Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Return to Budapest, where I still don't have my stamp

We arrived in Hungary, once again sans passport stamp, which is very irritating. I got a total of 3 stamps on that trip, despite visiting several countries.

Nora met us at the airport, which I was surprised about! I thought she was working the day we arrived. Her parents also met us and drove us all back to their house. Elice, Allison and Anna's mom, flew in later that day.

These are pictures from one of our dinners. I believe this was goulash night, so our first night there. They're out of order from the blog because all my text just shifted and won't go back. -_-

Their beautiful backyard.

We were all a little exhausted, due to many days of waking up early and walking miles upon miles. We ate breakfast, which included this amazing spread that consisted of cheese, carrots, garlic, mayonnaise and mustard.

We all chatted with Nora, Lilly and Judit and Kosztya for a while, then the 4 of us travelers took a nap. I fully intended for that nap to be only thirty minutes.

Three and a half hours later, I dragged myself out of bed and went into the kitchen.They'd left to go pick up Elice at this point.

Elice arrived and we all continued talking and laughing and enjoying each others company. It was good to have a relaxing day, because I don't think my feet would have survived walking that day!

That evening, Judit made an amazing dinner of Hungarian goulash, followed by ice cream and crepes. We continued chatting and eventually went to bed at a decent hour.

The next morning, we ate a delicious breakfast, including the delicious spread that even Adrienne ate with gusto, then headed out into Budapest. Nora was working that morning, so it was just me, Adrienne, Anna, Allison and Lilly.

We headed to the Castle District, which is up on the hill overlooking the city and has a great church and little neighborhood around it. It also has the Fisherman's Bastion, which is interesting looking but not very old.

This is the neighborhood nearby.

This is the Matthias Church, which was under construction the last time I was in Budapest, so it was great to be able to go inside! It is very detailed and intricate inside!

It's a Roman Catholic Church, originally built in 1015, but the church as is stands today was built in the 14th century. It's actually called Church of Our Lady, but was renamed after King Matthias, who had his two weddings there and ordered construction of part of the church. It was temporarily the main mosque in Budapest during the Turkish occupation. A lot of the frescoes were whitewashed then, so they had to be restored later.

The roof is also very detailed.
This is the square near the church.

This is the Fisherman's Bastion, which was finished in 1902. It was almost destroyed during World War II and rebuilt. Its seven towers represent the seven Magyar tribes that settled in the Carpathian Basin in 896. (Magyar means "Hungarian." You'll see that word on the sign above).

Random story: My student was reading about World War I but read the "I" as in "I am going to the store." He said, "Teacher, shouldn't it be World War I am a great war." It was cute.

This is Stephen I of Hungary.
He was king from 1000-1038. He was buried in Székesfehérvár. I just want you to look at that word. It gives you a little bit of a hint of how difficult Hungarian words are to pronounce/read for non-native speakers.

The view from the bastion.

The church with the sun peaking through.
Adrienne and Allison in a surprisingly normal photo. You'll notice that there are few pictures of people in this blog. That is because they will all be in the photobomb blog.

We headed inside the church, which is beautifully decorated.
The ceiling was very cool.

So cool

Those are the symbols of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. painted by Bertalan Szekely.
The organ

There is somebody's head. Perhaps a kind, since a copy of the coronation crown and crowned jewels are here.

Almost normal, minus Allison.
Almost normal, minus Anna.
I kept these in because there would have otherwise been no picture of people inside the church in this blog.

Anna...And my eyes are closed. Oops
Here's a guy painting the wall.

A view from up top.

A reliquary. Gross.

I am not sure what these are or why the woman is missing arms.

The cool staircase.
Sisi! For those that don't know, she's Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Adrienne and I went to the Sisi Museum in Vienna, so you'll learn about her later if you don't already know.
Here I am with Sisi.
Just a lion looking out into the church.

A different staircase.

The outside of a staircase.
Adrienne removing her required scarf.

