My dad visited me last week, and I took the opportunity to gratuitously skip Hungarian class and visit places I can’t reach with my student transportation pass. We saw a fair amount of sights in Budapest too, both because he was here for the first time and because I was eager to show the city to someone who knew less about it than I did. (Being asked for directions by tourists is a serious ego trip, for one.) We visited St. Stephen’s Basilica, walked along the river to see the Buda sights, shopped on Andrássy and Váci, had tea at the famous New York Café, and sampled the ridiculous culinary offerings at Onyx.
But driving out of the capital was definitely the best part of our week. With the help of a chatty Russian-speaking tour guide that my dad had found from a friend of a friend of a friend in Moscow, we got to Esztergom, Visegrád, and Szentendre in one day and even crossed the river into Slovakia for a grand fifteen minutes just for the sake of it.
The Esztergom Basilica, perched on a small riverbank hill where the Danube divides Hungary and Slovakia, is absolutely beautiful. My neighbor–who graciously invited me for duck, red cabbage, and Soproni last week–is a native of Esztergom, so I hope to visit the town itself with her recommendations.
We visited Visegrád Fortress next, climbing up the icy levels of the citadel for some fantastic views. The earliest fortress stood here before the Mongol invasion, but this one was built by Bela IV in the 13th century. I had heard of the place in terms of the Visegrád Four, so of course there was a fit of geeky excitement involved in the visit.
The day ended in Szendendre, a lovely little town of colorful houses, many museums, great wine, and lazy cats.
I came back to Budapest absolutely exhausted and carrying a loot of postcards to send to Vera, jewelry to please Helen, and Tokaji to keep me company during endless readings. I definitely want to go back–both because my wine is running low and because the Marzipan Museum was closed for renovations.