“From Budapest to Bucharest!”
“Budapesht.” Yes, this is how the locals pronounce it!
After listening to someone who had recently been to Budapest, I thought the town would be run-down and out-of-date! My friend was out of her mind when she told me about her thoughts of Budapest! Thank goodness we heard “good” reports from others! We came in four days early to enjoy Budapest before our river tour on the Viking Lif.
You can’t snap enough photos to capture all of the beauty of this city. It was named the second most beautiful city in the world by Flight Network. Paris is ninth! (I could add Valencia and Barcelona, Spain to that small list.) The 1.7 million city is influenced by Greek, Moorish (and Turkey), Art Deco, and Neo-Gothic architecture and cultures. The breadth and sheer variety of buildings is rivaled by few cities in the world. It reminded me of Istanbul and Ankara in Turkey. One passenger on our ship told me that I would love Vienna too!
Theodore Hertzl, one of my heroes, was born near the Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest. He dreamed of an independent state for Jews and his dream came true after he died. “If you will it, it need not be a dream.” This is the largest and most opulent synagogue that we have ever seen. Some suggest that only the New York City synagogue Temple Emanu-El is bigger! Its facade is adorned with pick and green bricks and reminded me of the Duomo in Florence.
People in Budapest are affluent, earning more than twice the average of other EU countries. Everything seems to run very smoothly, almost a million people use mass-transit every day. There are buses and trams and under ground trains. Very few people use motorcycles, some use bicycles, but most drive big cars! There are bicycle lanes everywhere. The locals and city officials love their dogs. We saw no strays and every few blocks there was a dog part!
The locals follow the rules. They wait for the lights to change, stop when crossing a street, and place their refuse (not on the street) but in bins, even cigarettes. If you hand them the wrong change, they don’t cheat you and they even stop and give you directions in Hungarian–that work!
Some of the best sights include St. Matthews Cathedral, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Parliament Building, Memento Park (Statues torn down after the fall of Communism. See the website: http://www.mementopark.hu ), Castle Hill, Margaret Island, The Ferris Wheel in the middle City Square, and every street in town!!!
To view the fantastic sights you can hoof it, ride a tram, bus, or underground train. Or, you can rent a bicycle, a one person electric car, a scooter with twelve inch-wide wheels, or a Segway. Or, you can book a bus tour to anywhere!
The owner of the bed and breakfast where we stayed, Wahab, was originally from Chad and had been a professor at the University of Bengazi before Libya fell apart. Wahab is an electrical engineer who chose Budapest as the best place to raise his sons and provide an education for them. There are 40 colleges and universities in this remarkable city. And education is free! He purchased some property to create the Evergreen, the bed and breakfast, so it would generate funds to pay for necessities for his sons’ education. How smart!!
The Hungarians have been through hundreds of years of wars and atrocities, siding with Hitler at one point, and saved by the Russians who tried to destroy their culture. They have only had a democracy since the 1990’s so it is almost unbelievable to see the progress they have made in creating a wonderful and welcoming city.
We were sad to leave Hungary. If we choose to live in another country, it would be high on the list. They have free health benefits. I may return to Budapest to share additional photos in another blog! There was so much to see and digest!
As always this post is copyrighted by Marla J. Selvidge