Fog continued to lie heavily across the city this chilly Saturday morning. Hopping off the bus to the city centre, we walked to Budapest’s bustling Great Market Hall after admiring the thick fog across the river, Gellért Hotel peeking out wearily across the Danube.
Inside, the hall was filled with scurrying and wandering locals and tourists, picking out items spanning traditional Hungarian memorabilia to fresh fruits, vegetables, and an array of meats, grizzle and all. The Great Market Hall is the biggest market in the city and was first opened in 1897 where the fresh produce would arrive through a canal that ran through the centre of the hall. Sadly the canal is gone, but the market is still full of a vibrant array of produce available for all. On the bottom floor you’ll find food produce and more edible/drinkable gifts and on the top floor there are a plethora of stalls, serving to your souvenir needs.
Alongside these stalls are Hungaricums; if you’re looking for some authentic, although perhaps overpriced, food, head here to satiate your stomach. You can find töltött káposzta (stuffed cabbage leaves with meat and rice), Goulash and the classic Lángos – basically a gigantic flat doughnut with any toppings of choice, sweet or savoury. Clearly, iy had to be sampled, and with the clock striking noon and an influx of visitors piling into the narrow walkways of the second floor of the market, lunchtime was near. Surely they tasted of a childhood food my grandma would make for me: Mekitsi, a traditional Bulgarian food made of kneaded dough made with yoghurt that is deep fried. And, I’m not going to lie, I believe they’re probably exactly the same thing (I love Europe).
In the afternoon we ventured to the Hungarian Parliament building once more, to see the beautiful neo-gothic architecture in daylight. Flocks of birds soared up and down the Danube, but not by typical means of transport; the river was still encrusted with large broken sheets of thick ice. And so the birds perched upon them, collectively travelling to their destination.
Quick stop for traditional chimney cake.
Somehow the light of day managed to escape us rapidly and, by the time we trotted up multiple flights of stairs up to Budapest’s Fisherman’s Bastion, the sky had turned a deep navy blue. Up another of Budapest’s hills, the Fisherman’s Bastion is almost castle like – in other words, something you could imagine from a Disney movie. Turrets and high peaks and long walls with arched windows bunched together in an organised huddle, illuminated my beams of amber and white fog lights, standing tall and watching over the city. It was originally built as a viewing platform in 1905 by architect Frigyes Schulek and now stands as a neo-Gothic masquerade, offering the best views in Budapest. When you ascend one of the far left peaked turrets, you enter a small cafe, filled with heaters glowing neon red, which opens out onto a small terrace. Stepping out, you have the most astonishing panoramic view of the city, darkened by night but twinkling by man-made light.
Back on more level ground, a large square leads you to long stretches of wall with cut out arched windows, where you can sit and gaze out into the city. A sweet melody echoed across the Bastion from a woman on the violin, wrapped up wisely in a puffy jacket and thick wool hat. Behind stood St Matthias Church, also designed by Frigyes Schulek; serving the citizens of the Buda Castle Hill since 1015, this church is one of the finest in Budapest, it’s exterior breathtaking in design.