Taking our break from our usual work to home routine life, for our summer holiday last year my boyfriend and I decided to spend it in Budapest, Hungary. We were looking forward to seeing beautiful sceneries and having our adrenalines pushed by the activities this city has to offer. Our journey began with enduring a 15 hour Lufthansa Airways flight from JFK Airport to Budapest Ferihegy International Airport. It was a summer holiday we will remember for a long time.
To begin with, we were with six other tourists who witnessed a wonderful shooting lesson and thrill at the Celeritas Shooting Club. None of us had ever held or fired a real weapon before, but Peter (the club owner) was really good at explaining things to us. We fired twelve different weapons and had a fun time there. While video games, movies, and news accustomed us to the vision of firearms, the contact was amazing! Peter is very friendly, speaks perfect English, with a great sense of humor and makes us safe. The shooting range is located quite far from the city centre in a suburban area not accessible by public transport. It is in a somewhat derelict land and building where we walk down to a basement and wait in a dark room. We opted for a City Taxi as suggested by their website. Peter and two of his instructors accompany us and explain the history and handling of each weapon. Earplugs and safety glasses were handed out upon entrance. The shooting range is pretty small and it takes two people to take and shoot the same time. I empty my Beretta, Gloc, and Colt within five minutes. The assault rifles were heavy and take more time to handle and shoot. We got ample opportunity to get acquainted with the weapons after the shooting. Peter himself took our pictures and gave ideas for poses. We were very proud of the targets that we were allowed to take home as souvenirs.
On our second day we had another day for an adrenaline pushing activity at the TRAP Team Race Against Puzzles. We split up the bill with another couple to make up the four member group who will solve the puzzles on each room we enter. The puzzles were not easy to find, small doors, some of it we have skipped only to get back again to find another missing piece. My overall opinion was all together positive. At a scheduled time we enter a room and from that time we have an hour to get to the final solution before the timer runs out. We were faced with the strangest riddles all connected to each other, where we had a good sense of observation of what is present in the room. The guy who runs the game speaks and hears us Big Brother Style, so when we get stuck we ask him for help. The activity was quite expensive but divided into four it was a good team building activity for a group of friends. It’s a game that is basically locked together and relies on the physical and mental skills of a team. It is fun and something that is totally different and is an ideal plan to try out any day in Budapest.
Whether in summer or winter caving is always a hit. This is how I felt when I entered the mystical caverns of Caving in Budapest. We entered the caves with eight other tourists after given helmets, head lamps, and suits we crawled onto narrow crevices and dark paths inside the cave. Often times we need to crawl lying thru our stomach. Caving is definitely a must! It was my first time to cave and I was not sure if it was a good idea because, I also prefer avoiding tight spaces. But I felt safe all the time with my boyfriend with broad shoulders and our guide who ensures our safety all the time as we make our way out of the dark cave. We certainly had a lot of fun in our group and there was none who regretted it afterwards. I got bruises and scratches but it was worth every single one. Before the day ended we took time to hear a concerto at the Hungarian State Opera House (Magyar Allami Operahaz). It is an excellent place with a magnificent auditorium. We had a wonderful tour and I was very impressed. To be allowed to take photos one has to pay an additional ticket but, no one respects it. Housed in a beautiful building with an artistic façade, I was hoping for a backstage tour after the concert but we were not allowed to go behind the scenes of a great performance.
Before enjoying the boat ride over Danube, we took time to take a walk at the Shoes on the Danube Promenade. It is a nice walk along the banks of Danube River that provides a view of the beautiful buildings. One of them is Hungary’s magnificent Houses of Parliament. Outside we saw the 88 statues and the many beautiful wall paintings inside when we passed by. We also saw the metal shoes of the Jews, Danube Parliament side just before the bridge chains. It shows the reproduction of sixty pairs of iron shoes, placed at the edge of the river for forty meters in length and are the footwear that the Hungarian Jews were forced to take off by order of the Arrow Cross who fired at women, old and children, before throwing them lifeless into the river. I stopped next to a pair of boots similar to the ones I usually wear, took a picture, placed a flower, and inserted two pennies in it. For me the place is sacred and emotionally touching for a dangerous cross road to freedom, lives were sacrificed along these banks. In memory of the Holocaust victims we took time with the rest of other tourists to gather and offer a moment of silence and quiet meditation on this wonderful location.
After touring the banks we took advantage of the Danube River Cruises. The Danube River winds its way through the capital and separates the old and the new Budapest. The river is lined with numerous sights, of which the Parliament Building is the most spectacular. Especially nice is the Danube Shipping which is offered by many tour companies. The two sides are connected to the capital by a total of nine bridges, of which the Chain Bridge is certainly the most beautiful and worth seeing. One of the great viewpoints was the site of the Castle Hill (Varhegy) and the adjacent buildings. At night time the views become more picturesque as the lighted buildings illuminate the river. From the boat we get a different impression of this beautiful city, indeed this river is the heart of Budapest.
Fisherman’s Bastion (Halaszbastya) is so called as it was built near the old fish market called Bastion. It was quite an amazing place, richly decorated, and gives a beautiful view of Budapest, the Danube River, and the Parliament on the other side. Built in the early times the Bastion is located on the Buda side. The name was inspired by the fishermen who lived there in the middle ages and were holding their market. The decorative building is reminiscent of a “castle” or a film set and was repeatedly rebuilt over the years. There are terraces, stairways, niches, arcades, and towers spread over a length of 140 meters. From the top we had a beautiful view of the Pest side and the rest of the river. It is an outstanding building with a beautiful panorama.
Our romantic summer holidays were all the more made memorable by the scenic views along Budapest. A visit here is a must.