For the last full day we headed out of Budapest, to the area known as ‘The Danube Bend’. We went by bus to Esztergom from the bus station. We were planning to come back by boat from Szentendre later, but that plan was well and truly scuppered. More on that tale of woe later. We did consider a boat trip there and back, but as our money was getting low decided to use the low-cost bus option. The bus station in Esztergom is a lot closer to the centre of the city than the rail station, so if you have mobility issues the bus is the way to go. The superb website link below describes the various modes of transport to the Danube Bend towns and cities, with travel times and costs involved.
Esztergom has architecture befitting a former Hungarian Capital City, which it was for three hundred years between the 13th and 16th centuries. The literally outstanding sight of Esztergom is the enormous Basilica, seen from everywhere in the city due to its dominating position atop Castle Hill. It was weird seeing a Basilica surrounded by military fortifications, but we presume it was a necessary marriage of ecclesiastical and military needs at a time when conflict with rival tribes was a constant threat.
This view was taken from Maria Valeria Bridge.
There are quite a few buildings that have ornate frontages in Esztergom.
Széchenyi Square, rebuilt and renovated in 2006.
Also renovated in 2006 was the ‘Old Seminary’.
The former synagogue.
There are some baroque churches to visit in this small city too.
St. Peter’s & St. Paul’s church.
And a church in Watertown, plus a few more examples.
When you have finished walking round the streets of Esztergom, just head towards the Danube river to the Maria Valeria Bridge.
Image from Wikimedia Commons user Nyar94
Walk across the Bridge and halfway across is the border between Hungary and Slovakia. It is marked by a plate with car registration country identifier letters ‘SR’ for Slovakia, and ‘MK’ for Hungary. The Hungarian letter should be a ‘H’, but ‘MK’ stands for Magyar Koztarsasag or ‘Republic of Hungary’ in English, as shown below. This was a really easy way to tick another country off the ‘to do’ list. There are conflicting reports as to whether you need a passport to enter Slovakia or not, we say play safe and take it anyway.
Yvette with Esztergom Basilica in the background at the border, I wish I had told her to go to her right for a better composition of the photograph.
Mark in Hungary, sorry about the image quality Yvette was ‘fighting’ the twin foes of sunlight and shade.
Yvette in Slovakia, well nearly, it was the only way to get her and the sign in shot.
Sturovo was a sleepy town in Slovakia that appeared to have not much to recommend a trip to it, other than crossing Slovakia off the countries done list. After walking around for a while, it soon dawned on us that the sooner Mark had drunk his beer that confirmed in his weird mind that he had visited Slovakia the better. There was not much to see, but hopefully that will change as the locals were very pleased to receive tourists from Hungary. There is a pedestrianized square, and that appeared to be that. If anyone knows different, we would love to be proved wrong.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons user’ Husond’.
A quick walk back over the bridge and a bus ride later we entered the city of Szentendre, another riverside location that is quite close to Budapest. We headed for the main square, Fö tér.
Image of below by Thaler Tamas.
If you like museums then this is the day trip for you, as there are a wide variety of museums to visit. If forced to pick just one, it would have to be the Hungarian Open Air Museum. This museum showcases differing styles of Hungarian houses through the centuries.
Now that our sightseeing was at an end, our thoughts turn to the short return to Budapest. We assumed that a quick hop on the boat back would be a nice way to end the daytrip, so went to the boat pier. Then we found that the boat was not operating, like it does every Monday. So it was back to the bus for us, and with red faces at our own ignorance as well.
Tips for travel
A nice side trip in Budapest is to head to the Children’s Railway in Buda. This can be combined with the ‘Libegő’ (chairlift)
By Hu Totya on Wikimedia commons
Beware a scam that usually involves single men being invited by a couple of women to a ‘great’ bar or restaurant. At the end of a boozy meal the bill arrives and it is as inflated as a politicians ego. We are surprised at how many are duped by this, but note that it is not confined to Budapest. This scam has been running for years in many European cities.
And Another Thing…. Returns (no booing!)
If we meet one more ‘traveller’ who states that only they are experiencing the ‘real’ (insert city/area/country here) we will punch them on to their arrogant derriere. The way these people look down their noses at ‘tourists’ is a sight to behold. Please don’t bore us anymore with constant remarks of how the food you ate was ‘authentic’. Eating food like sheep’s eyes is just providing entertainment for the locals. What did you get the stupid ‘traveller’ to eat today? is probably the favourite past-time of bored locals fed up with arrogant foreigners. And if someone could explain the concept of ‘keeping it real’, I’d be happy to ignore it, like I always do anyway. A thought for the travellers who would die of embarrassment at being labelled a tourist. Everyone wants to have a good time on holiday, right? We are all individual, with individual holiday needs that are a wide spectrum of possibilities. If everyone wanted the same ‘real’ holiday, the overcrowding would ruin it. So tourists should be respected for the package holidays they take, they are keeping your holiday ‘real’, after all.
Thanks for reading.
Mark & Yvette