Sightseeing with children II.

Discovering the city with your little one(s)
Visiting the popular and hidden gems of Budapest with kids might be easier than you think, as great adventures are waiting for the family following the course of public transportation.
Green and welcoming in the middle of the Danube, Margaret Island is a peaceful haven for families. One can never tire of the beautiful environment, it’s a perfect setting for picnics, badminton matches, promenades or relaxation. Children are dabbling by the fountain, climbing on the ruins of the ancient monastery, they admire the little zoo, or feed the ducks in the pond of the Japanese Garden. But must-see places are waiting for us on the Pest side of the river, so after spending a serene morning at Margit-sziget, let’s catch a tram, and discover what Pest is holding for us.

Probably the kids are too young to remember the American television series Columbo (starring Peter Falk), but for the parents who were once fans, Jászai Mari tér offers a pleasant surprise. At the corner of Falk Miksa utca, there is a bronze sculpture of the Lieutenant, standing in his characteristic posture, with the raincoat and the cigar, his basset hound watching him at his feet. Unveiled in 2014, it is a popular selfie spot among locals and tourists ever since.

After we can hop on the tram no.2, and the journey begins. The next station is Országház, látogatóközpont: it is recommended to get off, and continue on foot. The Parliament Building and its surroundings are one of the most spectacular areas in the city, where the adults can admire the breathtaking architecture, and the kids can have fun in Olimpia park. The whole terrain is ideal for taking pictures or simply having a nice time in the large community spaces.

If we ramble towards the river and follow its course on Antall József rakpart, a memorial will appear soon before our eyes: the Shoes on the Danube Bank, a poignant souvenir of the victims of the Arrow Cross terror, where anybody can light a candle or deposit a pebble as a sign of remembrance.

If we hop on the tram again at Kossuth Lajos tér, the next advisable station to get off is Eötvös tér, from where we can start walking alongside the river towards Vigadó tér. 100-year-old Kossuth Museum Ship awaits visitors nearby, being the only paddle steamer which survived in its original form in Hungary. On the boat there is an exhibition of interesting navigation relics. The vessel's fully preserved steam engine and paddle are displayed together with is steam powered "steering wheel", so we can look back on the glorious past of Hungarian navigation. Admittance is free. The ship also accomodates a restaurant, so one can always complement the instructive experience of the museum with a relaxing moment of indulging in the tempting dishes served at Vén Hajó.  

If we continue our walk, we see the famous concert hall Vigadó, a beautiful example of neoclassical architecture, with a rich cultural life, hosting concerts and exhibitions.  An other well-beloved attraction is waiting for us, sitting quietly on the balustrade separating the tram rail tracks from the Dunakorzó: the statue of the Little Princess, inspired by the sculptor Marton Lászó’s own daughter, caught once while she was acting like a princess with a paper headdress and a dressing-gown. In the background, on the other side of the river, we see the dignified building of Buda Castle

If we continue traveling by tram, it is recommended to get off at Fővám tér, and admire Bálna: the glistening whale-like shape is visible from far away, as it reflects the rays of the sun on its glass surface.  
Bálna is a commercial, cultural, entertainment and leisure centre. A popular meeting point too, on its Terrace there’s a cheerful mediterranean ambiance which makes it a great summer outing venue. It has a unique way to create an intimate contact with the Danube. The building alone combines the architectural traits of different eras, and functions as a cityscape element.
Also, Bálna serves as the home to Budapest Gallery, which exhibits Hungarian and foreign contemporary art. There is a marketplace offering a wide range of bio-products, antiquities, and everyday tools that represent the recent aesthetic values. And, of course, one can enjoy the air of the Danube, the sunshine on the terraces, the unique panorama, and the fresh gastro-cult odours: it is a place for unlimited experiences. 
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