Saturday, September 17, 2011

Downtown in Hungary

Jane and Lance live part time in Budapest. I know little of Hungary. I knew a Hungarian man once. He lived in Melbourne, and although he was a poor immigrant, he met a private school girl on a tram and married her and decades later they are still married.

Ok, I do know a little. The Danube River divides the capital of Hungary, with Buda, what was the German populated area on the western side, and Pest on the eastern side of the Danube.

Some people like to pronounce Budapest as Budapescht. In my opinion, as a rule we English speakers should stick to English pronunciations unless perhaps we are in a country that pronounces places differently to the English.

Now Victor was in Budapest earlier this year. I remember he posted some photos of trams plying the streets of Budapest.

Ah, I see that Budapest, like Melbourne and Amsterdam, also has German made Combino trams. Yuk. But good to see they also have bought some Combino Plus trams, which are far better.

Anyway, the authority on Budapest trams is a chap who uses the name Hamster. If he doesn't know everything about Budapest's trams, then I doubt anyone does. His excellent amateur site goes by the title of Ham Page: Tram Hikers Guide to Budapest. The Budapest tram network was much reduced after the collapse of the Soviet Empire, but it is still quite extensive and well patronised. Hmm, tram routes 4 and 6 service the busiest tram line in Europe. It runs along the Grand Boulevard, and by some photos I have just looked at, it is a very grand boulevard indeed.

All very interesting, to some. Well, I am not writing a travel guide to Budapest. What interests me? Oh, a cog railway. It takes you up into the hills to the west (it only took me an hour to establish where the cog railway actually runs). It looks like great fun. I just watched one You Tube video of the the train curving and climbing up the hills in what appears to be summer. It's a very pretty trip among the greenery. Ah, here is one of it operating in winter, which answers my question as to whether it snows in Budapest. Quite pretty with fresh snow and laden tree branches.

Did I just see mention of a funicular somewhere? More fun. It travels up to a place called Castle Hill. I suppose there is a castle atop the hill. As the video proves, everything that goes up, must come down again.

Ok, here is a photo of le grand boulevard de Budapest. Looks pretty ok hey. While world is an extraordinarily interesting place, I find it good to focus on one small part of a city.


  1. Hello Andrew:
    First, thank you so much for your very generous link to our blog. We were delighted to see our names up in lights!!!

    Next, the matter of trams. The Siemens Combino trams only run on the 4 and 6 routes which only go along the Grand Korut...not to be confused with the Grand Boulevard, or Andrassy Street which you picture. Andrassy runs from the centre of downtown Pest to Heroes' Square and does not have a tram route along it. However, running underneath it is the Foldalatti which is Europe's first underground railway.

    The cog wheel railway is wonderful, a gift from the Swiss and runs even in the deepest of snow drifts which regularly fall in winter in Budapest. It connects at its furthermost point with the Children's railway, a proper railway running along the Buda hills and operated in all respects apart from the engine driving by children, a legacy from the Young Pioneers days.

    The funicular railway does run up Castle Hill to the Castle at the top which just for confusion used to be the Royal Palace once upon a time.

    For completeness, we should mention the trolleybuses which are many running throughout the city and start at no70.This was because they were introduced on Stalin's 70th birthday and so no trolleybuses have a number lower than 70.

    In our view, the public transport in Budapest [which we always pronounce Budapesht as s is sh in Hungarian]is fantastic and is free [including the trains] for every EU citizen over 65.

    Goodnight, dear Andrew and Happy Weekend!!

  2. Andrew

    my husband is Czech. He came to Australia with his parents in the 1950s but I didn't meet him till the 1960s.

    After the Iron Curtain fell in the Eastern European nations in 1989, 1990 ish, my mother in law decided to take us back to her childhood and marital homes, so that we could perhaps find something of her European life. Prague was wonderful, just as I expected.

    But why did we go to Budapest? My mother in law and her sister survived the Holocaust by hiding in Budapest. They had already learned to speak Hungarian before the war, and apparently learned to love their new city.

  3. Thanks for the extra information JayLa. I think the Children's railway has been featured on tv here. What wonderful trivia about the trolley buses and no will to undo the history. Although some Australian cities had them, I know little of them. R has experienced them back in England. I think of them as neither fish nor fowl. Europe does seem to do public transport well. As EU citizens, you have free travel to look forward to when you reach the age of 65 :-P

    Very interesting Hels. Love to read an expanded memory of your visit and your mil's response to familiar or not familiar places.