2018 Bucharest to Amsterdam

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July 21st 2018
Published: January 26th 2019
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7-21-18 Saturday. Budapest. We started the day with a bus trip through Buda, the hilly half of the city on the right bank of the Danube up to the St. Steven’s Cathedral, the famous and beautiful Neo-gothic cathedral on the hilltop with a stunning view of Pest across the river. The line to get tickets to enter the cathedral would have taken up almost half of our designated one hour visit to the area, so we decided to just admire the exterior. Around it is a gorgeous public space with medieval-style towers and long balcony (Fisherman’s Bastion) on the edge of the hilltop and cobbled-stone streets with many storefronts serving the plethora of tourists. Our guide had neglected to say how interesting the palace area is, but just pointed in that direction and said “the palace is there,” where there was restoration going on and an almost feautuless, lawn, so we didn’t saved much time for it. But beyond that area was a large plaza, a beautiful carved stone gate, a huge bronze statue of an eagle with its wings spread, and a flight of stone steps leading down to the large neo-classical palace. The fountain there has a sculpture of youthful figures struggling to hold a big fish. We rushed to get a quick look before returning to the bus pick-up point. Next stop, Pest, at Great Market Hall, the huge covered market with large arched windows, patterned yellow and red brick walls with white stone details and two towers with steep red, green and yellow patterned tile roofs. Freedom Bridge was a block away, closed to motor traffic on Saturday. I walked half way across for views of the banks and to get photos of the beautiful buildings, the peace monument atop the hill in Buda, the Gellert Hotel (famous for its natural hot baths), the distant palace and a close-up of the coat of arms high on the bridge. Next we drove around Hero’s Square and the adjacent City Park with the zoo and beautiful Széchenyi Thermal Bath, never leaving the bus. The return drive was down Andrassy Avenue, known as the Champs Elysees of Budapest and looked the part. After lunch on the boat, Simon and I walked over to St. Stephen’s Basilica where we were allowed to look inside and take photos from an area just inside the doorway. We walked to Liberty Square where there is a statue of an angel and a monstrous threatening eagle above with the year of the Nazi invasion around one leg. It was installed by the current right wing nationalist government. Local opponents of the government say it is a whitewash of Hungarian collaboration with the Nazis and they have left messages, photos of people who were taken by the government and other artifacts.. One is a picture of a man and little girl with the caption “My father Wieder Henrik was sent in 1942 to the copper mine in Bor, Serbia as forced labor serviceman. He perished there in 1944 due to the brutalities of Hungarian guards. He was 33 years old.” A nearby neo-classical building, Nemzeti Bank, has beautiful relief carvings in stone of workers of all sorts and heads representing different ethnicities. The U.S. Embassy is on the park, a steel fence all around, steel gates and devices that rise up from the street to prevent a vehicle from crashing in. The building next door has large imposing metallic roof decorations. Down the block is the Hungarian State Treasury, a beautiful art nouveau building with beehive shapes along the top of the facade and a Gaudi-like sculpture protruding from the roof. Nearby is the House of Hungarian Art Nouveau, another art nouveau beauty. On the way back to the boat we paused to admire and take photos of the famous Neo-gothic Hungarian Parliament Building. Nearby is Shoes on the Danube, metal sculptures of shoes memorializing those killed at the river, mostly Jews, by the fascist Arrow Cross militia during WWII, Budapest. The victims were made to step out of their shoes by the water’s edge and were then shot so that they fell into the river.

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2nd February 2019

Thank you Will...these bring back so many memories.

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