Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Linda's Travel Journal: Part 3 (Budapest, Hungary)

Submitted by Linda
So I have to agree with our new friend and tour guide Pieter, that Budapest is the best kept secret in Europe. Okay, he didn't really say that, but he did talk about how everyone has heard of Prague, and how the tourism industry promotes Prague. Yet, I found that Budapest is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen! If you don't believe me, see below:
This photo was taken during our "illumination tour" of the city.
Below, the building in the top left is the Matthias Church, known for it's thousands of diamond shaped tiles on the roof.
I love the craftsmanship of the rooftop tiles!
One thing that amazed me, throughout our trip, was the realization that as an American, my ancestors and I have faced very little political unrest, compared to many of these European countries. Here in Budapest, people have had to deal with all the issues related to the World Wars, Communism, and also, in many cases, were illiterate.

One clever strategy to compensate for the illiterate, was to tell stories and history in picture form. The photo below shows Hero's Square, which was started in 1896 and finished in 1929, and was built in honor of the 1,000 year anniversary of Budapest (1000 years-the USA is not even close to 1,000 years!). All the figures and reliefs tell the history of Budapest. We were so lucky to be here first thing in the morning, before the crowds arrived.
Another landmark in Budapest is the Freedom Statue, which is a prominent feature of Budapest's cityscape. It was first erected in 1947 in remembrance of the Soviet liberation of Hungary from Nazi forces during World War II.

At the time of the monument's construction, the repulsion of Nazi forces by the Soviets was considered a liberation -- leading to the original inscription upon the memorial, which can be translated to read "Erected by the grateful Hungarian Nation in memory of the liberating Russian heroes."

After the 1989 transition from Communist rule to a more democratic government, the inscription was modified to read (translated from Hungarian) "To the memory of all of those who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom, and success of Hungary."

My photo does not do it justice. The statue is a female figure holding a palm branch. The locals call it the worlds largest bottle opener.

No American travel journal would be complete without a McDonald's photo! This McDonald's is in a building designed by Gustave Eiffel.....as in the Eiffel tower in Paris. Here is the outside....
...and the inside. I'd like to report that since it was well over 100 degrees, I had to have the hot fudge sundae!
Our hotel there featured "modern rooms surrounded by historic design". I don't know when it was built, but the lobby featured a strategy to support the non-readers. Notice the huge diagram, showing which floors of the hotel provide parking, resaurants, and so on. Even the elevators had pictures by the floor numbers. As a kindergarten teacher, I love how the environment supports the non-reader!
We managed to squeeze in some shopping, and a "must-have" from Hungary is Hungarian Paprika. Here we are with the Bixbys, shopping for Paprika in the indoor covered market. So, it was over 100 degrees, and here we were, indoors, upstairs, no air conditioning!
As for shopping, my wish was to buy an embroidered tablecloth. Those of you who know me, know that I love love LOVE linens, and practically believe that it's sacrilegious to have a party (even an outdoor bar-b-que) and not use a cloth tablecloth. So despite the crazy heat, I did make a purchase at the booth shown in the picture below. I'll be sure to post a picture of the tablecloth later on (probably when the boys move into their college dorms, and there's no chance of them dumping ketchup or pizza sauce on it!)
Next up, Vienna, Austria. Stay tuned.......

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