December 14, 2017

Nagy: A Hungarian Hero in Budapest

There are a lot of statues in Budapest.  One day I was roaming around and stumbled upon this very unique statue.

Even though I didn’t know who it was, I was really drawn to it. The setting is actually very beautiful and I was drawn to the look on his face.

This is Imre Nagy who was Prime Minister of Hungary twice.  Even though he was a communist he promoted a “new course” in socialism which caused him to fall out of favor with the Russians.  They fired him but he was put in place again by public demand during the 1956 revolt against Soviet imposed policies.Imre Nagy statue in Budapest Hungary

His reformist ideas meant that his new government was not supported by the Russians and when the revolt failed, Nagy was captured and eventually executed for treason.

Despite his political agreement with Communism, his role in the Hungarian Revolt of 1956 brought him admiration among  Hungarians and he died a martyr.

His name was not allowed to be uttered after the revolt but once the communists were expelled, he was buried as a hero and this statue was built in 1996.

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A Little America in Budapest

As I was wandering around Budapest, I came across a little bit of America and thought I would share it with you for this edition of Travel Photo Thursday!

Look who I found in Budapest!

Ronald Reagan Statue Budapest Hungary

Earlier this summer, this 7 foot statue of Ronald Reagan was unveiled on Freedom Square in Budapest to honor his role in ending communism.

Also nearby is the US Embassy.

US Embassy Budapest Hungary

This was a bit harder to see because it really doesn’t stick out except for the large fence surrounding it, barricades to automobile traffic and signs that say Don’t Take Pictures (oops am I in trouble?).  Plus the flag wasn’t waving freely, but I eventually figured it out!

 

For more great pictures, make sure to look into Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Every Thursday they post new photos from their travels and invite others to join in!

Maybe I’ll see you there.

 

Ugly History in Budapest

When traveling I love learning about history of the area I am in.  The thing with history is, it isn’t always pretty or doesn’t always make us proud of those who came before us.  Nope, but it is history and important to look at as a way towards understanding people and societies.

Today we are a sum of all the events that have taken place in an earlier time and to evolve we need to embrace history.

Unfortunately Budapest has its fair share of the type of history that is really ugly and makes us uncomfortable.

War is ugly but WWII and its repercussions to  Jews was especially this way.  This was true for the Jews in Budapest too. Early during the war the Jews in Hungary were basically left alone since Hungary sided with the Nazi’s.  But as the war dragged on Hungarian support changed and so did the treatment of the Jews.Dohany Synagogue Exterior Budapest Hungary

In March 1944 Germany occupied Hungary. Ghettos were formed in Budapest and 200,000 Jews were moved into squalid conditions.  Food was not let in, waste and trash was not collected and the dead were piled high or buried in a mass grave at the Dohany Synagogue.Dohany Synagogue Interior Budapest Hungary

Budapest has many memorials to its Jews that lost their lives during WWII.  Some of these monuments are at the Dohany Street Synagogue, the 2nd largest synagogue in the world.

In the courtyard of the synagogue is the mass grave of thousands of Jews from the Budapest Ghetto. This is very unusual for a synagogue since according to Jewish law the dead are not to be buried on the grounds of a synagogue.  In this case, there really was no other option.Mass Grave Dohany Synagogue Budapest Hungary

As a memorial to all Hungarian victims of the Holocaust is the weeping willow. Made out of steel with each leaf containing a name of a victim, this commemoration was built in 1989 and sponsored, in part, by the Emanuel Foundation which was created by Tony Curtis in honor of his father, Emanuel Schwartz, who emigrated from Mateszalka Hungary to New York.Willow Tree Memorial Dohany Synagogue Budapest Hungary

One of the most disturbing is the “Shoes on the Danube” monument. On the edge of the Danube near the Parliament building you will see bronze shoes standing at the waters edge.  As the war was coming to its end, the Nazi’s realized they were loosing.  They installed the faschist Red Arrow Party in Budapest and empowered them to round up groups of Jews, take them to the rivers edge and shoot them so they would fall into the Danube.  Prior to shooting them, they were required to remove their shoes.     Estimates are that 10-15,000 Jews died in this manner.Shoes Along Danube Budapest Hungary

In 1941 there were about 246,000 Jews living in Budapest and at the end of the war almost 50% had died with most of these deaths occurring after May 1944.

History is philosophy teaching by example and also by warning.
Lord Bolingbroke

 

What’s your take on history?  Like it, love it or leave it?

Cities that leave you Bleh!

This summer I visited Bamberg Germany and loved it.

Mittenwald, loved it.  Innsbruck, loved it.  Salzburg, loved it!  Budapest. . .

. . . I don’t know what to say about Budapest. 

I arrived by train expecting to find a beautiful city on the Danube that I would love.

Instead, I am ambivalent. 

Due to its place in history, I found Budapest very interesting and would love to spend more time learning about all the events and people that have shaped this city.  The WWII history alone is fascinating. I didn’t realize or had forgotten that it was Budapest where the Russians defeated the Nazi’s.  Or the history surrounding the revolt during the 1950’s.  Fascinating history!

