Sufficiently recovered from our heavy club night introduction to the city, we were ready to get to know it in a more sober sense with some aggressive sightseeing. We woke up before dawn on our second morning in Budapest and rode the tram across the Danube to watch the sun rise over the city from Castle Hill on the Buda side. The best place to do this is incontestably Fishermen’s Bastion, an ornate kind of panoramic promenade that wraps around Matthias Church and offers some great views of Pest, including the stunning Parliament building. The pristine white-stoned structure and it's seven towers (each symbolizing one of the seven Magyar tribes that originally settled the area in 896) , parapets, and climbing stairways coupled with the orange light of the brand new day made for a fairy-tale like scene which we relished in for quite some time. What did the early bird get this time? No, not the worm… The early bird got to witness this beautiful sight in the peaceful absence of all the other pesky, chattering birds and their elaborate selfie photoshoots. You can take that one to the bank.
After checking out the castle area of Buda, including the quite wonderful Hungarian National Gallery art museum, we headed back over to a trendy area in Pest (the former Jewish District) which is home to most of the city’s ruin pubs, along with a bunch of good restaurants, street art, and hip storefronts. The ruin pub culture is an unexpected and enchanting bud growing on the city’s tumultuous history. Oppressive regimes, failing economies, and times of war had left some of the older buildings in the city center ruined and gutted. More recently, entrepreneurial young people cemented a future for these buildings by making them into amazing, garden-style pubs and art centers. The first one ever constructed is also one of the city’s most famous; It’s called Szimpla Kert, and pictured here is the lively scene unfolding during its Sunday farmers market. We love enjoying the fruits of those who have seen opportunity in ruin and made something unique out of it. We recommend doing a self-guided ruin pub crawl to have a beer at as many of them as you can.