18 August 2010

First Stop: Budapest (Take 1)

Budapest, Vienna, and Prague. The cities we visited on our summer vacation. We've been asked at least a dozen times each why we chose those cities. Just in case you're wondering, this is it: we both wanted to visit Eastern European cities. I'd visited Budapest several times while doing orphan work in Romania, so it made the list. Jeremy has always wanted to visit Prague, and both of us wanted to see Vienna. Since, Vienna and Prague are cities that are easy to access by bus or train, it seemed natural that these were our three cities.

Now that I've shared more than you ever wanted to know about our vacation planning, let's get to some details. For some reason,we chose a flight that would leave DFW at 8am. What in the world?! That means, leaving home at 4am to reach the airport two hours ahead of time. Not only that, but with the time zones involved, we arrived in Budapest at 9am their time (the following day, of course). By the time we cleared customs and got to the hotel, it was about 11am. And we had to stay up until bedtime. Otherwise, sleep patterns would have gone arry. Thankfully, our plan worked and within a couple of days, we were on schedule.

Here are a few pictures from our stay in Budapest:

Getting our much needed caffeine fix upon our arrival. I had two cappucinos, back to back.

The Chain Bridge
Budapest is cenetered around the Danube River; Buda is on one side, Pest is on the other. There are six bridges that link the two sides. During World War II, all of the bridges were destroyed. The bridges were built as similar as possible to those that were standing prior to the War. The most famous, perhaps, is the Chain Bridge. It is a beautiful bridge, with gorgeous arches, that reminds of something that could be in Paris. (Afterall, Budapest is referred to as 'Paris of the East.') The bridge is flanked by two lions on either end. When the bridge was complete, the architect challenged the people of Budapest to find something wrong with his bridge, believing he'd paid close attention to detail. Well, wouldn't you know he forgot to put tongues in the lions' mouths. Legend says that he jumped of the bridge into the Danube. I'm unsure of his outcome, as he's rumored to have both survived and drowned in the Danube.

The tunnel on the Buda side of the bridge was dug through the mountain. To go up the mountain, one can ride the funicular (below right) or hike up the mountain, as we did.

Having visited Budapest previously, I was a little saddened when I saw how commercialized it's become. Ten years ago, the folk art/traditional souveniers were beautiful. They're still pretty, but the city has certainly learned how to market itself with its souveniers. It reminds me of any American city with its 'souveniers' that are made half-a-world away. Thankfully, I found a store that had a few eggs, and other souveniers, without 'Budapest' being plastered on them.

We visited the main synagouge in Budapest, which is home to this Tree of Life. Sadly, some 200,000 Jewish people were killed in Budapest during World War II. The Tree of Life has leaves that list the name of each Jewish life lost in Budapest during the ward. This site is also home to mass graves of Jewish people. Since only the names are known of those killed, headstones are propped up against each other in the cemetary. During the tour, someone asked how many Jews still live in Budapest. The tour guide--a Jew, although gracious, shared that since the Holocaust, it is not considered thoughtful to ask someone their religion. So many lives were taken because of religion. I found this very interesting, and had never thought that it would be a topic to avoid in Europe. It makes me wonder how effective evangelism is in a continent that has been deeply wounded by an aversion to a particular religion.

Okay, there's so much more from Budapest. So as not to bore you too much in one day, let's break it up! To be continued...


Kathryn said...

I love all the pictures and I am living vicariously through you via your posts. So jealous!

Christine said...

Oh so beautiful! I'm making Steven take me there one day!

-M said...

The coffee pic is great! Reading your post definitely takes me back...miss it and you.