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Calendar >  Robertson River Boat Adventure Continues

Robertson River Boat Adventure Continues

By   /  October 5, 2015  /  No Comments


tom & carol

We are in our second day in Budapest Hungary. We have seen more of the city this time than we did the first time we visited years ago. This is a beautiful city with lots of stunning architecture and a great historical story. The city of Budapest was actually not fully one large city until 1872 when Old Buda (Obada), Buda and the city of Pest joined together to form Budapest. The story of this area dates date to the time of Rome when the area was conquered by the Roman Empire. numeroud Roman ruins can be found as you drive around, especially on the outskirts of the town. We passed by Roman aqueducts that once ran close to the Danube River.
The Romans gave way to the Huns who ruled for a while. Luck would send the Huns back to their homeland as the leader became ill. A story goes that King Bela IV, of Hungarian descent, swore an oath that if he could drive the Huns out he would put his daughter, Princess Elizabeth, in a nunnery to serve God for all time.
The Huns left, King Bela assumed his oath did the trick and the daughter lived in a Dominican convent situated on Margaret Island, in the middle of the Danube. This island now is a beautiful park and the remains of the convent are on the island.
Hungary has had a turbulant history with their involvement in World War I and World War II as well as the rise of Communism in 1948. In 1956 the Hungarians had had enough and protests began that would last until the fall of communism in the country in 1989. Interestingly there is is a statue on the Buda side, Buda is on southern part of the Danube and Pest on the northern side, on a hill called Castle Hill that is referred to at the Statue of Liberty. This statue was actually built by the Communists and once had a huge red star and a soviet soldier statue associated with it. In a compromise move to keep the large statue on a pedestal the government voted to allow the statue to remain as long as the red star and soviet soldier statue were removed. Many locals still alive from the communist rule period still want the statue down as it reminds them of a time of communist rule and the many thousands who died or mysteriously disappeared.
Some facts about Hungary and Budapest. Over 20 million people visit this city annually. The average monthly income is around $1,100 and there is a 40% tax on their salaries. Living in the city can get expensive based on how close you live to city center. Apartments generally run from $56,000 a year to over $166,000. Needless to say, Hungarians live with many generations of their families in the same homes to afford to live, eat, pay for transportation and other necessities. Speaking of cars, most of the cars in the country are Susuki’s, Audi’s and Mercedes Benz with a scattering of BMW’s.
There are a number of great sites to visit in the city. Castle Hill and Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion and St. Matthias Church (with great views of the Danube and City from the walls), Gellert Hotel Spa (known for thermal heated springs – men on one side of the spa and women on the other), the Museum of Fine Arts and the National Musueum, the incredible Neo-gothic Parliment Building first started in 1886, and Heroes Square and Millennium Monument featuring statues of former Hungarian rulers, a tomb to the Unkown Soldier and a magnificent bronze statue of Magyar Prince Arpad and 6 of his warriors. along with these there is a well kept long promenade that runs along the Danube for miles with pathways for pedestrians and bikers.
On part of the Promenade is an unusual and moving sculpture, 60 pairs of shoes from the 1940’s representing Jews who were taken to the Danube, asked to remove all of their possessions and shoes and were then shot by the Nazi’s to fall in the icy waters of the Danube.
There are numerous churches in the city, one of the largest is the Baroque University church built in the 1700’s. There is also a large Jewish synagogue not far from this and the Budapest Opera House that many people feel is more beautiful than the Vienna Opera House. We also visited the huge Market Building where you can purchase food of all kinds, groceries, every kind of sausage imaginable, caviar, paprika, and in the upstairs area souvenier’s galore. There were also a number of eateries upstairs.
Just past this is the block after block of the walking promenade with tourists shops abounding. On our free day we took an optional trip to the artists village of St. Andre (Szentendre). We had been here before but wanted to return as there are a number of fashionable shops, featuring the Hungarian blue-dye products, to visit and one place we had not seen, the Marzipan factory. Marzipan is crushed almonds mixed with water and sugar to form a sticky paste that is then formed into the most incredible art pieces you have seen. Coloring is mixed with the pasty mixture to add to the sculpture. One was of the Parliament Building, a huge Micky Mouse, numerous scenes from Disney movies, a life sized Princess Diana and a life sized Michael Jackson, also made partially with white chocolate.
An exit into the gift shop brought an array of candies to purchase. It was a fun morning trip. Our adventures in eastern Europe are ending in a couple of days. We leave tonight for Bratislava, Slovakia (not Slovenia) for part of a day then on to our final stop, Vienna, Austria. For our trip to Vienna we will not be visiting the Schonbrunn Palace, as we have already seen it, but I highly recommend if you get over there this is a not to be missed. Just think of Versailles in Paris. Many of our group will also attend a performance at the Vienna Opera House.
Again, hope all is well with you and you have enjoyed the updates. In a future article in thevistapress.com  online I will write about a couple of the places we visited in more detail and put in a slide show of pictures Carolyn has been taking so you get a better idea of what these places look like over here.



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