Having flown in from Milan the evening before and done little else besides buy some vegetables for a homemade lentil and veggie dinner, we were ready and raring to go for our fist full day in Budapest.
We were staying in a lovely little apartment in a block of flats on the Pest side of the River Danube, close enough to walk only a short distance to find ourselves in the centre of the city.
We made rough plans to spend the first day mainly on the Buda side of the city (although taking in a few things on the Pest side as we passed through) and set off to cram in as many sites as we could. The first place we stumbled upon was the rather impressive St Stephen's Basilica, supposedly the most important church building in Hungary.
Pausing only to get some cash and bottles of water, we made our way through the beautiful streets of Budapest admiring the colour and architecture as we went. I have hundreds of street levels photographs of the buildings - all slightly differing in styles and colour, and all contributing to the character of the city.
It wasn't long before we reached our next 'must-see', the palacial Hungary Parliament Building. Looking not dissimilar to a fairytale castle, this building is simply stunning to admire. With dark red tiles against bright white stone it stood out from its surroundings, looking every bit the important building it is.
Budapest is a beautifully maintained city - very clean and with colourful flower displays everywhere you look. It's really rather photogenic! Also, does anyone else find that a tram can really make a photo?! I found myself capturing shots of them everywhere I went!
We wandered north along the river before crossing the bridge to Margaret Island (or Margitsziget) , a beautiful island 2.5km long in the centre of the Danube. We strolled the length of it, pausing to admire and photograph all kinds of wonderful things - from rose gardens, to churches, fountains, and even chickens!
Once we reached the top of the island, we crossed to the other side of the river and walked through some of the backstreets before coming out on the river's edge again. Feet beginning to ache, we went in search of a cafe and settled down for lattes and freshly squeezed orange juice - just the pick-me-ups required in order to keep exploring!
Back in the thick of the city centre, we admired the Hungarian Parliament Building again, look majestic besides the river and continued to wander, gazing up at buildings and spotting the details in the architecture.
We perhaps should have stopped for lunch sooner than we did, walking too far and passing many cafes and restaurants and eventually sitting in a slightly more touristy than desired cafe by a big roundabout. But food is food and we all felt much better for having eaten before carrying on.
Our next stop was to climb Gellért Hill to see the Liberty Statue. It was a steep climb in the humid, mid-afternoon heat, but the view from the top made it well worth the effort! We could see right across the city and along the river - and it was obvious why the owner of our accommodation had been so keen that we go.
Despite blistering feet and the encroaching black clouds, we continued to walk, wandering round the Citadella and onwards to Buda Castle. We admired the castle courtyard and facades before walking thorugh to the quaint little town within.
Eventually we could no longer ignore the huge, dark clouds coming ever closer and we dashed back home as fast as we could, making it safely indoors before the heavens opened! Luckily the rain didn't last too long and we were able to head out for dinner to a nearby garden restaurant.
I've decided to split my Budapest adventures into two posts because there were just far too many photos. So make sure to come back to read about day two!