Budapest, Hungary

Since many people can’t locate Hungary on a map (I couldn’t) I circled it for you.  I learned a lot of history about this country.

Fun Fact: Budapest is the capitol of Hungary. It was once divided into 2 separate cities….Buda and Pest.  The river Danube split them. Over time (and a lot of fighting between the cities ) a bridge was built and connected the 2 citys to form one. Budapest.

The main thing to do in Budapest is walk around and explore and  go on a hop on- hop off bus tour. That’s exactly what we did. I learned a lot of history about the city and saw some really interesting stuff.

here are some FUN FACTS…….

*The Hungarians love to read, they have over 400 book publishing companies in the country, the largest amount in any city in Europe.  The country is very small, in fact, Hungary is smaller then New York state! 

The people have an annual book fair every year and it is very crowded.  I would fit in good here because I love to read.IMG_3621 Here is a  sign written in Hungarian. How would you even pronounce those words?!

*Not many people know this but Hungary is very old. Over 1,000 years! It was once taken over by the Roman Empire.

*Budapest has the second oldest subway line in all of Europe (London has the first)

Hungary was once a communist country. People didn’t have a lot of freedoms. Speaking of freedoms, below are photo’s of  Hero Square. The place where a lot of demonstrations were held.

IMG_3694 IMG_3690 (1)Hero Square is is in the center of the Pest side of the city. Locals walk by it everyday and don’t have a second thought.  It is a big tourist attraction and is super crowed in the summer, but it wasn’t crowed for us. There is a lot of history in this square and my parents remember watching demonstrations in the news in 1989 about the people wanting democracy and overthrowing the Communist Party ruler.  In fact, up until 1989 they couldn’t leave Hungary and there was a barbed wire fence at the border with Austria. The country was then called The Hungarian Peoples Republic.

IMG_3679 (1) there are a lot of statues in Budapest.  All of them are of important people from Hungary.

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Walking along the Danube river was cool.  We even walked across the first bridge connecting Buda with Pest.  We also saw the Parliament buildings and many other government buildings. We saw Castles that were built on the Buda side and also on the Pest side. They were very different.  IMG_3647  IMG_3675   IMG_3645  !IMG_3700 (1) At night all the bridges, castles, and some buildings are all lit up.

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SHOES ON THE DANUBE RIVER. Dedicated in 2005

There is a very different monument dedicated to the Holocaust and what happened here in 1944 and 1945.

IMG_3671  IMG_3667 (1) 

Fun Fact  Sculptors Gyula Pauer and Can Togay have created a moving memorial to these Holocaust atrocities that sits in front of the magnificent Parliament building on the edge of the river. What visitors will see are 60 pairs of rusted period shoes cast out of iron. Different sizes and styles reflect how nobody was spared from the brutality  

It was incredible. Mom said it was the most moving monument she ever saw.                          .

BRIEF HISTORY…

The German Nazis were collecting all the Jewish people that lived in Budapest. They brought them to this very river bank that we are standing on and told them to take off there shoes. Then the Nazis would shoot them and their body would fall in the river. The reason they had the Jews take off their shoes was so the bodies could float better and be carried out to sea. So, during World War II there was a big line of shoes on the river bank from the people that were forced to take them off. A lot of architects were trying to think of a way to make this a  memorial site.  People suggested plaques of all the names of the people who died, another thought building a statue would be good.  The memorial site winners were “Pauer and Togay” they thought it would be good to make a bunch of metal and brass shoes to honor all those that were shot and carried out to sea. 

There were men’s shoes , women’s shoes, boots and even a pair of baby shoes. It is sad think what happened here. I was in the place that lots of people were shot. I wonder if there were any survivors? I think the artists that had the idea to make metal shoes as a memorial had a genius idea.

Fun Fact: Budapest is home to the second largest Jewish Synagogue in the world.

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IMG_3658 My famliy and I walked this bridge. it was the first one to connect Buda and Pest. By the way, our hotel was on the Pest side. We went to the Buda side ot see this castle.

IMG_3650 There was good views from here overlooking all of the Pest side and the Danube River.

The Pest side was all flat land and the Buda side is very hilly and has a lot of mountains. We didn’t go in the castle but it was cool to see from the outside.

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I saved the best part for last. The THERMAL BATHS! The Szechenyi Baths

IMG_3623 Hungary has lots of thermal baths.  They are like giant hot tubs except the water is not heated from man made electricity.  These baths (not pools) are heated from natural springs under the ground and the water is so hot that the baths have to be “cooled down” just so we can go in.  The heat is natural and from under ground. People come here after work or anytime they can. It is open from 6am to 9pm.

IMG_3636  IMG_3629 (1)IMG_3631We didn’t think that we would like the thermal baths this much but we did! My family and I thought we would go there and check it out, but we ended up staying here for 4 hours! Mom and Dad swam laps in the big pool.  There are 3 outdoor baths and they are very big.  There are about 10 inside but they are much smaller and not as nice.

IMG_3629 (1) This one was my favorite. I liked it so much because it had an awesome whirl pool with a current that would whip you around and around. Seriously, it got so fast that it was hard to get out of the current.  Sawyer and I liked it. Some times it got TOO crowed. we would keep bumping in to people. It happened to everyone, it was OK.   Sawyer and I went around really fast because we are lighter then all the adults. It was so much fun!  I really enjoyed my time here and we spent most of it in this whirl pool. I must of went around 400 times. No joke!

By the way, the building in the thermal baths lookd like a fancy mansion.  It was really big and had lots of statues.  It was very hard to see under water with googles. The water is from underground natural springs  so its foggy.

Hungary’s currency is the Hungarian Forint…NOT the Euro! So we had different money to learn here. Food is cheaper in Hungary than the previous places in Europe we visited. Local Hungarian food is discusting.  They have meat and fish in all these bowls of sauces and spices.   It looks like a plate of “goop”  we didn’t eat it!

Hungary is a great old city, a lot of people spoke decent English and were able to understand us.  This is the opposite of Italy because hardly any Italians speak English.

I can be reached at rileymeckley@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

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