Paula and I took on the role of dinner-arrangers, squeezed between our dash to see as much as we could in a short time. Sorry, God, we missed mass again, but if walking is praying with your feet, we clocked up some brownie points in heaven today. Twenty-one kilometres in a day was pretty good training for the Camino, and we saw amazing things, enough to put Budapest on the return list some day. It has a good public transport system and history to burn.

We started with a walk down to the river to the memorial to some of those Jews killed in the 1945 pogroms, shoes on the Danube, a touching and thought-provoking sculpture facing the castles and churches of the old city across the river. All that architecture would be little comfort to the victims of the Hungarian fascists who perpetrated the crime.


In a different mood, we walked as dismissively as possible past the Danube cruise-ships — having rejected the idea of a river cruise when planning the trip and very glad we did — and admired the Chain-Bridge on the way to the funicular and the castle. We didn’t dare go in the museum, as we might never have emerged, because the day was short and the itinerary long.


Photos around the castle, the church and Fishermans’ Gallery (?) were followed by a wander along the river and a trip over the bridge past Margaret’s Island — I’m not even going to attempt the Magyar while I am off line — and a pit-stop in a really funky bistro near the station (some promising redevelopment evident there).


We then meandered at a reasonable pace down the shopping strip, past the Opera House, suitably romantic but invaded by the Japanese, who have obviously replaced the Russians as an occupying power (especially as they only move around in battalion-sized groups) and on to St Stephen’s, which might not be the biggest church in Christendom, but is certainly one of there finest late baroque edifices you will find — had to laugh at the architect glitch, so common a tale on this journey, where the competitive streak of the architects led to the collapse of the original dome when they decided to upsize halfway. They’d obviously never been to McDonald’s.

We footslogged through the town to the Jewish Quarter — I think one has to do this in Hungary as an act of homage and recognition — and found the synagogue and museum to be both enchanting and heart-rending.

I haven’t told the half of what we saw, but we were plumb-tuckered by five pm and ready for a break, before our final dinner, which was a triumph. It is hard to explain how involved with our companions we had become, and deeply appreciative of what each had offered the group during the tour. It is hard to imagine that we will be able to keep in touch with all of them, but we will certainly have find memories and excuses to go visiting (especially Alberta).