It was required because Adrienne is immodest.

We walked around the bastion a little more, which is a very interesting building. You have to pay to walk on it, but we discovered that you can walk straight into the restaurant and onto the patio that is still on the bastion and has basically the same view. That is something that they might want to watch more carefully. We discovered it by accident.

We saw a miniature car.

I took a lot of pictures of the view!
Because it's very beautiful.

This guy has quite the flourishing mustache.

Adrienne and Anna

Another side of the church.
We headed to the cafe there on the left to get something to drink. Nora joined us there. We chatted and had fun, then headed over to the palace and library.

We stopped at a pharmacy to get Adrienne eye drops because her eyes were itchy and one of them was swelling.

I saw these enormous diaper/pads. I had to take a picture.
Lots of Hungarian flags.
I believe this is where the Prime Minister lives, right smack dab in the middle of a huge tourist site.
That is a mythological Hungarian bird, which we also saw on our drive to Tata a couple days later. The bird was said to have appeared in a dream predicting the birth of the future king. I search online for the story and I believe the one I am going to copy here is correct, since it was the same story in a few different locations. I apologize if the information isn't true.

"A Hungarian legend tells the story of Emese, wife of Ügyek the descendant of Atilla the Hun, who once had a dream in which a Turul appeared to her. In this dream, a crystal-clear stream started to flow from her, and as it moved Westward, it grew into a mighty river. This dream represented her symbolic impregnation by the Turul, and meant that she would give birth to a line of great rulers. Emese later gave birth to Álmos, who was the father of Árpád, the great leader of the Magyars and founder of Hungary. This story reaffirms the Hun-Magyar kinship, and the knowledge that the Magyars reconquered Hungary as their rightful inheritance from Atilla's great Hun Empire. The great mythical Turul bird of prey is one of the most important symbols of the Hungarians. It represents their god's power and will. The Turul was seen as the ancestor of Atilla, and it was also the symbol of the Huns. The Hungarian Turul is often represented carrying the flaming Sword of God."

That's the Chain Bridge which I'll talk about in the next blog, because we walked over it.

Sigh. Anna. Sigh.
Another view of the birds behind.
This is part of the Royal Castle, which was originally built in 1265, but has many different additions from many other centuries. It has an extremely long and complicated history involving lots of battles and transfers power. If you are interested, google Royal Castle of Buda and it will lead you to several links. There are a lot of options to choose from! I would give you my own brief history of the castle, but I don't even know where to start!

The bird from another angle.
This is the Fountain of the Fishing Children

Just some children fishing.

Adrienne and I had matching tan lines.
This is Prince Eugene of Savoy during the Battle of Zenta in 1697.

The Prince and the Palace.

This was a couple who was sitting in perhaps the most awkward sitting position I have ever seen. It did not look comfortable and definitely made everyone around them uncomfortable. Naturally that meant I had to take a picture.

This is the Matthias Fountain.  King Matthias Corvinus is hunting with his hounds and they have killed a deer. It was damaged during WWII, but it was reconstructed afterwards. 

Two pairs of lions guard the gate leading into Lions Court. The lions on the outside are menacing looking, the lions on the inside are calmer and much less menacing. 

This is the Lions Court

These are the calmer lions

This is a horseherd. It is a horseherd taming a wild horse.
A wider view of the palace.

A raven reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe.

He was perched on top of a spider web door. Yikes

We walked down the hill from the Castle afterwards and headed towards the city center. We walked across the Chain Bridge, but that will be the beginning of the next blog!

We found this statue. I couldn't remember what it meant, but Lilly told me again. It's a 0 and it ind indicates the center of the country. As you drive around Hungary, there are a lot of different numbers and statues, which are the distance in kilometers between the location of the number and this statue.

We all took pictures with it. Anna and Adrienne posed.

If you look carefully, Allison is peeking through.
Allison is peeking through again.

And that is all for now!

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