Budapest (10/11 ~ 10/13/2014)

We had a 1/2 day city tour with a local guide.
Here we were on the Buda side, at the west bank of the Danube River.
The hill on the left hand side of the picture is called the "Castle Hill" where
most of Buda's main sights are.

Matthias Church on the Castle Hill.
The Roman Catholic church was named after the popular Renaissance King, King Matthias (1443-1490).
The church was the scene of several coronations, including that of Charles IV in 1916 (the last Habsburg king).
When the Turks captured Buda in 1541 this church was turned into a mosque.
The church charges admission to go in, our guide told us to wait to see the St. Stephen's church in Pest instead.

Fisherman's Bastion - a terrace with panoramic views of Danube River and Pest.
The Bastion takes its name from the guild of fishermen that was responsible for defending
this stretch of the city walls in the Middle Ages.

Hungarian Parliament building.
A notable landmark dominating Pest's skyline.

Andrassy UT (UT = Boulevard) - Budapest's Champs-Elysees.

The palatial Széchenyi Fürdő - Széchenyi thermal bath.
Do you think the Japanese word "Fu-Ro" (hot bath) perhaps came from Hungarian Fürdő?

Hero's Square at the eastern end of Andrassy UT, paying tribute to Hungary's historical figures.

Close-up of some of Hungary's historical heroes.

We broke away from the group and walked along Andrassy UT from Hero's square to Liszt's Museum.
Near Liszt's Museum, a park bench was made to look like a piano keyboard.

Ah, but the museum guard told us it was closed today, Sunday.

We then walked to Liszt Ter (Liszt Square) to look for lunch.

Franz Liszt Academy of Music - located at the end of the Liszt Square.

A statue of Liszt was front and center above the academy's front door. 

A statue of music conductor Georg Solti was in front of the academy.

Our lunch restaurant called "Menza" in the Liszt Square.

Vincent's Hungarian Beef Stew with pasta.
Looked yummy and tasted yummy.

Mei-Ching's grilled duck breast with mushroom sauce on pasta.
The waiter asked how do I want the duck breast cooked, I said "fully cooked".
On hind sight, I like it pink inside just like the duck breast I had at Bruno's in Amboise this April.

We bought tickets for a 3 o'clock tour of the Hungarian State Opera House.
Construction began in 1875, funded by the city of Budapest and by Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary,
this opera house was built so that the Hungarian noble families did not have to travel
all the way to Vienna in order to enjoy opera.

The main staircase for the general public.

The private staircase for Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary.
This staircase has only been used once, because the emperor only came to this opera house once.

The interior of the state opera house.

In a foyer, a mezzo-soprano sang two arias for those who paid 600 Forint additional for the singing.
(600 Forint was about USD$2.50).

The view of Andrassy UT from the Opera House's 2nd floor patio.

Váci utca (Váci street) - a pedestrian thoroughfare full of restaurants and higher-end shops.
In the 1980's, this was the closest to western European shopping for East Germen, Czechs and Poles
who could get a day-pass to come here.

A pastry stand on Váci utca.

In the evening, GCT chartered a boat for our cruise on the Danube River.
The bridges, monuments and landmark buildings on both sides of the river were brightly lit.

The parliament building.

The palace on the Castle Hill.

The Great Market Hall. You do not need more than 30 minutes here.
We purchased sweet paprika to bring home.

On the 2nd floor of the Great Market Hall were many food stalls and a spacious restaurant.
These were sandwiches on display by a food stall.

Our farewell dinner was at a restaurant in downtown Budapest called "Wine Cellar".
The restaurant has a series of cellars, and each cellar was used as a dining room for a tour group.
Each of our dinner courses was paired with a wine.

This Gypsy band moved from cellar to cellar entertaining 180 dinner guests through out the evening.

This fiddler was very good. He could play songs from many parts of the world.
He played Chinese folk song "在那遙遠的地方as soon as he saw Lu-Shin, a GCT tour member originally from Malaysia.
Many from our table responded by singing and clapping along with songs he played.
The fiddler had a good time, and we as guests also had a fun evening.
At the end of the evening, Misha passed a plate, and we all put money in it to tip the band.


Main plate, Hungarian beef stew with mashed potato. 

Dessert - not too sweet and not greasy, we ate it all.