A Danube-led tour of Budapest
Back on the tram, carry on to Parliament where here are guided group tours. The most interesting sight is the Holy Crown of St Stephen, directly beneath Parliament’s dome, but there are also excellent views of the river. Note the brass cigar holders for Parliamentary deputies on the window-ledge, from a more tobacco-friendly age. On the grass next the building is the seated statue of Attila Jozsef, one of the country's great 20th Century poets. His poem, By the Danube, won him a place next to it for eternity.
On the north side of Parliament, near the tram stop and next to a delicatessen, is the hard-to-find patisserie, Szalai (Balassa Balint u 7; 36-1-269-3210)). This cafe has fed generations of protesters with divine treats like the meggyes retes (cherry strudel) and the Svajci kifli, which is a solid croissant-like pastry with icing sugar on top and ground walnuts inside.
The final stop is Margaret Island, in the middle of the Danube. This can be reached by the 4 or 6 tram, both of which stop on the middle, or is a short walk from either bank. There is a swimming pool, a small outdoor zoo, several cafes and hotels, and the island is a favourite sunbathing place for the city inhabitants. It is a great place to take children for a walk and an ice-cream or go for a run.
Nick Thorpe is the author of ‘89, The Unfinished Revolution, a memoir of Eastern Europe. His next book, Danube, will be published by Yale University Press in 2012.