First steps in Budapest

In May, I went to Hungary to visit my friend Marci. He and his girlfriend Linda had visited me in Copenhagen last year, and had since then asked me times and again when I would go to Budapest. Since I had no idea about my future, I dared not plan something that could conflict with a potential job, so I kept delaying… until I landed this job at RELEX, one that leaves me a lot of freedom, as I’ve mentioned in the past (we’re hiring, by the way 😉 ). It was about time to go, so I planned this trip for the upcoming spring. 10 days, that was probably too much to spend in Budapest only, but luckily Marci had many surprises and half-surprises in store for me.

But let’s start with the capital.

I don’t have so much to say, so I will try a new format for this article. I will follow the photo-log layout used by kirilson in his own posts, basing my tale on the pictures instead of having them complementing the words. I hope you’ll like it; please do not hesitate to share your thoughts on the idea.
EDIT: now that I written it all, I realize I actually had a lot to say. Sorry, not sorry 😀

Of course I saw the Parliament, maybe the most iconic building in the city. It’s seen here from the other side of the Danube, but we’ll have more occasions to get acquainted 😉

Matthias Church, on the Castle Hill. Look at this whiteness! Many old buildings have been renovated in Budapest, making them look clean and new. It’s quite impressive.

From this roundabout, the (expensive) funicular climbs to the Castle Hill, and the Palace that tops it. Behind the trees, a tunnel links flat Pest (on the other side of the Danube) to hilly Buda. In the background, the Chain Bridge points directly to the Basilica.

Expensive but popular among tourist, so is the funicular (I didn’t try it, it wasn’t even included in my 3-day pass)

The sun was shining, which is not always ideal for taking pictures during the day, as it creates very contrasting shots with harsh shadows. It’s not necessarily something that bothers me when I’m shooting a city, but nonetheless, I appreciated the texture added by a few clouds in the sky.

Guided by Marci, I walked through the Palace, on paths and staircases forgotten by the crowds. The surroundings of Matthias Church were overpopulated, but globally the city is much more pleasant than Paris.

I like all machines, and especially public transportation means… and so does my friend (he’s a civil engineer). Of course he showed me all the possible trains, trams, trolleys, buses I could take during my stay in Budapest 😀

A következő megálló: Széll Kálmán tér, metróállomás. Or in English: “Next stop: Széll Kálmán tér, metro station”. That was the transportation hub closest to where my friend lived, so I heard this announcement quite a few times, when I was in the bus 😉 Tér means square.

Like Helsinki, Budapest has old and new trams… but many more routes!

After visiting the Sziget festival, a friend of mine complained there was noone speaking English to help them at the station, therefore I didn’t expect English to be widespread. Oh how wrong I was! Everywhere there are explanations in English, and in other languages as well. I was pleasantly surprised.

Here you can see an old tram, and a very old tram.

Marci went to the university to claim his diploma. New word: müegyetem = university.

Sometimes, when boys are bored, they make arguable decisions… like spreading the end of the water on the sidewalk.

Samuel doing Samuel things, like waking up early to greet the sun from the top of Nagy-Hárs hegy (new word: hegy = hill)

Climbing up the shaky tower with such a wind was a scary endeavour, but the view from there was stunning. I saw Budapest lying against the hills, but I was high above the daily hassle of all these people. I was a lonely guardian, witness but detached from the frenzy.

I like this picture, the diagonal perspective brings some dynamism and so does the contrast shadow / light. I took it after leaving the National Museum, in Múzeum körút (new word: út = street).

I have no picture from the museum itself (I’m not going to pay an extra to take pictures in a museum), but I have some thoughts about it. First, I was surprised to enjoy the old history: prehistory, early settlements… this is generally not my favourite part of history, but this section had been freshly renovated, and I found it very interesting. Usually there’s too much to read, but I didn’t get this feeling there; almost the opposite actually, sometimes I would have liked to know more about the general “political” situation. The “Middle-Age” and beyond section was older, and not as fascinating, but I still appreciated to learn about history we are not taught in France: how Hungary became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (it’s still not completely clear for me, though), how the fall of the Iron Curtain affected it… I’m looking forward to my next visit, when this part of the museum has been renovated as well =)
Oh, one more thing: as a fan of Finland, I would have really liked to read about the link between the Hungarian and Finnish languages… nothing about that anywhere, what a disappointment.

