Monday, November 19, 2018

Budapest (Parliament, Dohány Street Synagogue, Great Market Hall, Memorials)

On our last full day in Budapest, we toured some of its Pest attractions with an organized tour and then walked around much of downtown Pest looking at statues, monuments, and parks.

We started the day with an organized tour of three attractions in Budapest. The first stop was the Budapest Parliament Building.

Although we were able to view the Holy Crown of Hungary with the sword and scepter in the Budapest Parliament Building, photographs of them were not allowed and they are under guard.

There is a visitors center at the end of the tour that has an interesting replica of the building.

This is the view of the Danube River from the Parliament Building.

The courtyard surroundings near the Parliament Building are also scenic.

We would later return to the Parliament Building without the tour group and the following photographs are from that later, sunnier time in the day.

After the Parliament Building tour, our tour group went to the Dohány Street Synagogue. This is an active synagogue, but is part of a larger complex with cemetery, museum, and Raoul Wallenberg Holocaust Memorial Park. The experience here is one of physical beauty, but which brings to a mind an ugly, horrific time.

The tour group next went to the Great Market Hall Budapest. There were lots of vendors selling meats, vegetables, pastries, clothes, and much more. There were also many locals there shopping and, of course, many tourists. The upstairs section, where most of the dining establishments were, was particularly crowded. Seating areas to eat were at a premium and the woman who worked (owned) the small place we ate lunch constantly warded off non-customers from sitting in front of her small kitchen area.

The Memorial to the Victims of the German Invasion is somewhat controversial.

The shoes on the Danube may be the most sobering, touching, and moving of the World War 2/Holocaust-related memorials in Budapest. About this monument, the Wikipedia article states the memorial was created to "to honour the Jews who were killed ... in Budapest during World War II." That article further describes what happened, "They were 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. It represents their shoes left behind on the bank.

There is a statue of Ronald Reagan in Budapest commemorating his part in helping end the Cold War.

Although most of our trip was on the river cruise ship, we spent the last two nights in the Hilton Hotel Budapest City.

I am happy that we were able to be in Budapest for three nights (two in the hotel and one on the ship). Even with the extra time in Budapest, we did not get to see everything, but we saw a lot.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Budapest (Sunrise/Sunset, Lady Liberty Statue, Aquincum)

Because we spent our first night in Budapest on the river cruise ship (our last night on the ship), we had the opportunity to see sunrise on the Danube River in Budapest.

After disembarking from the cruise ship for the last time, we boarded the bus for our half day in Szentendre. On our way there, we made a stop at the Liberty Statue (Szabadság Szobor or Statue of Liberty).

The hill upon which Liberty Statue resides provides more stunning views of Budapest and the Danube River. Our (now former) Gate 1 cruise ship is in a couple of these photographs, which shows how convenient its port was to Budapest.

Although we did not have the opportunity to stop there, we were able to see the ruins of the Roman City of Aquincum from the bus.

After returning from Szentendre and checking it into Hilton Hotel Budapest City, we took a short night cruise on the Danube River. We had seen the splendor of Budapest as we cruised into Budapest on the Danube in the morning, but this was an excellent complementary experience because it allowed us to see the city on the river at night. Sadly, my photographs don't do it justice.

Even with a decent chunk of the day spent in Szentendre and checking into the hotel and walking around downtown Budapest, we still got to enjoy the beauty of the sunrise on the Danube River, the Lady Liberty statue with its views, the ruins of the Roman city, and a gorgeous evening cruise.