This morning Jocelyn and I got up (Jocelyn says after I (Jana) was a lazy bum) we decided to head out and find ourselves our Hop On Hop Off tour. We were super excited and figured we would also drop by the Opera House while we were at it. We had been told that it was every visitor's "Must See"...
Yeah, not so much. It was pretty inside. Looked like any other building from the outside. Well, any other building in HUNGARY that is. But they also wanted to charge us around $12.00 US dollars in order to get a tour (which personally, I prefer to call 2400 HUF!!!). Realistically, if we are going to pay to tour an Opera House, I am flying my butt back to Paris and am touring the Opera House THERE as it was the inspiration for Phantom. But I digress...
So, we went inside, snapped a few shots and decided to continue on back over to St. Stephen's Basilica to get our bus tickets for the city tour. As we were passing, a girl handed us a flyer for a different Hop On Hop Off tour. Now, we had strategized for a good 20 minutes the night before to hit up the 16 different locations in the one tour that would NOT take us to the three places we wanted to see: The Fisherman's Bastion, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (located in Heroe's Square) and the Opera House. This flyer showed that for $5.00 US dollars more, we could go to the major sites that we were wanting to originally see plus everything else that was in the original tour AND get two one-hour cruises for both day and evening!!! Yeah, that was a no-brainer. So we asked where we needed to sign up, thinking this was too good to be true, and the girl points across the street and says that we can get our tickets from her Brother across the street.
Enter Jocelyn's find for the Hungarian Husband Hunt. Said stranger has no name, but has amazing green eyes (Mrs. Mason- he has two of them!), is taller than her, athletic build and is "questionably" employed. He was a very nice guy and he answered all of our questions and sold us our tickets and told us where the nearest stop was so that we could hop on and begin our excursions before we met Steven for lunch.
For those of you who might not remember, we adopted Steven back in Vienna and as it turned out, he was coming to Budapest a day after us and staying for two days. He is probably headed over to the airport right now to crash for a few hours before his flight at 4 in the morning.
Back to the Hungarian Hunk! We went to find an ATM after paying him and then headed over to the pickup spot for our tour. Jocelyn's future husband came running back up to us to apologize and tell us that he had given me the wrong number of blocks to walk up to get to our spot. It was not one block, but two instead.
He was seriously a nice guy. Thankfully, I can read a map pretty quickly (thanks Dad!!!) and find my bearings anywhere so I had already assessed that. So with that, we said good-bye to Jocelyn's beau and took off.
As it turned out, the bus was full of people when we got there and there was no room. This wouldn't have been a problem but we had to meet Steven in two hours and the tour (if you didn't get off) was exactly two hours long and the last stop would drop us off at St. Stephen's (I know. Meeting Steven at St. Stephen's). So we headed over to the Basilica to scope out some good places to eat, hit up the souvenier shops and sat down on the steps to kick back for a moment... or we would have, had the freak monsoon not hit. Within 2 seconds, it went from a little clouded to torrential downpour so we headed over to the nearest café and took a seat (and no, they did not charge us for using their awning as shelter... because the Hungarians are NICE).
Ten minutes later, it was over and we stepped back into the light. We decided that since we had another half an hour that we would go INSIDE the Basilica for a change of scenery... and it is quite possibly the most beautiful Basilica I have ever stepped foot inside of. Word's cannot describe so I will load pictures on here for you to see as soon as we are able. Suffice it to say, it is HUGE, it contains the second largest Organ in the world (we think), and it also contains the Holy Right Hand of St. Stephen who is the founder of the Hungarian State. He was the first King of Hungary and was cannonized as a Saint. They have his hand on display in a very ornate box that you can pay 200 HUF to make it light up so you can see his mummified hand. Slightly morbid, but this hand has been stolen and returned and now is in it's rightful place so people get excited.
As Steven can attest to! I actually went inside solo while Jocelyn waited outside with our drinks and then we were to switch. Mom's that was the ONLY exit!!! No kidnapping danger and no chance of being sold into slavery. I didn't originally go into that particular room and opted to go back in later with Jocelyn and Steven. Jocelyn decided she didn't want to wait and headed right in. She feels that she's a trailblazer and had to see the crumpled hand. She was actually originally looking for a cup because I had said that there was a chalice and she assumed that I had meant a cup. I had meant that it was a container of some sort and I was unaware of what was inside at the time. Jocelyn found a box instead and this box had a hand. She says it was the most disappointing search for the Holy Grail. So she announced what she had found when she came back out and I rolled my eyes and we went to wait for Steven. He showed up two minutes later and after finding out what was in store inside, he asked if we could push lunch off for ten minutes and go in. He needed to see the hand.
So we walked around and took in the amazing architecture, paintings, gold moldings and stain glass and wandered to the small room (which was three times the size of my apartment in college) to see the hand. Jocelyn even paid for it to be lit up. And let me tell you, it went from being a room with maybe five people in it to a room with about thirty guests all with cameras and video cameras snapping shot after shot of this hand.
So we left, grabbed lunch at Hungarian Chinese buffet (which was NOT a buffet and contained french fries in the chicken concoction but was bizarrely delicious) and Jocelyn and I finally set off on the Hop On Hop Off tour. Before doing so, Steven bought a ticket for the night cruise we were going on and said he would meet us there! So we toured the sites by bus only (again, amazing pictures to come) and then went back to meet Steven.
The night cruise was at Sunset and it was amazing. We sailed passed Parliament, the Fisherman's Bastion, the Citadel and several bridges. And all of the stories from both tours we took today seemed to center around different people committing suicide. Unsure why this was such a large focal point but there you have it.
So that ties up our night! Tomorrow we head back on the tours to take the day trip on the water and then we will actually visit the Fisherman's Bastion and the Heroe's Square.
We hope you've enjoyed this blog and I deeply apologize for the rambling novella this turned into!
See ya soon!