Saint Stephen's Basilica, Hungary's largest church, took more than 50 years to construct. Upon its completion in 1905, it was considered such a sturdy structure that during World War II, important documents and artworks were stored in it. (courtesy photo)
The view from the terrace above St. Stephen's Basilica offers a wide panaoramic view of Budapest. Saint Stephen's Basilica, Hungary's largest church, took more than 50 years to construct. (courtesy photo)
8/17/2012 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Budapest should be on everyone's bucket list of places to visit before leaving Aviano. The city has a rich history with a little something for everyone. There are many history and art museums, family friendly attractions, a great night-life scene, and for a truly relaxing weekend, the famous Turkish spas located throughout the city.
After arriving in Budapest around 9 a.m., my visit began with a guided tour of the city. The tour consisted of two parts, each dedicated to the former cities of Pest and Buda which merged in 1873 to form the current capital of Hungary.
The tour began on the Pest side of the city. The most awesome sight on the Pest side, in my opinion, was St. Stephen's Basilica, mostly due to the terrace that offers breath-taking views of the entire city. There is a small charge to get to the terrace, but it is well worth the price. Other sights you are able to enjoy on this side of the city are Hero's Square and the Statue of Anonymous.
The conclusion of the tour of Pest brought me to an indoor market, where a traditional Hungarian lunch sat waiting to be eaten, and I must say, the goose leg is fantastic.
After a quick break for lunch and shopping, the guide escorted the tour group to Buda to complete the tour. The first stop at Buda was the amazing Matthias Church. The building is a beautiful white structure with colorful porcelain tiles that construct the roof. This stop also offers great panoramic views of the city.
A stop worth mentioning would be at the foot of Hungary's Statue of Liberty, also known as Szabadság Szobor.
The next day, I explored Budapest on my own. With so many things to do in Budapest, it is to choose how to spend your time. Since I am a bit of a history buff, I decided to spend my second day at the Museum of Terror. This place offers a very insightful look into a dark era of Hungary's history. The museum was the once home of the dreaded Allamvedelmi Osztaly (AVO), Hungarian Secret Police who were known to imprison, interrogate and torture protestors in the late 1940s. If you are interested in World War II, I would strongly suggest making this one of your stops.
Budapest is a great place for families with kids as well. On the side of Pest you will find the Budapest Zoo, the circus, a water park, and a theme park. All of these attractions are literally right next to each other. Moms, this would be the time to spoil yourself and let the husband handle the kids as there is a wonderful Turkish spa within walking distance of these attractions.
My trip to Budapest was full of amazing experiences, and made very easy, thanks in part to the Aviano Information, Tickets and Travels Office, who coordinated the trip.
For a list of upcoming trips offered by the ITT office, subscribe to the Compass at www.Aviano.af.mil, or Call ITT at 632-5072.