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Budapest Hungary Parliament
budapest old woman
Sandor Palace guard
Royal Palace statue
snow-covered lads budapest
budapest snow
budapest snowy car
Budapest sculpture
Budapest tram
budapest bicycle path
Chain Bridge
Chain Bridge lion
Chain Bridge bicyclist
snow footprints
Holocaust Memorial
Woman winter clothes
Castle Hill funicular
St. Istvan's basilica
protected statue
snow city worker
kerepesi cemetery flowers
kerepesi cemetery
kerepesi cemetery
Lujza Blaha tomb
Miklos Bartha
kerepesi wrapped statue

Snow day: Budapest, Hungary

Fisherman's BastionMy walk down Castle Hill to a Metro stop has become so familiar over the years of my visits to Budapest. This morning, though, it’s a bit more treacherous.

A couple of inches of snow had fallen the day before, and had frozen overnight. It’s only in the 20s today.

Along the cobblestone street between the Hilton Budapest and Matthias Church to the picturesque Fisherman’s Bastion. Down the 142 steps of the landmark, dodging workers chipping away at hard-packed snow and ice. I hold onto a handrail, which means walking on the slicker edges of the steps. Still, it’s safer than going down the center with nothing to grab if I slip.

At the bottom, I cross Hunyadi János Way near its hairpin turn, then go down 26 more slick steps at the bastion’s base before crossing the street again.

Budapest Trabantwindow snow smileyDown the Blackberry Stairs — 52 of them. Across Toldy Ferenc Street, where a familiar old Trabant station wagon has been parked for years. It greets me this time: someone has written “HELLO” in the snow covering its windshield. Cars nearby have been similarly tagged with happy faces and hearts.

Donati utcapekingeseNext, 16 more steps — literally a slippery slope in a pocket park down to Donati Street. This little park is a favorite with dog owners, and today is no different. An elderly woman is taking her Pekingese for a stroll. The long-haired pup is having a blast burying its nose in the snow before coming up for air, its snout still flecked with flakes. I continue along Donati Street, a sloping, curved lane paved with bricks, to the Donati stairs. Yes, another 68 steps down. Castle Hill is steep.

XyxyxyxyxDonati stairs More workers with shovels and pails of sand chip at the ice coating the steps. About halfway down, well-fed stray cats usually crowd a landing to eat the fancy feasts placed by a good Samaritan. But it’s even too cold for them to be out this morning. I reach the bottom of this final stairway and wind through the workers, turn left on Iskola Street, make a right on Székely Street, and then a left on Fő Street. After a couple of blocks, I pass the Church of St. Anne and cross the street to the Batthyány tér Metro station, with the Parliament building in the background on the other side of the Danube. From here, I have a ticket to go anywhere in the city.

Chain Bridge lionHolocaust MemorialAnd I do. Over to the Pest side of the city, where a Holocaust memorial is on the bank of the Danube north of the Chain Bridge. The 50 pairs of bronze shoes mark the spot where Hungarian Jews were lined up and shot during World War II. Sometimes they were tied together, the falling bodies pulling those still alive into the water to drown. Snow has collected inside the shoes.

It feels colder near the river. Footprints along the path at its edge have melted and refrozen. I climb stairs to the base of the Chain Bridge, where the ornamental lions appear stunned by the snow and cold.

Further into the city, more workers carry shovels along main sidewalks and squares to combat ice patches. Overall, people seem sure-footed. I did not see a single fall all day, and I stayed upright too. Main squares are largely free of tourists. Some statues are draped in plastic to protect them from the elements. All around the city, construction is in progress, hopefully to be finished in time for the high tourist season. Workers don’t get a snow day.

Kerepesi cemeteryKerepesi cemeteryMy final stop on this day is familiar too: Kerepesi Cemetery, a 150-year-old treasure that isn’t found in many guidebooks. I thought I’d have the place to myself, but people still walked its main avenues to admire the elaborate markers and tombs, and to enjoy the quiet. I have visited here on each stop in Budapest, but the snow gives me a different perspective.

I wander for more than an hour as the sky turns a darker gray and a more flurries begin to fall. I am thoroughly frozen when I leave and head to a nearby Metro stop to return to my warm hotel room. The climb back up Castle Hill is a bit tougher.

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