good to see him again.
A morning left before returning to the airport, but time for breakfast (and sketch) in a local cafe before a quick visit to see Cafe New York.
The New York Palace building was constructed in 1894 by the New York Life Insurance Company as a local head office. The famous New York Café on the ground floor became an important meeting place for Hungarian literature and poetry. We were hoping to get a coffee but as the queue long, we only managed to get inside to take some photos before rushing back to the airport.
With 20 mins to spare, I managed to look around the perimeter of an amazing collection of historic Russian civil aircraft (from Hungary’s former flag carrier, Malév) at the air museum next door - I’d love to visit this properly another time.