viernes, 15 de mayo de 2015

May 14 - Budapest, Hungary

Nagy Vásarcsarnok
The Central Market Hall is an impressive collection of stands selling everything from fruit to fish to souvenirs to jewelry to leather and mink hats! It is a lot of fun to walk around and peruse what each of the vendors has to offer. The upstairs even has a few vendors selling some Hungarian food, which you can't go wrong with! Definitely worth checking out.

Dohány utcai Zsinagóga
Budapest's Great Synagogue on Dohány Street was built in the mid-1800s and is the largest Synagogue in Europe. The interior is exquisitely decorated; it's truly a sight to see. It was also the first time I have worn a kippah, which was difficult to keep on the head. ( At least I thought so...)

There are also a couple exhibits on display and a memorial to the Hungarian Jews who lost their lives during WWII. One of the most touching and impressive memorials I have seen was here; it's a weeping willow tree made of metal, and each of the leaves has the name of a Hungarian Jew who lost his or her life to the Nazi regime. Every single Hungarian Jew who lost his or her life is represented. It is very emotional to see.

Hiking up Castle Hill offers not just some good exercise, but some amazing sights of the Pest side of the city. There's also a tram to that can take you up the hill, since it is a bit of a hike, but where's the fun in that?! (And besides, there was a long line and it would cost like 7 euros to just ride it up and come back down!)

The newly cleaned Fisherman's Bastion is a gorgeous structure overlooking the Danube River. The sights of the Pest side of the city, especially the Hungarian Parliament Building, are amazing to see from up there. The history behind the structure is kind if interesting: it used to be where there was a fortified wall for the castle that was there. However the current structure was built around the turn of the 20th century and has never seen war. The 7 turrets represent the 7 tribes that were in Hungary when it became its present day country back in 895.

Mátyás Templom
The Matthias Church is ridiculously decorated on the inside with designs on all the walls and pillars. It is very colorful, with a lot of red, blue, green, gold... There is a nice complementation of paintings and tile work. Even the roof on the outside is covered in colorful tiles!

The original church on the site that was built in 1015 was destroyed in 1241 by the Mongols. A new church was constructed in the second half of that century, which has been belittled and partially destroyed several times. It was even the base camp of the Nazi occupation during WWII and suffered great damage. Between 2006 and 2013, it underwent a serious restoration, which restored it to its former glory.

The Hungarian Parliament Building is a jewel on the Danube River. It's a wondrous building that is impressive to look at. You can tour its almost 700 rooms, though I decided to opt out if that... Because it's on the river, the only way to get far enough away to take in the whole building is to either hop on a boat tour and see it from the river or check it out from the opposite side of the river, which is what I did.

Hősök tere
Heroes' Square has two museums on either side with a statue centered between them and colonnades behind the statue. It's also one of the entrances to Városiglet, aka City Park. There's even a Castle structure with a half moat in the park, albeit the most was drained when I was there, though how effective is a moat that only goes around the front half of a castle, much less one that's drained?

Széchenyi Gyógyfürdő és Uszoda
My trip to the Széchenyi Thermal Baths was the first time I have ever been to a bath house/spa. It was indeed very relaxing, though it would have been nice to get a massage too! ;) There are several pools, both indoor and outdoor, that range in temperatures. There are also saunas and steam rooms, fountains, water aerobics, and more. I gotta say, the Romans had the idea of bath houses right! There are even guys playing chess in the outdoor pools! The thermal water with its minerals just leaves you feeling so refreshed. It's definitely a must do while visiting Budapest, and since there are bath houses all over the city, it's easy to do too!

I've gotta say, Budapest is an extremely underrated city. Everyone goes to Europe and wants to go to Paris, London, Amsterdam, one ever thinks to go to eastern Europe, but it's very fun and cheap too! I stayed with my friend Simón, which was fun to get to hang out with him too and have an expat to give me pointers. The only pain is having to switch my money from euros to huf! I will DEFINITELY be coming back to Budapest in the future though!

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