June 20, 2015 – Budapest

I have so many pictures and the connection is so slow!

Today started off with a tour of the city by bus and on foot. Budapest is a remarkable mish-mash of 19th century buildings, parks, memorials, and Communist architecture (if you can call it that.) We board the bus and listen to our guide, Gyorgy, explain everything we are seeing. It is a lot to take in.

Peg and Ted ready for the tour of Budapest
Peg and Ted ready for the tour of Budapest

19th century spa
19th century spa

Our first stop is at Heroes Square, a statue complex featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and other important national leaders. It was built in 1896-1900 to commemorate the thousandth anniversary of the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin and the foundation of the Hungarian state in 896. It is dedicated “To the memory of the heroes who gave their lives for the freedom of our people and our national independence.” We wander around the immense square taking pictures of it and ourselves. Unfortunately for the Hungarians, their heroes often gave their lives in a losing effort or on the wrong side (World War I.)

Heroes Square
Heroes Square

John at Heroes Square
John at Heroes Square

Mary at Heroes Square
Mary at Heroes Square

Peg and Ted at Heroes Square
Peg and Ted at Heroes Square

Back on the bus we continue our ride through Pest, the lower city. We pass through the Jewish quarter where almost a million Jews lived at the beginning of World War II. More than three quarters of the Jewish population were killed by the Nazis. About 100,000 live in Budapest now. We see the memorials of the Weeping Willow with each frond inscribed with the name of a victim near the synagogue and the memorial, Shoes, near the Danube. Sixty Jews being protected by the Swedish Embassy were taken at gun point ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. The iron shoes represent the shoes left behind on the bank.

Metal Weeping Willow inscribed with names of victims at the Jewish Memorial
Metal Weeping Willow inscribed with names of victims at the Jewish Memorial

Shoes, a memorial to 60 Jews shot January 8, 1945
Shoes, a memorial to 60 Jews shot January 8, 1945

We continue up to Buda, the hilly part of the city across the river. We visit the St. Matthias church and the Fisherman’s Bastion with views of the river and Pest.

St. Matthias Church
St. Matthias Church

On one of the spires is a raven which was the heraldic animal of King Matthias.
On one of the spires is a raven which was the heraldic animal of King Matthias.

Time for lunch!

Originally John and I were going to go on a tour of the Jewish quarter but it is not be given today because it is Saturday (Shabbos.) Then we were going to go to the St. Stephen’s Basilica but it closed at 1 PM. We decide instead to take the Opera House Tour. The Opera House is small but quite ornate and we are treated to a performance of selections from Carmen and The Marriage of Figaro.

Budapest Opera House
Budapest Opera House

Performance
Performance

We meet Peg and Ted at the lounge before dinner. They have taken the optional Equestrian Tour and are very pleased with their visit to a local horse farm.

Time for dinner!

After dinner we are treated to Budapest all lighted up as we start our departure for Bratislava. It has been a busy and wonderful day!

Leaving Budapest at dusk
Leaving Budapest at dusk

Peg and Ted at dusk
Peg and Ted at dusk

It's chilly! Mary and Peggy huddle in blankets.
It’s chilly! Mary and Peggy huddle in blankets.

Palace in Buda lighted up at night
Palace in Buda lighted up at night

The Parliament in Pest at night
The Parliament in Pest at night

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