While Ajay took Carmelo and Giselle to Rudas Baths, I decided to to check out the top of Gellert Hill. That meant getting Kenzo and Lui to walk with me. Unfortunately, we had lost one of Lui’s shoe on the subway, a common theme on our family sabbatical, so he had to be carried. But Kenzo was keen to walk, assuming there was ice-cream at the top.
I decided to start the outing with a sugar high at the cafe in the Baths, and some water. We walked to the base of the clifff where there is an artificial waterfall. The mist from it helped to cool us in the 30 degree heat. It was a slow trek up to the top of the waterfall where a statue to St Gellert (St Gerard) is converting the Barbarians to Christianity. Yes, Barbarian is the official term for the invaders from the region of Germany.
As it turns out, Bishop Gerard was rolled in a barrel down Gellert Hill… to his death. After King Stephen made his kingdom Christian, they saw Bishop Gellert as a martyr and made him a saint.
It took us one hour to walk to the top with lots of stops along the way to enjoy the beautiful bush walk and the variety of birds singing, even with the sounds of traffic below. Each lookout had views of the stunning city.
I still couldn’t believe Kenzo walked the whole way. When we reached the top, there was a fort in front of us. We searched for the promise of ice-cream but found none, so I headed for my ultimate destination which was the Liberty Statue on the cliff edge. She is an awesome statue that looks out over Buda and Pest. I was so glad I hauled my little two up there. We found the ice-cream wagon, sat down and rested for a while. Kenzo was fascinated by one of the statues which had a guy wrestling a four headed dragon.
Liberty Statue and her two side-kicks, Evil and Progress, were built by the Soviets when they freed Hungary from Nazi Germany. The lady herself holds a palm leaf above her head as a symbol of bringing peace. The dragon on her left represents fascism. The statue of Progress depicts a guy holding a torch.
This is the only communist statue remaining in it’s original place. All the others were moved to Momento Park. The difference is that in the 1950’s when Hungary freed itself from Soviet dictatorship, they changed the inscription on the plaque to commemorate Hungary’s fight for freedom, peace and justice.
We wandered a little round the citadel but given it was 7pm, the fortress was closed. But the view looking out over the other side of Gellert Hill was tranquil. The hill itself was covered in a lush green park, and beyond it was a forest of bright green trees that stretched over many hills.
We headed back down the hill to find dad, big bro and big sis. Kenzo and Lui were now missing them, and our meet up was at 7:30pm. It took us only twenty minutes to get back down the hill. This time there were far less people so it was quieter. As we neared the bottom, the traffic noise grew louder, welcoming us back to the base of the waterfall.
I was surprised that Kenzo still had energy to run around when we stopped for pizza on the other side of the bridge.
While Ajay and Carmelo headed to Széchenyi Baths, Giselle, Kenzo, Lui and I went to the Budapest Zoo.
We were all excited because we enjoy seeing all sorts of different creatures. I hope I don’t put you off zoos but what I saw at this zoo, put me off zoos for life. And it’s not just me, the four star rating on trip advisor is misleading. Most of those reviews mention the poor conditions of the enclosures and the… urgghh, writing about it makes me feel sick. The number of animals that looked like they were on death’s bed – or perhaps Giselle and I wished they were close to death, so that their misery would end.
Although we visited this zoo, I do not recommend it. Yes, my two little ones enjoyed seeing polar bears, penguins, a camel, a petting zoo, snakes and much more, but it was with a pit in my stomach that I moved from enclosure to enclosure. We take it for granted in Auckland that the Auckland Zoo is so well maintained, and I have been guilty of complaining about the expensive NZD36 price tag per adult. But I will not complain again, and I hope Auckland Council fund the zoo even more so that they enhance their already great job they are doing at upgrading the lifestyle of each of the animals.
I wish the worst problem I had with the Budapest Zoo was that it does not accept cards at any food stalls, which meant we had to leave the premises for lunch. But it is much worse. Possibly because it is too cheap so they do not have the funding to take care of it properly. But, in my opinion, it is because they do not care enough to change these awful conditions.
Lets start with the smell. Most animal enclosures stink. Not a bad smell, but a foul stench that makes you want to puke, especially given the heat where the smell is accentuated.
We saw sickly rhinoceroses, a sick camel, sick polar bears, and sick sea lions.
The creatures that should have been in icy temperatures such as the polar bears, the penguins and the sea lions, were in blistering heat with no shade available to them, and disgustingly dirty pools that would be smaller than the pool in your friend’s backyard.
Most creatures had a tiny enclosure and the big ones were acting mad: pacing up and down, swaying their head back and forth, lying on the ground lifeless or staring blankly into space. Some enclosures were overly populated.
There were hardly any natural features such as trees for the creatures to enjoy, and no stimulation for any of them. We barely saw any staff, except at the food stalls and the entrances.
Do not waste your money going to this zoo. It’s sad and sickening. Kenzo and Lui could see how sad the rhino, the camel and the polar bears are, and they’re only four and two years old.
Instead, if your partner has gone to enjoy Széchenyi baths, take the kids to the amazing Széchenyi Park. It features a beautiful pond, lots of shady grassy area for them to run around, fountains, statues, awesome playgrounds, great eating places and even a massive trampoline.
It also has a palace, a museum and a castle. I wish we had spent those precious hours in this park. My kids would have had a better time and my conscience would be clear. If you get the chance, then take the kids here, not to the Budapest Zoo. They will love it.