I found that Nemzeti Múzeum much more interesting than the national museums of Finland or Denmark, for instance…

Could be an old postcard… well, except from the state propaganda on the stop. As you may know, Hungary is close to an authoritarian state these days, with the almighty Orbán in the lead and two far-right parties holding the majority in the Parliament. When I asked my friend what he thought about this situation, he said he didn’t really know what to reply, because he didn’t really have time to think about politics. He only tried to live his life without caring too much about that. I envied him.
I have always been told to keep myself informed of what was happening in the world, and therefore I read a lot about the news. However, the situation in our world seems so depressing I sometimes wish I could stay away from news outlets, and focus on the things that really matter too me. The presidential election in France was an enormous waste of time – why did I simply not stop following it? Should I simply stop reading the news?

In the streets of Buda

My friend turned his late Grand-Pa’s apartment into a photo studio. I joined him during a photoshoot he had with a customer, but since everything happened in Hungarian, I was of little use there, so I started some experiments with Elmer and a globe I had found in the living room. Soon though, I escaped to witness the sunset from the nearby Castle Hill.

Said Castle Hill is much quieter in the late hours of the day… I still had to take a picture of a couple of tourists passing by, but for the most part I was alone, and happy about it.

Budapest opened a new metro line recently, but Metro 1 still runs under Andrássy út. It’s very special, because its course follows the straight street’s, only a few meters below it.

Andrássy út leads to Hösök tere, the square of heroes, with its statues and its peculiar pavement.

Hösök tere is another very touristic place: all around it, dozens of buses park to load or unload visitors, who can also see two art museums. The square is located on the edge of a very busy road, and vehicles can also drive around, making it a hectic place… though now that I think about it, that can be said of the whole city, except for a few pedestrian-only areas. There are lots of cars and lots of traffic jams in Budapest, and the driving style is… dynamic, to say the least. Quite a contrast compared to Helsinki, where we have congestion only between 8.30 and 9.00, and between 16.00 and 16.30.

Marci is a fire-fighter, and he showed me his fire-station, in the hills of the second district.

As a brigade of volunteers, they don’t have a very large budget, so they buy second-hand trucks and equipment from France. Marci always wear his top from the “sapeurs-pompiers” (official French for fire-fighters), as you can see in this portrait of him I have in my portfolio:

On my fourth day, before climbing to Citadella, I roamed along Villányi út, where I found this sexy man hidding in the bushes.

As a belvedere overlooking the heart of the city, Citadella is a popular place. From there, you have an amazing view over the Castle Hill, the Technical University, and Pest of course. There, Marci made amazing sunrise pictures this winter, check this link.

PestThe Castle Hill, with the Palace in the foreground and Matthias Church in the background.

To the north, the Parliament.

Right at the foot, Erzsébet híd (Elisabeth bridge, new word: híd = bridge)

I hope you’ve enjoyed this visit! Give me some feedback if you have any, and if not, see you next time, in the fields of Budakeszi 🙂

Follow me on Facebook: Samuel Bloch – Eiwar Photography

10 thoughts on “First steps in Budapest

  1. Bien que je ne sois définitivement pas un oiseau des villes, j’ai une sensibilité certaine pour les vieilles pierre et l’histoire. Ton reportage me laisse penser que cette ville me plairait très certainement. Que de superbes monuments. Au passage, les vues depuis les hauteurs de la ville sont magnifiques… oui, je confirme, ça donne envie (bien qu’Orbán beaucoup moins 😦 ) ! Merci Samuel 😉 Et au fait, les oiseaux des villes, tu en croisé au moins ? Je parle des vrais tout en plumes bien entendu 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Merci Sébastien, oui c’est une belle ville ! Et à part les pigeons et corvidés, je me souviens avoir croisé une petite troupe de mésanges à longue queue, dans un parc de Buda, le premier jour. Sinon pas grand chose, mais Budapest n’est pas Helsinki niveau nature ^^
      Ah si, des mouettes et un passage de héron au dessus du Danube 😉

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.