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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Budapest on 9/15: Shoes on the Danube, Reagan and the Holy Right Hand

The 15th did bring at long last a let up in the rain that had been dogging us for so long, so off we went to see a few sights on the Pest side where we had been the day before but also to visit the Buda side for the 1st time. Our first stop was the Great Market Hall, one of the biggest tourist attractions yet mostly serves the locals. It's a gigantic marketplace on 3 levels, produce, meats and other foods on the ground floor, souvenirs and kitsch on the 2nd floor and apparently pickles in the basement but we didn't see them! As you can well imagine, it has Hungarian paprika of every degree of spiciness, in oodles of sizes and forms: powder, paste type etc. We love markets and hadn't seen many this trip so far so going there was a special treat for us.

The item in the middle that looks like a towel is tripe. Wonder how you cook it and what it looks and tastes like when cooked!

I just wonder who came to mind when we saw this adorable
Steven bought one of these little pizzas for only a dollar.

From the market hall we walked across Szabadsag Bridge, one of Budpaest's many bridges, to the Buda side of the city. Below, Steven eating his yummy pizza on the bridge.

St. Istvan in Hungarian is St. Steven, probably Stephen, but it's close enough, huh! Walked over to the funicular to ride it to the top of Castle Hill.

The emblem was on one of the fortified walls next to the funicular.

 Views of the Pest Side across the Danube, including the spectacular St. Istvan's Cathedral, going up the funicular.
Sandor Palace atop Castle Hill: Nowadays, it functions as the Office of the President. More castle photos below.

There had been a huge wine festival on Castle Hill on the weekend so we were unable to see all the buildings at their finest.

Below is Matthias Church, known officially as the Church of the Virgin Mary in Buda Castle; originally built in the early Middle Ages and serving as the coronation church of several Hungarian kings.

The model of the Church was done in Braille.

Directly across from the church is the Fisherman’s Bastion. Built between 1895 and 1902, it occupies a portion of the old walls of Buda Castle which was defended in the Middle Ages by the guild of fishermen. Its 7 spires represent the 7 chieftains of the Magyars who conquered the land that was to become Hungary.

A falconer

View of the Parliament Buildings in Pest through the arch.

More of the Fishermen's Bastion and its towers above and below.

Even though we didn't go into the museums, the church or atop the Bastion on Castle Hill, we felt we'd had our fill after a couple of hours of wandering around and got on the tram back to the Pest side of town via the Chain Bridge.

It was the 1st permanent structure to connect Pest and Buda. In urban legend, its emblematic stone lions have no tongue and the tunnel that leads to it under Castle Hill serves as a person’s home. Photo of the bridge below.

The lion in greater detail! Then walked along the embankment on our way to the Parliament Buildings.
Imagine the scenic view of Castle Hill from a riverboat. Not too shabby, I'm thinking!

Darlene: Please tell Diane I was thinking of her when we saw the Viking River Cruise Boat!
Never seen a bench you can lay your legs on before.
How incredibly sobering coming upon the shoes as we walked on the embankment and knowing of their significance.
Called 'Shoes by the Danube:' The sculptural installation of shoes on the embankment outside Parliament is a memorial to those who were shot and their bodies thrown in to the Danube toward the end of WWII. It was created in 2005 for the 60th anniversary of the Holocaust in Budapest. I know we have seen many powerful memorials to Jews this trip but seeing these shoes, some of them children’s, was particularly shocking.

Parliament Buildings: The gothic revival structure was erected on the Pest bank of the Danube between 1885 and 1904. 24 kilos of gold was used to embellish the 2nd largest parliament building in Europe. We were totally overwhelmed at the size and would love to know and visit the largest. The lovely Parliament Buildings in Ottawa look like a doll house in comparison. 

In front of Parliament was this moving memorial of the 1956 Hungarian uprising against the Communists.
Zachary: for you!

Still in front of Parliament.

Pretty reflecting pool
Hand in hand with his pal Ronnie!

Then walked over to the heavily criticized and very controversial 'Memorial for the Victims of the German Occupation' that was put up three months ago, in the dead of night because of civilain protests against it which are still ongoing nightly. The memorial was to consist of  2 figures: the empirical eagle of Germany and Archangel Gabriel symbolising the innocence of Hungary during WWII. But Hungary was in alliance with Germany until 1944 and that is why protesters want to build a memorial that is historically accurate and Jewish survivors of the war, their descendants and sympathising citizens have brought their mementoes, personal objects, photos and candles as a 'Living Memorial to Remembrance.'

I wonder what will come of the existing memorial and protests over time.
 St. Stephen’s Basilica, the largest Roman Catholic church in Budapest, was our next stop. Steven was a little fatigued by this point (don't understand why!!) so he decided to rest his weary bones on the steps while I went inside. Our plan after that was to go on a 2.5 hour Communism Walking tour of Budapest so resting up was a good idea.

The Basilica is also home of a national relic, the Holy Right Hand, which is the mummified hand of the 1st Hungarian king. I'm sure you just can't WAIT to see it!

Anyone hungry?! Photos from a food stall.

Haven't seen this one before but it got a chuckle out of me.

Vaci Utca: During the Cold War, it was the 1st place in the Eastern Bloc where you could buy a Big Mac or Adidas sneakers. Rick Steves describes it as an overrated, overpriced tourist trap disguised as a pretty street. We only bought lovely big and cheap ice cream cones at the Burger King while waiting for our Free Communism Walking Tour to begin so were happy.

Steven wanted the caption to read: 'Me and my buddy; we have to rest every chance we get!'

I'm going to bail on you, I'm afraid, about the Communism Walking Tour. Suffice it to say it was more of a history lesson, than a walking tour, about Hungary, its citizens and leaders during the Communism era as well as info about education, medicine, current living condition, etc for Hungarians. Fascinating but too overwhelming to go into here