On our final day we cruised down Vaci Utca to fill our shopping needs, crossed the Liberty Bridge and spent 45 minutes attempting to locate somewhere to buy a tram ticket. Riding down to Chain Bridge, we took the rickety funicular up to Buda Castle to admire the vista of the city.
Today’s Royal Palace is the reconstruction of the Hapsburg-era monument which was flattened in 1945. Its hilltop vantage point not only gave it superb defences but also an unspoilt view as the Hungarian capital grew up around it, which we thoroughly enjoyed whilst nursing a large mug of ‘forralt bor’ (mulled wine).
Underneath the Royal Palace, sits the Castle Labyrinth. Now there was some controversy on whether this was actually open to the public, the website is pretty adamant that it’s shut…
However, I can safely say that it’s open, we followed a trail of signs for the attraction and were surprised to be admitted. Reminiscent of Thesaurus and the Minotaur, we followed a confusing path through the labyrinth, which was currently exhibiting scenes from a Verdi opera. Except for one other lone tourist, who was erratically charging round the tunnels, in a thoroughly un-nerving way, we had the place to ourselves. We got so far as the Dracula exhibit, where quite frankly, I lost my bottle, as I could no longer see my hands through the dense dry ice.
Quite spooked, we made Matyas church with its elaborate tiled roof and the Fisherman’s Bastion, the last stop of the day. The Bastion is a decadent viewing terrace and never actually used for any form of defence. Its conical towers are an allusion to the tribal tents of the early Magyars and we arrived just as the sun began to set over the Danube.
Toasting our final evening, we tucked in to our last bowl of goulash soup and a bottle of ‘Hungaria’, the country’s finest sparkling wine.