Budapest 2012 Budapest Danube Budapest River Budapest Cruise Budapest

Budapest            Hungary        Currency is the Florint Budapest

     BudapestHungary is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine, and Romania to the east, Serbia, and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The country's capital, and largest city, is Budapest. Hungary is a member of the European Union, NATO, the OECD, the Visegrad Group, and is a Schengen state. The official language is Hungarian, also known as Magyar, which is part of the Finno-Ugric group and is the most widely spoken non-Indo-European language in the European Union." (Wikipedia).  Hungary was under Communist dictatorship from 1947 to 1989.


     Our first visit to a former Iron Curtain country, although Denis & Hilda had visited Russia a few years ago. Odd first impression; a vague resemblance to Havana, Cuba with its many unimaginative, decaying box-like buildings finally disappearing as we near downtown Budapest.

    Difficult today to visualize Russian tanks grinding through the streets and boulevards, lined with a fantastic mix of architectural styles; Roman, Turkish, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Classicist and Art Nouveau, crushing the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. Our guide said the Russians had stationed up to 4500 tanks in the city, almost unbelievable, almost.


     As the British are fond of saying, "We were all "knackered" and we agreed to have some downtime before dinner at our hotel, the Continental Hotel Zara. One of our graycoats (the named coined by one of our fellow travellers given to CAA tourists wearing their CAA grey travel jackets) had suggested that the New York Cafe (located in the The Boscolo Budapest Hotel, formerly the New York Palace) was THE place to visit so we decided to venture out on our own in the evening. The hotel was 136yrs old the day we visited and what a luxurious building - wow. Check out the foyer, the atrium, and the dining room. We made our way up the heavily carpeted stairs to the 2nd floor lounge where we listened to an equally excellent pianist while we enjoyed pear or tiramisu ice cream along with our café lattes G&Ts and R&Cs.

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     Wednesday dawned cloudy and cool and our plans included a city tour in the morning, on our own for the afternoon, and a CAA dinner in the evening. Both tour and dinner were included in the CAA tour. Our first stop was Hero's Square. This great square was located in "Pest" or the East side of the Danube.
    I thought Hero's Square would celebrate modern events; WW1 and WW2 and perhaps the Communist "victory" - not even close. The square was built in 1896 to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the arrival of Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin. Our guide described each statue and his curriculum vitae, so to speak. The only female statues were Greek goddesses, Magyar leadership did not include women. Hard to take pictures without the graycoats...
Hero's Square      Hero's Square      Museum of Fine Arts      Budapest National Museum      Magyar Kings

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     We drove through the city to cross the Danube into "Buda" for another part of our tour.
Views from Buda       Parliament      St.Stephen's      A Trabat

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« This is a Trabat. Most North Americans have never heard of this car, let alone seen one. These vehicles were built in East Germany as communism's answer to the Volkswagen and were powered by a two-stroke, two cylinder engine developing 26hp on a good day... The engine did not have an oil injection system so two-stroke oil had to be added every time the car was filled up. Imagine, if you will, a car powered by an outboard motor; noisy, smelly and smoky. They were last produced in 1989. This particular model is a 500 so it is at least 48 years old or, if you prefer, a real classic.

     Our morning tour was finished about 10:30 so we were off to visit the Great Synagogue of Budapest, one of the few "tourist" sites we did visit. A very moving, sobering experience to learn of Jewish life in Budapest, particularly during the Nazi occupation in the 1940s.
Dohany Street Synagogue      Raoul Wallenberg plaque      Holocaust Memorial Park      leafs from the Tree of Life      Tree of Life

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« The Emanuel Foundation for Hungarian Culture funded this beautiful yet haunting memorial. The tree, which is made of stainless steel and silver, is fashioned to look like a weeping willow. The tree's branches holds nearly 600,000 metal leafs with the names Hungarian Jews who died during the Holocaust. The Emanuel Foundation was founded by American actor Tony Curtis who was of Hungarian descent.

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     The afternoon was ours so we headed off for lunch at the Lado Cafe, just down the street from out hotel. We had stopped there last night but it was crowded (as in full) and there was loud, live, "hot jazz" - not the thing for our tired group. We enjoyed an excellent lunch featuring Hungarian dishes and good local Beer. We had to be back at 6:00pm for the CAA dinner so we took a cab to the market to save time. Our driver was quite funny and he promised to pick up across the street at 5:00pm sharp. Later that evening we thoroughly enjoyed a CAA hosted Hungarian dinner complete with live music.
Franz Liszt      just strolling      Lado Cafe      Lado Cafe      CAA dinner

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     The three storey Budapest market or "Great Market Hall" dates from 1896 and is a "must-see" location. The sights, smells, the people, this is Budapest. There are kiosks on the upper level where you can sit, enjoy a coffee or beer, eat delicious, different Hungarian dishes and simply people watch. Stall after stall of fresh meats and vegetables and always the lingering hint of paprika. Most shop operators spoke English. Good thing as I know only one word in Hungarian - kuzunou. (phonetic spelling of thank you). It always earned a smile. The market is also where Heather began to sneeze. We thought is was the paprika, it was not. She was coming down with a cold that would soon visit and cause a bit of havoc with our tours, but that was later. Great place to walk and finally enjoy a beer. And has promised, our driver was waiting and greeted us with his great smile and laugh.

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   « The Dohany Street or Great Synagogue. Many Jews lost their lives during the Nazi occupation of Budapest yet this synagogue, the 2nd largest in the world, survived intact. The occupying German forces used the towers for their communications network - rather ironic is it not.


   « To mark the 1945 "liberation" of Hungary from the Nazi invasion in 1944, the Soviets erected this monument. The original wording said: "To the memory of the liberating Soviet heroes [erected by] the grateful Hungarian people [in] 1945". The citizens of Budapest were less than impressed.
    After the 1989 transition from communist rule to democracy, the inscription was modified to read: "To the memory of those all who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom, and prosperity of Hungary". As our guide pointed out, many things changed over the years, some for the better.


   « Finally got to do one of my goals, to visit the statue of the Little Prince. The statue is really of a princess but legend has it that to guard her safety she dressed like a boy. Denis and I made the ½ mile trek from the Amacerto along the Danube walkways using my Oregon550 gps so we knew where we were going and perhaps more importantly, how to get back...


   « And here's a Prairie Canadian trying out falconry. There was a falconer near the church we visited on the Pest side of the Danube.

  the sights of Budapest, move your mouse across the smaller images, F11 = full screen mode on/off   
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✧  Photos contributed by Denis, Bob, Heather and Phil  ✧

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✧  This site was last updated: March 14, 2013  ✧