Saturday, May 8, 2010

Budapest, Hungary: Friday lunch at McDonald's

I deserved a break today. I was hungry from walking around the Leopold Town sector of Pest. And my tourbook indicated that I was about to reach an historic McDonald's. The location seemed to be a block or two north of where I was expecting it to be, but I nevertheless I went inside and ordered my meal.

Turns out I was in the wrong McDonald's. A couple of blocks away, this was the one I actually wanted:

Oh well. In 1988, this was the first McDonald's to be opened behind the Iron Curtain, right in the heart of Budapest. A veritable symbol of western decadence! Apparently, the lines were quite long (although, still be communist, the population was probably used to standing in long lines).

I had ordered a large French Fries and a diet Coke. As a symbol of western infiltration into the heart of socialism, this is one place where using the unfortunate term "Freedom Fries" would have been not-so cloying.

After wolfing down the fries and diet Coke, I continued my walk through Pest. I reached the Danube and saw this whimsical little piece of public art:

Here's a view of the Royal Palace, up a hill on the Buda side, as seen from the waterfront area of the Pest side:

BTW: Regarding the name "Pest." The name is somewhat apropos as this is the city of gnats! I haven't seen many, if any, bigger bugs, but there are thick knots of gnats everywhere. I guess they feed the birds.

I continued on past the very photogenic Chain Bridge -- Széchenyi lánchíd in the language that no one outside this country understands -- which is probably the third most photographed feature in Budapest after Parliament and Zsa Zsa Gabor:

The bridge is guarded by lions, two on each side. They're there to symbolize the strength of Hungary:

Crossing the bridge to the Buda side:

Castle Hill is in the background. Note the famous Turul Bird statue about one-third the way in, from the left side. Here's a full-on view of the bridge from the Buda side:

Although my hotel room does not look directly onto the Chain Bridge, I can see it from my balcony. Again, they gave me the signature views of Budapest! All for a $10 upgrade!

Which, BTW, here's my hotel from across the water:

It's the longest building along the river between the two spires.

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