Budapest Day 2 – Rain, History and tired legs.

After a really good nights sleep we made it down for the excellent buffet breakfast at 09:30 am.  Although it would be another day of walking, I did managed to restrict myself to only going up twice.

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Note the staff uniform of checked shirt – makes a nice change

With so much to see on our last day, there was no hanging around, bus tickets in pockets, umbrellas and our best foot forward we stride out in the rain.  First stop was the brilliant concept of the Szimpla Farmers Market http://en.szimpla.hu/farmers-market. You can’t miss this place as outside the entrance are various objects from mis matched chairs, an old motorbike and side car and various brightly coloured plastic objects.

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Door of the Day

Once in side, the ground floor is where on a good day between 30 and 40 local farmers are selected to sell their produce ranging from spices, cheeses, vegetables and breads.

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Upstairs you can sit and listen to the live music and enjoy a Sunday brunch prepared from the ingredients being sold in the market. It was popular at 10 am but unfortunately we really don’t have the time to stay any longer.

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Making our way back toward the Danube river and the Houses of Parliament we pass several buildings whose gabled ends have been adorned with art work. The first we came across was the Rubik’s Cube, whos inventor, Erno Rubik was from Hungary. (It was Andy who provided this bit of information.)

Not sure what this one was about but looks good

Continuing on we pass the Tree of Life Memorial in the garden of the Great Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter. It was designed by Imre Varga in 1991 and paid for by the late American actor Tony Curtis for his Hungarian-born father Emanuel Schwartz.

Tree of Life

The Tree of Life stands over the mass graves of those murdered by the Nazis in 1944-45 and on the leaves of the tree are inscribed the family names of some of the hundreds of thousands of victims.

After lighting a candle for my Nana in St Stephen’s Basilica we move on through Liberty Square where a controversial memorial was erected during the night on the 20th and 21st July 2014.

The monument was ordered by the government of Hungary without any consultation with the people of Hungary. Critics of the Monument, which has Hungary represented by the Archangel Gabriel, being attached by a German Imperial Eagle, feel that it appears as if the Hungarian State and Hungarians have been exonerated of their active role in sending some 450,000 Jews to their deaths during the occupation and are rewriting history. As a way of silently protesting people have been leaving pebbles, personal items, photos and documents.

Arriving at the banks of the Danube we stop and admire another statue. Hungary has so many, this one is of Attila Jozsef, who is one of the best know modern Hungarian poets and wrote “By the Danube” earning very little and starting to show signs of schizophrenia it is believed he either committed suicide or died from a terrible accident when he was crushed by a train starting whilst he was crawling along the railway tracks.

We turn and make our way towards Chain Bridge. But first we take time to reflect at one of the newest monuments and one I really wanted to visit. The Shoes on the Danube. It is a very poignant memorial to the memory of the victims, many of who were Jewish, who were lined up on the banks of the river so when they were shot their bodies fell into the river and were swept away, removing the requirement of graves to be dug. As they lined up they were ordered to remove their shoes as they were a valuable commodity that could be reused or sold.

We continue along the bank reflecting the sadness of such atrocities and how fortunate we are. The grey skies and damp day seem very poignant. Dodging muddy puddles we arrive at the start of Hungary’s first permanent bridge across the Danube know as “The Chain Bridge” built by a Scottish engineer and opened in 1849 .

Still walking off the extra calories consumed at breakfast we forgo the funicular and instead walk up Castle Hill to the old town of Buda on the west bank.

We had timed our arrival just perfectly, unbeknown to us the changing of the guard in front of the Presidential Palace was just about to take place. It is a short ceremony not much hype made of it but was nice to witness.

By now it is really pouring with rain, so we take a short rest in a cafe overlooking the square next to the Presidential Palace and treat ourselves to one of their local dishes – a slice of apple strudel.

At 1,800 HUFF per person to enter, we decided to give it a miss, and just wander around the outside of Matthias Church and with the weather continuing to deteriorate it was a dash from turret to turret before giving up and making our way back down via Buda Castle.

This afternoons agenda was a visit to the Gellert thermal baths, but by the time we had caught the bus and made our way there it was gone 6pm and with the baths closing at 8pm this would realistically only give us an hour in the water. So we remain on the bus and give our legs a rest. Perfect excuse to re visit Budapest. We will just make it a priority when we do return as I am sure we will be back although next time in the spring.

Walking back to our hotel we pass the Cat Cafe. The owner of the cafe has various breeds of cats including Main Coons and rescued cats. They wander around the cafe, sitting on tables and enjoy being cuddled. What a great way to reduce stress.

Its a short soak in the bath instead before we get dressed up and head out again, its about a 20 minute walk to Matula Bar Bistro where we have a lovely authentic Hungarian meal, starting with Goulash Stew, a first for me.

Love the quirky lampshades

Monday morning arrives all too quickly and it is time to leave. We have had a lovely break if a little damp at times. It is another squeeze to get us all on the airport shuttle bus and no chance of anyone else getting on at the next two stops. Luckly, we manage to get a seat again. Security is once again a bit of a shambles having to walk from one end of the departure hall to the other as the correct gate we should go through is too busy. Now I am worried we will end up in the wrong place but thankfully both gates merge into the same departure area with plenty of shops and cafes to while away the time, as I like to be everywhere early, so we now have a few hours to wait. I hate being late for anything. Before long we are landing back in Gatwick airport and head over to Wagamama’s for tea and then our flight back to Jersey. It has been a wonderful break and hopefully not too long before we manage to visit another European city and then it will be time to get Bella prepared for her six sunny summer months in France.

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