Budapest.

14 Oct

The Communist Gray skies could not extinguish the beauty of this magnificent eastern European city, though surely it tries.  A paradox of the senses is Budapest.  IMG_3675On the one hand it is truly beautiful to look at.  The ornate and opulent Hapsburg era Parliament building and cathedrals are just the most obvious examples, and the Buda Palace all take your breath away.  But as you get ready to once again inhale, you are frozen by the stories of Hungarian complacency and feigned innocence and death and destruction during WWII and beyond.  We have spent two days in this city, which I would recommend to all, and perhaps to spend a total of four, all while learning about Hungary’s rich but tormented history in the last 150 years.  No history lesson here, but suffice it to say that, as several tour guides have remarked, “we could have done more.”

It is a walking city and despite the continuous rain we’ve had, we’ve managed to put a few miles under our soles.  The Danube River (replete with Viking River Cruise boats) separates the hilly Buda with the Buda Castle and the President’s Palace from the flat and architecturally rich Pest side.  Hence together BudaPest.  Several bridges connect the sides with the most notable the Chain Bridge just at the center of touristic District V connecting to the Castle.  As most notably in Paris, many european bridges have become full of small padlocks placed by lovers to signify their commitment.  The appurtenances of the Chain Bridge are too thick to affix a lock to, but, as always, love finds a way.IMG_3682

A bit further down river, on the Pest side, is a tribute of a different kind.  During the harsh winter of 1944 into 1945, 9 months after the Nazi’s occupation of Hungary began with out a single bullet fired, just one of the means of disposing of jews was to line them up on the banks of the Danube and shoot them into it late at night.  Occasionally someone survived to tell the tale of this practice and in 2005, a memorial consisting of sculptures of shoes was erected at the river’s edge in tribute and memory.IMG_3686

Such small but meaningful tributes dot the city’s landscape.  Here, a statue of Miklos Radnoti, a Hungarian jewish poet who, when sent on a death march toward a concentration camp with no way to write, is alleged to have penned his final poem in his own blood.IMG_3687

Perhaps the most fascinating, and for me troubling, of the memorials is the one the Hungarian government put up last year.IMG_3685

It depicts the broken columns signifying both the death of so many during WWII including jews, and the angel Gabriel looking on innocently as the Nazi eagle swoops in and wreaks havoc.  This point of view of the Hungarian non-responsibility has been widely criticized by the people and there is a protest memorial directly in front of the government one.  These are not my pictures as the weather was too bad while we were there, but you can see the proximity of the two memorials I hope.  It is a small victory for truth, but an important one.M10

While it may be more than you are interested in, here is a document posted at the memorial with the “other” point of view.

ProtestDoc

Lest it all sound too depressing, this is a great city and we have enjoyed ourselves immensely.  The food is delicious, english is widely spoken and it is very easy to get around.  (Uber is here!)  There is also a very funky section with “RuinPubs” that are older buildings infused with artsy bars with lots of things are people to look at!  I will recommend a wonderful tour guide named Orsi and can be reached at veghorsi@gmail.com

IMG_3688

Tomorrow we head to Vienna just for one night and then to Prague on Friday.  We’ll see you from there!

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4 Responses to “Budapest.”

  1. Kitty October 14, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

    Hope you got to enjoy some amazing Tokaji! Safe travels

    • m&m ontheroad October 14, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

      Indeed we did for dinner tonight! So glad you know your Hungarian wine!

  2. richard cohen October 14, 2015 at 6:04 pm #

    largest temple with museum there. what wonderful reading you are providing

  3. C&C October 15, 2015 at 11:01 am #

    Our Amanda did an artist in residence in Budapest when she was vegetarian. They didn’t know what to do with her– took the bigger pieces of meat out of the stew. She lost weight.

    She did say the city was beautiful, especially at night.

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