But I was still left wondering, where is the beauty?  What is the attraction? 

I have seen the pictures of Budapest that are so beautiful they take my breath away, but it was hard to find this.Budapest and Danube River

I finally found the beauty.  It is down on the water.  From the Danube Budapest is beautiful.  From either bank looking across, Budapest is beautiful.

As I explored the Pest side of the city, I would come across an occasional architectural gem – St. Stephens Basilica, Dohany Street Synagogue, the Parliament building and Szechenyi Baths are a few.   Heroes’ Square is pretty amazing due to its size.Pariliament Building Budapest Hungary

But the real beauty is along the river. 

I was even told by tour guides that the grand boulevard, Andrássy út, looked just like the Champs Elysees because it was modeled after it.

I didn’t see it!  I don’t get it. 

I couldn’t get the feel of the city and, therefore, had trouble getting my bearings which resulted in an unsettled feeling.  I never got lost but just didn’t feel comfortable until Friday, my last day.Across the Danube with Basilica Budapest Hungary

I spent Friday exploring Castle HillNow this is beautiful! I loved it up on Castle Hill.  It had the feel of “Europe”.  The old world feel and small crooked, cobblestoned streets all combined to have a much more familiar feel to it.  Which is amazing considering it isn’t that old at all due to the carpet bombing during WWII!

I was not uncomfortable wandering the streets on the Buda side of the Danube and maybe it was this new found confidence that followed me as I returned to the Pest side of town. I was much more comfortable as I searched for the monuments I wanted to see.

Too bad it was my last day! 

I just don’t know how to describe Budapest because I don’t know how I feel about it.  Bleh, is the best I can do.

 

Have you felt this way about a city?

Gulaschsuppe, Gulyasleves or Goulash Soup

While traveling I am not a “foodie” per se. That doesn’t mean I don’t look forward to meals when traveling, I just don’t travel to locations to visit a certain chef’s restaurant nor do I even visit the “it” restaurant in town.

I do, however, love local traditional cuisine and that is what I search out.

On my first ever trip to Germany, I absolutely fell in love with Gulaschsuppe (Goulash soup) and it is something I look forward to any time I am in Germany or Austria.

On my latest trip I had Gulaschsuppe in Innsbruck . . . three times,Goulash Soup Innsbruck Austria

This one I had it with a wonderful nice green salad.More Goulash Soup Innsbruck Austria

Salzburg once. Goulash Soup Stiegl Brewery Salzburg Austria

I added an absolutely amazing potato/cabbage salad.  Oh my god, this salad was so good!  But then so was the soup and beer 🙂

And when in Budapest I just had to try the local version for a comparison.  The broth of this soup was wonderful and was extremely good for dunking the bread that came with it 🙂Goulash Soup Budapest Hungary

Goulash soup is a beef based soup with tomatoes, caraway and paprika!  In Germany and Austria the broth is a little thicker and usually contains small chunks of beef and potato in equal portions.

Gulyasleves in Budapest has a thinner broth with a little beef and TONS of potatoes and carrots!  Yah, vegetables.

I still love Gulaschsuppe, Gulyasleves or Goulash Soup even after 5 servings in 2 weeks.  They were all so good and I can’t say one was better than the other.

All I can say is the German version just holds a very special spot in my heart!

 

What type of food do you look for when traveling?  Any specialties that stick out?

European Soccer Fans in Budapest

Today is the start of the NFL season, so on the Travel Photo Thursday I thought I’d share some images of the pre-game celebration I witnessed in Budapest.

I was sitting outside enjoying my final meal in Budapest when I heard a loud commotion coming from down the square a bit.  I figured it was the football fans because all day I had been noticing the city was swimming in yellow and blue jerseys.Swedens Football Fans in Budapest Hungary

Since my food was on the table I couldn’t get up and see what was going on but I could hear the chanting.  As I continued eating the chanting and rallying got louder and louder.  It was clear they were coming my way!Football Fans in Budapest Hungary

Grabbing my camera, I was able to snap a few pictures as the sea of yellow and blue swarmed all around me! These fans were in town to support their team in the Euro Cup Qualification round.  Despite their best efforts, Sweden lost the match to Hungary 2-1.More Football Fans Budapest Hungary

Of course, they had their escorts too 🙂Football Fans Budapest Hungary

Have you witnessed sports fanaticism in action?

 

For more great pictures, make sure to look into Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Every Thursday they post new photos from their travels and invite others to join in!

Maybe I’ll see you there.

 

Favorite European Travel Moments

I have arrived back home from Europe a little tired but none the worse for wear.  As I am attempting to re-acclimate and get caught up I have also been spending time reminiscing about the trip I have just taken.

Below are some of the experiences that stand out.

When I looked over this list I noticed that none of them are museum, tours or events but just life being experienced in a foreign land.  To me this is what travel is all about.  It is these experiences that make travel come alive.

