We are creatures of habit. Breakfast is always taken in the Morning Room, Afternoon Tea is served at 4pm, we have patronised the same butcher for seven years and every Sunday, after church, we can be found in our favourite cukrászda indulging in coffee and cake. And, on good weather Fridays, more often than not, we travel, picnic in hand, to Ezstergom.
|the so called 'Cat Stairs' which lead up to the Basilica in Esztergom, a town on the Danube|
For, Friday is market day in this attractive town, nestling on the banks of the Danube, connected by the Mária Valéria bridge to Slovakia and dominated by the magnificent Basilica which defines Esztergom as the centre of the Roman Catholic Church in Hungary. The market traders bring a welcome touch of colour and a reminder of everyday life in this town which is besieged in summer by tourists invading by tour buses and river cruisers.
|the Mária Valéria bridge which spans the Danube linking Hungary with Slovakia|
|the Basilica dominates the town from its hilltop situation commanding wonderful views|
On our most recent visit we did not make our usual uphill pilgrimage to the Cathedral, concentrating instead on the glorious Baroque and Classicist architecture to be found amidst the cobbled streets of the centre of town.
|a typical street scene in Esztergom where houses hug the hillside above the Danube|
Everywhere one turns, mellow stuccoed walls in pastel shades speak of an elegant past, intricately forged ironwork celebrates the craftsmanship of masters of that trade and shoals of students scurrying from one school building to another proclaim Esztergom to be a seat of C21 learning as well as a Royal Seat for two centuries, the seat of the Constitutional Court of Hungary, and a seat of religious devotion for 1000 years.
|a monk hurries about his business passing a fine Baroque building in the centre of the town|
|a glimpse through an open doorway of an apartment building reveals a distant shady court|
|suited students, on their final day at school, make their ways to attend a last assembly|
Our picnic was taken in the shade of a magnificent Plane tree, one of many which form a splendid avenue along a side canal of the mighty Danube beyond. These glorious, ancient trees stretch their sinewy limbs to create a dappled canopy over an inviting promenade, thoughtfully punctuated by elegant iron fronted seats which tempt one to rest, to linger, even to put the world to rights.
|an ideal picnic spot in the canopy of an avenue of Plane trees alongside a Danube canal|
We sipped iced lemonades on the terrace of a stylish café, we browsed amongst the nooks and crannies of our favourite second hand shop and we walked, wandered, strolled and sauntered through the labyrinths of small streets, peering into any open doorways or courtyards which afforded a closer look.
|delicious iced lemonades, an ideal drink for a hot day in May, taken on the terrace of a café|
|the exterior and entrance of our favourite 'Használt cikk', second hand shop, in Esztergom|
|one of very many fine buildings of different architectural styles to be found in Esztergom|
And, all too soon, the lipstick red metal bullet, which was our train, sped us back to Nyugati Pályaudvar [Western Railway Station] in Budapest. Here an altogether different cathedral awaited. Made of iron and glass, designed by Eiffel of Parisian tower fame, Nyugati Pályaudvar is a monument to a golden age of steam transport.
|departure board at Esztergom station indicating the 17.10 train to Budapest from platform 4|
|the Esztergom - Budapest train, a very new introduction to the line, and proving very popular|
|a corner of Nyugati Pályaudvar designed by Eiffel and largely built of steel and glass|
A Basilica to the Divine, a Cathedral to human achievement, all in the space of a single day!