12:35 am CET
Today was incredibly fun. It was Rachel's birthday, so I put on my fearless leader/tour guide hat and basically arranged an itinerary for the day. We met in Deák Ferenc tér around one and made our way to Szent István Bazilika (making this three visits for Jacob, two for me, and the first [obviously] for Rachel). On the way, since none of us had eaten lunch, we stopped at a small chinese restaurant. Once finished, we continued on to the basilica and went inside to look around. We weren't permitted to go into the main sanctuary of the church, however, because a wedding was being held. We watched the bride and groom walk down the aisle and head outside before following them and continuing onward toward the river.
We walked to the Danube and crossed the Chain Bridge, walking to the base of Castle Hill so we could take the little lift thingy that takes passengers up and down the slope. While waiting in line, we saw yet another bride and groom, though this time they were coming down the hill path after a photo shoot at the castle. The view from the top is gorgeous, so we took a quick break to absorb it all. After sufficient soaking in of the scenery, we walked around the southern part of the hill and checked out the several souvenir stands (I bought a flute from this old Hungarian guy; he seemed pretty cool). We went into the castle, but opted to look around the gardens outside instead of paying to meander indoors. Following our brief encounter with the restored Budai Vár, we walked to the center of the hill to see the Mátyás Templom (Matthias Church). Again, we decided to simply look rather than buy tickets to go inside, and we took a break for some coffee and soda.
When we finished, we walked just beyond the church to the Halászbástya (the Fisherman's Bastion), which is a series of stone towers built along the original medieval fortifications of the city on the hill. The terraces and towers provide a beautiful view, so we spent some time wandering. We bought some ice cream (I got raspberry-vanilla) and began our descent to Moszkva tér, where we were to have dinner at this traditional Hungarian restaurant Batsell had mentioned while he was here. On the way down the hill, we passed another church and yet another wedding. Everyone in Budapest was getting married today, it seems.
Once down that monster of a hill, we walked the short distance from its base to the restaurant. I can't remember its name (something with a trombone), but we found it without trouble. We walked in, sat down, and ordered dinner. The mountain of food we each received was almost unbearably good, though I'm fairly certain that none of us finished all that we had ordered because there was so much. After dinner, we took the six back to Móricz, bought some wine and chocolate from a 24-hour ABC (a tiny convenience store; they're all over the place), and went to my dorm room to watch a movie.
After the business of today, I'll need a good rest for tomorrow. We're going to the Zoo! Yay!!