So here are a “few of my favorite things”!

  • Heading up to a lake above Mittenwald to cool off!  Surrounded by the mountains it was a great place to relax and put my feet in the lake.

    Lautersee above Mittenwald Germany

    Lautersee above Mittenwald

  • During the first afternoon in Bamberg there was a brief rain storm.  Instead of hiding inside I decided to take refuge from the rain under an umbrella and enjoy a beer, bowl of soup and realized I’m in Germany!
  • Enjoying local music while having a traditional Bavarian meal in MittenwaldGotta love that oompah music!
  • Wandering from one platz to the next and coming across an amazing group of men playing awesome classical music in Salzburg.  This musical city did not disappoint.
  • The uncomfortable feeling in my stomach realizing that my guide at the Synagogue in Budapest was born in the Budapest ghetto.  The children of WWII are all we really have left and it is their stories that will keep the memory alive for the future.

    Soccer Fans in Budapest Hungary

    Soccer Fans in Budapest

  • Experiencing football fanaticism up close and personal in Budapest!  Not sure there was anyone left in Sweden because they all showed up to route for their team.  Although they lost the European Championship Qualifying round, I’m sure they had a good time!
  • As I watched children melt under the heat, I realized there is a universal language.  Reading their faces I could tell exactly what they were saying even though I couldn’t understand a word out of their mouths.  Body language is the universal language.

    Mountain above Innsbruck Austria with snow

    Mountains above Innsbruck

  • The mountains in Innsbruck dusted with snow the morning after a thunder storm and the views of the mountains in Mittenwald.  There is such peace in the enormity of these mountains.

These are a few of my favorite moments while I was traveling.  As the weeks go on I will be sharing with you more details of my travels experiences in Germany, Austria and Hungary.

What are your favorite memories when traveling?

6 Free Things to do in Budapest

For a city that has over 2,000 years of history, Budapest looks great!  Despite the years of invasion, oppression and even independence, Budapest has been able to maintain its title as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.

The history of this city will make your head spin and shows how Budapest was a revolving door for invaders.  First settled by the Celts then the Romans who were followed by a pillaging at the hands of the Ottomans.  Next were the Turks, who left some great baths, and then the Hapsburg Empire.  It was during the Hapsburg rule that Buda and Pest were merged.  A free country after WWI, Budapest was declared a communist country at the end of WWII.  Later the Soviet Union came in to squash a rebellion and a people until the communist era ended in 1989-1990.

You can see the visual images of all this history on the buildings making up this city’s stunning sights.

Budapest is bisected by the Danube which is crossed by 9 bridges.  The buildings include all styles of architecture – Classic, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Art Nouveau – sometimes even in the same building!

Budapest Hungary

Budapest by ** Maurice **, on Flickr

Music has been a part of Budapest’s history for centuries.  Music lovers, or not, will find a plethora of musically related events and sites to behold.

Budapest’s many World Heritage Sites will entice any traveler and keep you busy for days.

I will be spending a few days in Budapest later this summer and have been looking at ways to stretch the budget.  Below are a few of the free or nearly free things I have come up with.

-From the west side of the Danube take in the panorama that is Castle Hill.  This is a must-see district for any Budapest visitor as the castle walls and cobbled streets will be a vision in your mind for a long time!

Castle Hill Budapest Hungary

Castle Hill by Bruce Tuten, on Flickr

– From here you could visit the Romanesque Matthias Church.  This church reflects the history Budapest has endured and was even once transformed into a mosque during the Turkish occupation. Here you will find architecture, history and art all for about $4.

-While in the Castle district, don’t miss Holy Trinity Square.  In the center you will find the ornate Holy Trinity Column which dates back to 1713. The square was the main marketplace of Buda during medieval times and the column is a memorial to all the people who died during the plague of 1691.  Also in the square is a replica statue of Pallas Athene, protector of cities.

Fisherman's Bastion Budapest Hungary

Fisherman's Bastion by mdid, on Flickr

Fisherman’s Bastion is located at the site of the medieval fish market and is one of the most beautiful sights in Budapest.  Not only is the structure magnificent but so are the views of the Danube and the Pest side of the city.  The stunning architecture is both neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque.

Heroes’ Square is devoted to “the memory of the heroes who gave their lives for the freedom of our people and our national independence,” and is one of Budapest’s most emotional monuments. Don’t forget to take a picture of the Millennium Monument and the tall column with the archangel Gabriel on top holding the Hungarian crown in one hand.

Heroes Square Budapest Hungary

Heroes Square by mdid, on Flickr

Nagycsarnok or Great Market Hall is an architectural gem.  Its Baroque roof is just a part of this 20th century structure.  There are over 200 market stalls where you will find souvenirs as well as paprika, salami and wine.  The bottom floor is where you will see lively shopping complete with bartering.   A real  taste of Budapest in this more traditional  part of the market.

 

I know Budapest is full of amazing sights to see.

What did I leave off the list – free or not?