Our second day in Budapest dawned bright and early.
(OK maybe not early. But it was definitely bright.)
We wandered back down to the Danube, and strolled along the river bank, snapping aaaaall the photos along the way.
One of the few things I had read about Budapest that I really wanted to see was the Danube Shoe Memorial.
It’s a monument to the 3,500 Hungarians who died on the river bank during World War II. Men, women and children lined up along the river bank, and told to remove their shoes and valuables, before being shot right into the Danube.
In remembrance, the artist has created sixty pairs of shoes out of iron, and stuck them to the river bank. The shoes are usually surrounded by tealights and flowers, and it’s a really touching and heartbreaking landmark.
I especially got choked up over the tiny baby booties…
We then strolled along past the stunning Parliament building which is SO BEAUTIFUL.
My inner architecture geek was having a little freak out cos of all the pretty detailing. You can book tours to see the inside, but once again, we decided we’d rather wander around outside.
It looks stunning from the photos I’ve seen though, so it’s definitely on our list of things to do on our next trip to Budapest!
We walked past Parliament, and carried on until we found the bridge that crosses to Margaret Island.
Plopped right in the centre of the Danube, the island has been used as everything, from a hunting ground to a health resort. It’s now a popular recreational spot with both locals and tourists.
Our main reason for visiting was the Musical Fountain. A few people had recommended it to us, and it definitely didn’t disappoint!
It’s a decorative fountain on the south side of the island, and true to it’s name, it “dances”. Sort of.
Every hour on the hour, it shoots water into the air, forming shapes and patterns in time to the music.
We heard Swan Lake, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and traditional Hungarian folk songs, and I just sat there with the biggest grin on my face. It was utterly magical and definitely my favourite thing about the island.
In fact I’d say it was one of the highlights of the whole trip!
We spent the rest of the morning exploring Margaret Island.
There’s a jogging path, which is very popular with the locals, that runs around the entire perimeter. We followed that for a little while, then twisted off, on to a muddy forest trail.
We crossed a beautiful clearing, lined with trees slowly turning orange. We admired all the carefully maintained flowerbeds, explored the ruins of the old nunnery, and even stopped by the duck pond to watch the children feeding the ducks.
The whole island is interesting and beautiful, and I’m so glad we had the time to explore it properly!
We walked for hours and, by the time we reached the very northern tip of the island, our tummies were beginning to rumble. So we crossed the bridge to the mainland, and headed off in search of lunch.
And here, hidden down one of the backstreets of the Buda bank, we discovered Kéhli Vendéglő.
Kéhli is a local family restaurant, quiet and unassuming, with friendly staff and INSANELY good food.
We started with a Hungarian peasant plate to share: home-made bacon, ham and paprika sausage, with pickles, red cabbage and (bizarrely) half a yellow pepper.
Gary had local beer and I went for a glass of the spectacularly good local red wine (which only costs about £1.50 per glass!)
Then, for mains, we both ordered the beef goulash with potato dumplings and sheep’s cottage cheese.
HOLY MOTHER OF HUNGARY.
The beef was rich, deep and full of paprika-y goodness. The pasta-shaped dumplings were soft and doughy, and the cottage cheese added an indulgent touch of creaminess.
Honestly, it was the best meal we had in Budapest.
I’m determined to find a way to recreate it in my slow-cooker at home!
The bill only came to about £27 between the two of us too. If that’s not a bargain, I don’t know what is!
After lunch, we walked down the Buda river bank, back towards Budapest city centre.
However we hadn’t quite realised just how far we’d gone!
It took us about ninety minutes to get back to our hotel, and by the time we did, we were shattered…
We were just in time for the wine and cheese though, so all’s well that ends well!