We spent our last couple of days in Budapest ensuring we ticked off most things that we felt we should be seeing - essentially we got on one of those Big Bus tour things. I must admit, it is a rarity for us to do one of these, but Budapest seemed like quite a big city, and the thought of another 25,000 steps in searing heat did not sit well with us. But, typically, what we saw the previous afternoon, was pretty much the main part anyway…
We did however spend some time on the Buda side of the river – this included the castle/palace (now housing museums) and the Fisherman’s Bastion. As per the Pest side, it had some beautiful old buildings, and cobbled streets (although a lot smaller, and really just 99% for tourists).
On our final morning we went to an amazing museum. The ‘terror’ museum completely misled me (I thought it was going to be some kind of London Dungeons type place) – it was all about the oppression the Hungarians suffered; first at the hand of the Nazis, and then by the Russians during their communist reign. It was extremely well done, even being housed in the old secret police headquarters.
After Budapest it was off to Vienna (stopping off briefly at the Heroes’ Momento Park – loads of saved Russian statues now housed in a park. I do love a good Russian monument!). Vienna was another extremely impressive city. It is as grand as Paris with huge old buildings all around the city – not what I remembered when I last visited about 20 years ago. We wandered around for a couple of days, really just soaking it all in (including the very cool mumok in the Museums Quarter). And I finally managed to get a genuine Schnitzel - our list of ‘cities we must return to’ is starting to get a little ridiculous.
Next up, on what was clearly another action packed week, was Ljubljana – the capital city of Slovenia. Now, if ever there was a city that I had never heard of, then this was it. Slovenia I suppose is not really a country you hear much about, but you would have thought, that as a European City we would have heard of it. Nope. Yet, what a fantastic city.
Ljubljana is built under a castle on the hill, and along a small river. It is very much a university town, and as such, has a great vibe about it. It has the standard European square with some old buildings & a church surrounding it, but then loads of cafes, restaurants, etc along each side of the river. We took a short walking tour (thoroughly recommended) and then went street art hunting leading us to the Metelkova commune. Basically squatters in an old army barracks (sounds familiar. Copenhagen anyone?). An interesting experiment, and always adds some interest to cities.
The end of the week, saw us spending a couple of nights at Lake Bled. You’ll probably recognise the lake – it’s the one that has the famous church in the middle of it. We arrived, and were like, ‘oh. It’s that Lake’ (you see a lot of these places when you spend a lot of the day on Instagram!). It was nice to simply relax, get a bit of fresh air, shower, and go for gentle walks.
What a week. What great cities we have on our doorstep. Lucky, lucky people.