Szia! Welcome to Hungary, world's capital of paprika, where an incomprehensible language is spoken, and the country that gave us John von Neumann, Robert Capa (Friedmann Endre Ernő), and Michael Curtiz (Kertész Mihály).
(As a side note, Hungarians use the reverse name order, hence Kertész Mihály rather than Mihály Kertész).
Budapest surprised me! I expected something grey and sorry like Warsaw or Bratislava, but the capital of Hungary turned out to be
a beautiful and impressive city - with a soul, so to speak. It is a pleasure to see a Central European city, once on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain,
becoming itself again, and regaining its pride and splendour.
Also, what I believe to be one of the most beautiful songs of the 20th century is a tune by a Hungarian band called Omega, and the song has a catchy title
Gyöngyhajú Lány. I can't understand a word, and all I can hear is "you got, eat head, cute for your eye [...] la la la la la la!".
Seriously though, do listen to it, the song is lovely, and the title means "The girl with pearly hair".
"It's my birthday, and I want a room with a view!"
Yoko and I booked this room, right at the Beautiful Blue Danube, with a view of Buda Castle,
and the bathroom even played classical music. How much more European can it get, I ask you?! No, not much.
Let us begin the sightseeing on the other - western - side of the Danube, where the so called Castle Hill is. The place was severely damaged in WW2, and has been subsequently restored,
to become a popular tourist attraction.
As for the picture, this Roman Catholic church, the Matthias Church, used to be a mosque at one point, and is quite an interesting place to visit due to its distinct decor. 
Yoko with her little Japanese guide book - I don't know why she even had it, as I had to plan everything.
Anyway, it was only in 1873 that the cities Buda and Pest became one city (together with Óbuda); the western side of the Danube is Buda. 
This area used to be a Jewish Quarter before the Holocaust, and just nearby is the Great Synagogue - currently the largest synagogue in Europe,
and it was also built in the Moorish Revival style.
(Compare this to the Moorish style synagogue in Brașov, Romania.)
Its architect, Ludwig Förster, believed that no distinctively Jewish architecture could be identified, and thus chose
"architectural forms that have been used by oriental ethnic groups that are related to the Israelite people, and in particular the Arabs". 
The synagogue from the outside. The Dohány Street Synagogue is another name for the Great Synagogue, but it's also an umbrella term for: the synagogue,
the Heroes' Temple, the graveyard, the Holocaust memorial, and the Jewish Museum, built on the site where Theodore Herzl's house once stood. 
I mean, doesn't it look pleasant? The city is pretty clean and often feels like Vienna (which is understandable, as both cities were once
together the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). It's also safe and not very busy, at least the parts I visited. People often speak some English,
especially younger ones, so one can get around more or less comfortably.
The Basilica was pretty impressive, and you get a nice view from the dome. Yoko and I went there for an organ concert as well.
And inside the Basilica there is a... true treasure, some might say...
But first, what's that red vehicle doing there?
This is the treasure. The right hand of Stephen I or St. Stephen, the first Christian king of Hungary,
who died in 1038. His hand is actually on display behind glass, and then paraded about once a year,
which is not pagan at all. 
Hungarian is impossible to follow, it didn't sound like anything familiar to me. I had a list of compliments in Hungarian
("Nagyon szép vagy", is that even correct?), and by the end of the stay I sort of mastered "thank you" ("köszönöm").
Otherwise I might as well have been deaf. "Busz" is one of rare examples easy to figure out, almost everything else is incomprehensible.
Hungarian is a member of the Finno-Ugric group of the Uralic languages, which means it's not even an Indo-European language.  Well, that explains it.
"Hungarians are the only people in Europe without racial or linguistic relatives in Europe, therefore they are the loneliest on this continent. This
perhaps explains the peculiar intensity of their existence. Hopeless solitude feeds their creativity, their desire for achieving... To be a Hungarian is a collective neurosis." -- Arthur Koestler.
These, on the other hand, are the ruins of the Ancient Roman town of Aquincum. According to Wikipedia, "it is believed that Marcus Aurelius may have written at least part of his book Meditations at Aquincum."
The city had 30 to 40 thousand inhabitants by the end of the 2nd century AD, and had public baths, stalls, temples, etc.
Historically, the territory of Hungary was often under occupation, be it Roman Empire, Ottoman Empire, Austrian Empire, the Nazis, or the Soviet Union. This building
introduces us to the two most recent occupations.
It used to be
the headquarters of the Communist Secret Police , and is now called House of Terror, a museum that contains exhibits related to the fascist and communist regimes in the 20th-century Hungary.
It also serves as a memorial to the victims of these regimes, some of which were tortured and killed inside this very building. 
Some notable Hungarians however argued that the museum portrays the Hungarians too much as the victims, and fails to recognise the contribution the Hungarian people made to
the regimes in question. 
One can only wonder when the Russian Lubyanka will become a similar museum.
This represents the Iron Curtain, which used to denote the division of Europe after WW2 until the of the Cold War in 1991. Hungary was on the unfortunate side of the Curtain.
The inscription on the side of this memorial reads:
"Shall we live as slaves or free men?" (Sándor Petőfi)
It isolated the East from the West
It split Europe and the World in two
It took away our freedom
It held us in captivity and fear
It tormented and humiliated us
And finally we tore it down
The failed Hungarian Revolution of 1956 was the first major threat to Soviet control over this part of Europe. In this picture,
on the wall of the building, you can see portraits of some of the people killed as a result of that Revolution.
For an actual physical representation of the Curtain, see the Berlin Wall.
... And this is what I got in my way. Yoko and I even tried to unanchor it so that it would float away, but we failed. How selfish of those people
on the boat - but that's travel photography for you.
See what that place looked like just after WW2.
This is the largest building in Hungary, and the tallest building in Budapest - the Hungarian Parliament Building. Its construction was completed in 1904. I must say
it looked very impressive, and with its magnificence it perhaps symbolises the political ambitions of Hungary. 
There's a labyrinth you can go to, and it's located under the Castle Hill. It's not really a labyrinth but a series of tunnels and cellars, not too spooky.
The whole thing is almost 10km long, but you can only visit around 1.5km of it. 
The labyrinth is also where Vlad Ţepeș was held captive - that's the historical Dracula.  What you can see in the picture
is allegedly his tomb, but in reality his resting place is unknown. I have briefly described the historical Dracula in my Transylvania gallery.
What's so special about this street? This is Pál utca - the Paul Street. This is where the famous novel by Ferenc Molnár entitled The Paul Street Boys was set.
Coming there was a big thing for me, and I was surprised to find out no one else really cared. Oh, how I cried as a child when Nemecsek died.
Actually, this children's book is likely a satire of European nationalism before the outbreak of WW1.