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It is one of the grandest panoramas in all of Europe. Every first-time visitor to this city should be brought blind-folded to the Royal Palace Gardens and have the scene below dramatically unveiled before their eyes. Knowing you won't go along with that, I sggest you hurry across the bridge from Pest and ride the funicular with unseeing eyes, because the view from the top is one worth or. It is picture perfect. The Danube, 100 - 130 metres wide at this point, is spanned by the majestic Chain Bridge. Sightseeing and cargo boats slide lazily by, and maybe a hovercraft on its way to Vienna at a faster clip. On the far shore church spires rise from the Old Town, and picturesque Parliament Buildings reflect in the steel grey water. On this Buda side, medieval residential streets zig-zag up the hill to the glorious Matthias Church crowning the summit.

Budapest is all pleasure for visitors. Divided by the river, patched with areas banned to motorized traffic, it defies even jet-lagged travellers to get lost. Citizens exude a joie de vivre, and passion for culture And there is romance in the air, on a riverside walk at night when bridges are outlined by thousands of tiny lights, and in gypsy violins that serenade in almost every restaurant.