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Published: August 10th 2019
Crossing the Chain Bridge.
On reflection, this dress wasn't great on a windy day!
The first thing to mention is that I am on a three-week trip with one cabin-sized case, as I want to travel as lightly as possible. I remember from my student interRailing days how important this is. The steps up to European trains are generally high, and you often to have to store cases on high racks. So I recently had treated myself to a new Samsonite Paradiver cabin case. It is perfect for this trip - it is a spinner i.e. four wheels, it is a cabin bag, so fairly small, and it is BRIGHT yellow. This is an excellent choice from a crime prevention perspective. An offender is much more likely to walk off with an inconspicuous black case. For this trip I decided to give packing cubes a go, and I am already a convert! They are brilliant. I know where everything is. All my clothes are rolled (like a professional packer!) And they fit inside the case perfectly. Usually I unpack my case wherever I stay; not now. Things stay in the
I just liked this!
correct cube. And i shall be doing the same when on tour next year. I can't believe I have never used these before. I thoroughly enjoyed my full day in Budapest. I had a semi itinerary in that I wanted to see all the places that our tour guests see when they do the tour here with the local guide. I am hoping to meet up with as many as the local guides as possible on this trip, as it makes life a lot easier when I am there with a group. Sadly Eva, our Budapest guide, is away at the moment but she did leave me a list of places she takes the guests to. The Barceló Hotel is brilliantly located in Király Ut, very close to the Deak Ferenc Ter with the big wheel, and close to St Stephen's Basilica. I ignored the big wheel (have done the London Eye and the one in Prater, Vienna - of the Third Man fame, and that's enough!). St. Stephen's Basilica is impressive from the outside and so is the square. From there I walked to the Castle area and along to Fisherman's Bastion and Matthias Church. It was heaving with
Brilliant views from here.
tourists here and with good reason as the views are just wonderful. There is a concert advertised at Matthias Church for the evening after I have to leave which is such a pity as it looks brilliant. From here I walk down the steps in the other direction as I want to find Déli station - it is not the main international station, but it is the one I need for my next leg to Zagreb. I also need to print out my ticket. You can't print these from the internet. You have to collect them from the station. I can't grumble at this. The ticket cost a mere€15 for a five-hour trip. I used a website called The Man in Seat Sixty One which has brilliant tips for travelling all over Europe. I printed my ticket, checked out the metro for the next day as it's four stops from my hotel to this station, and headed back to the city centre. I called into the Mercure Hotel next to the National Museum as this is where we shall stay next summer with the group. I wanted to check out the check-in procedure for a group, where the coach stops,
Through the looking-glass
what a typical bedroom looks like, what other amenities there are etc. This hotel is also well located - close to the Great Market area, the national museum and the main shopping street, Vaci Utca. I had a wander round this area then headed to the Jewish Quarter and the Grand Synagogue. The synagogue is the largest in Europe and apparently the second largest in the world, holding approx 3,000 people. The Moorish style is very distinctive. In the winter they use a side building, as it gets so cold, although they broke this tradition when the Obamas came on a visit. I went into the synagogue and joined an English-speaking group. The guide was warm and passionate, and really explained a lot in 40 minutes. Much of this time we were inside the synagogue, and then he led us out to the graveyard in the beautiful courtyard, and to the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial Garden and the Emmanuel Tree of Life. At the end of the tour I wandered down into the cellar to see the exhibition there about the Holocaust. By this time it was late afternoon and I decided to continue this theme and walk back to the
Emmanuel Tree of Life
Each 'leaf' is inscribed with the name of a Jew who lost his/her life
Danube as far as the Parliament buildings to see the Shoes on the Danube Bank exhibition - 60 pairs of 1940s-style shoes, true to size and detail, and made from iron. This was also extremely moving, although I knew from friends what to expect. Approximately 20,000 Jews were shot along the banks of the Danube. Victims were forced at gunpoint to remove their shoes (a valuable commodity during WW2) and face their executioner before they were shot, their bodies falling over edge to be washed away by the freezing water. The shoes are placed in a casual fashion as though people had just stepped out of them. I was moved to see how respectful people are, especially younger people. I had a reflective walk back to the Chain Bridge. I needed a break now and chose an outside table on Zrínyi Utca, the street running towards the Danube from St Stephen's Basilica. Here I enjoyed some Hungarian food and wine and lots of people watching - families and couples dressed up and wandering down this lovely street on balmy evening.
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