22 August 2010

Budapest, Take 2

Let's start with the good stuff! Ten years ago, I discovered the Double Magnum Ice Cream Bar. Holy moly, it's seriously the best ice cream bar ever. Ever! I ate as many as possible while in Hungary. In fact, on the weekends when we'd drive to Budapest from Romania, we'd stop at the first gas station with the excuse of needing more gas. The truth was, it was the first place we could eat a Double Magnum. And we probably needed more gas. Who cares when snack are an option, though?!

I almost had tears in my eyes when I found that they still sold them in Budapest. I forced Jeremy to eat one and take a picture of me with mine before I devoured it. One of these things he really enjoyed. I'm pretty sure the other one annoyed him since I was so hot and sweaty that it took a couple of shots. (Did I mention Europe had a heat wave come through when we arrived? 100 degrees isn't as much fun when air conditioning is not an option!)

Me and my Magnum.
Please excuse the frizzy hair, sweat and freckles (that my dermatologist refers to as age spots.
What does she know?!)

This ice cream treat was beyond extremely needed. This was the day that we decided to do EVERY TOURIST ATTRACTION IN BUDAPEST. It was a tough day! We didn't exactly realize that we did so much until the next morning when we couldn't move. Here's a run down of those attractions:

The Jewish Synagogue
This is the 2nd largest synagogue in the world, behind the one in New York. But it was so ornate.
A picture of the outside, and a picture of the beautifully painted ceilings.

The Subway
This was our day to figure out public transportation. Hungarian has no familiar words, so it's not exactly easy to navigate in this city. Thankfully, so many people spoke English that if we were in a bind, someone was usually able to help. I swear these are the fastest and steepest escalators I've ever been on. And with a fear of escalators, you can imagine my joy each time I stepped on these things. (My ankle was cut open by a stair when I was little. I've been afraid ever since.)

This building is beautiful and is the backdrop to many of our pictures in Budapest. As we walked up the subway stairs, we grabbed the map to find our way. Turns out, it's not easily missed from the subway exit. This is what you see:

St. Stephen's Church
In turmoil and about to be challenged by other countries, Stephen declared Christianity as the national religion of Hungary, thereby making the Hungary credible as a European country. This catholic church is named after him. A while after he died, he was exhumed and his right hand was removed. His right hand resides in the church. Once a year--in August, I believe--they have a national holiday where the hand is carried throughout the city.

Heroes' Square
Next up was Heroes' Square. (Actually, next was lunch at a Chinese restaurant. These are nice in foreign countries because they have picture menus. Pointing is always a plus when language barriers exist!) Heroes' Square Millenium Memorial was built for the 1000 year anniversary of the founding of Hungary. The statues on the center of the square are the leaders from each of the tribes that founded Hungary.

Vajdahunyad Castle
First of all, this is a perfect example of Hungarian being pretty much impossible to read. It's just so unfamiliar! Okay, so this castle really isn't a castle. It was built of cardboard and plywood for an exhibition in the late 1800s. It was so popular that they rebuilt it, making it permanent. It has four different buildings in different styles: Romanic, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque.

This was the location where the above Magnum was found. I think you'd agree we needed a sweet treat! And we're still not finished with that day or night!

Budapest Opera House
The king of the Austro-Hungarian empire footed half of the bill for an opera house to be built in Budapast, but gave one stipulation: that it not be bigger than the Vienna opera house. But he forgot to mention that it couldn't be more beautiful. After one visit, he never returned because he was so unhappy that this opera house was more beautiful!

Walking Tour and Night Cruise
Before we left for Europe, we scheduled a walking tour of Budapest. Crazy enough, we returned to ALL of the sights we visited during this crazy day of touring. But we were able to hear a little more history of the city. We ended our walking tour with a night cruise along the Danube River. Budapest is a beautiful city, especially at night--it just glows.

The Chain Bridge and Buda Castle 

Okay, folks. Maybe one more post about Budapest, and then we'll move onto our time in Vienna.


Christine said...

GORGEOUS! The bridge photo at night is stunning. And the opera house...reminds me of the on in the movie Phantom of the Opera. You can only imagine all the people who have frequented that place!

allison said...

Oh, Magnum.

(And by the way, what I loved about those gas/rest stops was the fact that it could be nine in the morning, but it didn't matter---if Magnums were available, we were on it! ;)