Budapest: Umbrellas, castles and a failed attempt at being cultured / by Rachel Banfield

The day started out like most of my travelling days: I got lost. 

Luckily, just as I realised that I had been walking in the completely wrong direction for 20 minutes, I saw this shop. 

Gluten free bakery items, how convenient!

Armed with some sustenance for a day of some serious sightseeing, I retraced my steps back to the hostel door and this time took a right. 

I started taking photos of beautiful streets from under my umbrella. 

But then I realised that basically every street was beautiful. 

And it felt like everywhere I turned there was some kind of statue.

I turned around the corner and saw this impressive building. 

St Stephen's Basilica - beautiful both on the outside, 

and the inside. 

And famous for hosting the hand (yes, an actual mummified hand) of Hungary's first king, St. Stephen, in the little box below. 

As well as mummified hands, the church also hosted an odd species of humans with extra long arms... 

Outside, I was very glad to see that the tourist trend of matching outfits had not faded since I was last in Europe.

I, on the other hand, with my huge camera, scruffy backpack and sneakers, blended right in. Especially as I wandered along reading this book... 

I braved the wet outdoors for a while, along with a few other umbrella wielding visitors, 

And some with more unique anti-rain styles,

Before ducking into the nearest building. 

Which, being the parliament, kindly requested that people to give up their guns and daggers before entering. 

I continued to walk along the waterfront arriving shortly after at the Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial. The 60 pairs of shoes, made from iron, were created in memory of the Jews who, in 194401945 were lined up, told to remove their shoes (which were valuable) before being shot into the river by the fascist Arrow Cross militiamen. 

From here I crossed over the river to Buda. 

Where I walked up the winding path towards the Buda Royal Palace. 

Visiting the Hungarian National Gallery,

And taking in stunning views of the city. 

By now I'd been walking for around 6 hours and my legs were pretty tired, so I headed back to the hostel. Passing through the Jewish Quarter, which includes the Great Synagogue, 

And more incredible buildings. 

After a cup of tea in the only mug-like item I could find (an enormous beer tankard), I set out, in an attempt at being cultured, to brave the opera.

According to my Mum, the last time I went, about 20 years ago, my sisters and I grumbled the entire time about it being horrendously boring and then laughed hysterically when, in the last scene, the main lady screeched in Italian "I shall liiiiiiiiiiiiive" and then promptly died. 

At least this time I could appreciate the setting. 

But, despite reading about the story line before it started, and the English subtitles (which my Mum said aren't called that), I didn't quite follow the story. It might have been to do with the old setting on the story contrasting with the chucks being worn by most of the singers. 

And then, when the final scene involved the main character's dramatic death, I wondered if I had in fact come to see the same one as the last. Or perhaps this is just how all operas end?

Overall, even in constant rain Budapest is a beautiful city full of majestic buildings and friendly people. If the city would be gracious enough to accept an uncultured, non-opera loving and slightly scruffy Kiwi, I would love to come back.