I must say that we have really enjoyed Budapest from many different perspectives. Over the past few days we have seen most of the major sites, the Buda Castle, The Gellert Baths, the Parliament building, St. Stephens Basilica, the Dohany Synagogue and the National Museum along with the marketplace. We walked a lot, met some really nice people, ate some very good food and this city is just physically beautiful. You stand on the Buda side of the Danube and you see the skyline of Pest, which includes the St. Stephens Basilica and the Parliament building. Both of them are just breathtaking to look at. You stand on the Pest side of the river and you see the Buda Castle and cathedral on the Buda side.
We have been told that Prague is a smaller version of Budapest, so I’m looking forward to spending 10 days there and getting to know the city. We spent most of today walking around the city. Noah said his iPhone clocked us walking about 9 miles, and I’m pretty tired. We started the day heading south from our apartment to the National Museum where they were having an outdoor fair for all the museums in the city. When we first arrived they had a booth set up with ancient armor that soldiers wore in battle. The person manning the booth started showing Noah the different layers that they wore and started putting them on him. First, they put on the chain linked “shirt,” which Noah said was really heavy. Then they put on the headpiece made of the same material. Noah looked like he was going to fall over.
After the museum fair we walked over to the Central Market Hall and walked around. We had visited the market on Wednesday but didn’t walk through the upstairs or downstairs. Ilise did some reading after we were there and said we had to go back, so we did. The place was enormous and we did find a few good things to eat. We left the market and started walking toward the Parliament building near the Margret Island Bridge. It was a pretty long walk but the weather was just wonderful. The sun was out all day and it was not too hot, just about 75 degrees. On our walk the kids said that they were really hungry, imagine that, two teenagers hungry? So, we found a small burrito shop near St. Stephens and had some lunch.
After lunch we walked into St. Stephens Basilica which was extremely beautiful. We have seen a lot of cathedrals on this trip and this was in the top 20% that we have seen. It was extremely large and the artwork and marble were just breathtaking. I continue to marvel at the amount of time and energy has been spent building religious buildings around the globe. After the church we walked over to the Parliament Building, which is the 3rd largest in Europe. The building just seems to go on forever when you are walking along it. We talked with one of the guards and the building was closed to visitors today because of an international summit that was taking place.
We headed to the river to find the Shoes on the Danube exhibit, which I found to be very moving. This exhibit was designed to commemorate all the Jews who were shot in 1944 – 1945 and dumped into the river. The Nazi’s took over Budapest in 1944 with no resistance at all. It seems that the government of Budapest was anti-Semitic in the 1920’s, well before the Nazi’s. So, when Hitler asked for their cooperation toward the end of the war they jumped in and opened their doors. In the end the Russians liberated Hungary, that’s why they became a communist country for decades. The Hungarian culture is a rich one and I am so glad that we added Budapest to our list of cities to visit.
After seeing the shoes we walked back to our AirBnB apartment to relax and Ilise packed so we can leave early tomorrow for our 5 hour drive to Prague. Drew was able to complete a lesson in geometry and I was able to take a nap for a few hours. It has been a very full week and I’m looking forward to our next stop. We will be parked in Prague for 10 days so we will have lots of time to see.
To a life well lived!