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Splendor of Budapest

June 02, 2011 byDiane

When I heard that my nephew, Hubertus von Hohenlohe was going to show his photos at the Hungarian National Museum, I jumped at the occasion to visit Budapest for the weekend. It wasn’t hard to convince Christian Louboutin to come with me…he too had never been. After settling in at the newly restored Four Seasons Hotel in Gresham Palace, which has exceptional views of the Danube River, we crossed the bridge to visit the famous Gellért Public Bath House. Even though it is slightly worn out, it is as big and grand as one would expect. It brings you back to the splendor of the end of the 19th century ! We soaked in the hot tub, swam, walked the gardens and had a good, old fashioned mud treatment. Afterward we stopped in the tea room for cakes and hot chocolate.

Hubertus’ show was impressive, his large pop photographs are as powerful as they are colorful !

The next day was for sightseeing. Our guide Ezster was wonderful, knowledgeable and fun. We started in Buda, the hilly side of the city, marveled at the Matthias Church, walked the old streets and admired the view of the Danube and of Pest, the flat part of the city. We went to the Castle Hill, now a museum, and saw the beautiful pictures of Mihály Munkácsy. We soon learned that all the splendor of Budapest dates back to 1896 and all of the majestic buildings were built then to celebrate the first centennial of the city.

We walked through antique shops and had a quick lunch at Dio on Sas Street. We drank great Hungarian red wine and visited the folkloric Néprajzi Museum. The building is grand and the collection is interesting…a great way to understand the country. Two pianists were rehearsing for the night celebrating the 200 years of the birth of musician Franz Liszt, adding great flavor to the visit. A final stop at Alexandra, the huge bookstore on Andrássy Street, where another magnificent 19th century ballroom was yet another tea room !

On Sunday morning, we decided to go out of the city to the charming village of Szentendre where we visited the churches and shopped for embroideries and Hungarian wine. We went back to Budapest for lunch in the garden of famous Gundel by the zoo. We then went to visit the Applied Art Museum, an extraordinary architectural extravaganza where we saw the Esterházy collection of textiles ! Amazing experience.

To end the tour on a modern touch, we went to the Palace of the Arts, visited the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art and got a glimpse of the concert hall famous for the best acoustics in the world !

We were sad to leave but so happy to have discovered this wonderful city and promise to return soon !

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