Budapest: A Tale of Two Cities…

Soren Kyhl Travel

… divided for centuries by the Danube river into Buda (the city of the west) and Pest (the city of the east). As a brother who shared a room for fourteen years of his life, I can only imagine the amount of medieval carnage exchanged between those two cities. Eventually, they had an awakening and joined forces in 1873, when the Hungarians realized political cooperation could, one day, build their city into a tourist destination large enough to attract a men’s choir from Indiana…


By some miracle, the founding Hungarians were successful in their mission and in 2015, I found myself capturing the city through the lens of a camera and experiencing the sights which now make it the 6th most visited destination in Europe. With such a wealth of attractions to highlight, I think the best way to share the two historic halves of Budapest might be through a photo tour.  Let’s see how it goes:


1) One half of a whole-


This is just one of the spectacular views offered by Budapest, seen from the western (Buda) side of the Danube. Here you can see across the river into Pest, the flatter business district which is home to numerous eateries, monuments, and political buildings. Budapest has strict high-rise legislation, so skyscrapers never really caught on here…


2) A monster mash-


St. Stephen’s basilica dominates the skyline (visible in the first picture) and is home to several memorable relics, including the HAND of St. Stephen. Yes, the entire thing, clenched in a fist just aching to break out of its souped-up glass prison and start handing out miracles left and right (or maybe just left).


check out that fancy gold leaf bracelet…

Sidenote: We paid good money – 50 euro cent – to light this bad boy up.


3) Are we at Disney?


This is the Parliament building, which sits on the eastern bank of the Danube (also visible in the first picture), looking dramatic and imposing awe only comparable to  Hungarian Disney Propaganda, if that even exists. It’s impressive from all sides, and even has a choreographed changing of the guard that is just asking for an accompanying fireworks show.

4) An Old Friend…


Just down the road from the Parliament, we met up with Ronald Reagan, who has fled political fire in favor of thousand-year-old hands and tin-man street performance.


5) To the other Side-


We now cross the historic chain bridge to arrive in Buda, Pest’s more hilly residential cousin that also features:


A 50 foot tall monument situated on high cliffs which drop off into the Danube. It’s Buda’s way of saying “Even though we’re one city now, we’re still better than you.”  Spoken like a true older sibling.


The Disney Castle 2.0 (also known as Fishermen’s Bastion) where we lounged during the afternoon.


And this Church just behind Disney Castle 2.0 where we sang for a lively (mostly tourist) crowd, lured from their seats at Fishermen’s Bastion by a short outdoor pre-concert concert.


sidenote: The interior of this place is pretty spectacular, too. check it out on google streetview (direct link).

The concert itself was a really incredible experience.  And yes, I know that all of our writers so far have said that, but really, it was!  It was our largest and most enthusiastic audience up to that point, and when we closed with a piece by Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, they went absolutely bonkers.  Seriously.  We tried to leave and they called us back for an encore.  It was amazing, and an incredible way to end our experience in Budapest.  It was a city (or pair of two cities, for more old-school readers) that captured our imaginations, turned our stomachs over, and pretty well qualified us to perform at the real Disney… maybe next spring? Looking at you, Daniel Le.


Soren Kyhl is a rising sophomore studying Chemical Engineering.  A Des Moines native and resident of Fisher Hall, Soren also serves as the head of Glee Club Publicity.  If you’ve got any feedback about this blog series, or just want to see what Soren’s up to, shoot him an email at


This is the fifth post in a twelve part series chronicling the Glee Club’s recent tour of Europe.  Check out the next post, Nick Barella’s experience in the musical capital of the world, Vienna!


If you’d like to see more photos from Budapest, swing by the Flickr album


Soren KyhlBudapest: A Tale of Two Cities…