Thursday, June 11, 2009

Budapest - Day 3

So day Three was a bit of a cluster - I'm not going to lie. It was a Sunday which didn't help b/c lots of stuff isn't open on Sunday. I think we knew that in the back of our minds but weren't thinking clearly.

So we started off the day trying to go to the Central Market. Trying being the key word b/c it was closed on Sunday:( Note to self for anyone coming to Budapest - try to go on a weekday or Saturday before 2 when they close for the weekend. I think Nathan was secretly happy as this was a shopping place and now I couldn't go.:)'s all coming together now - he did plan the itineraries.......

Anyway, from here we crossed the Liberty Bridge into Buda to see the Liberty Statue and Citadel. To our knowledge there was no way to get to the top of the hill where it was located by public transport so we had to walk. I stopped counting at 500 stairs but it was waaaaaaay up there and it was really hot. The only thing Nathan said climbing up was "Poor Bob":) But the location of the Liberty Statue is part of its charm - you can see it at night looking over the city - very cool. Here are some pics. The first one is of me at the top. The second is us with the view from the top. And the third one I took at the bottom so you could kind of tell how far it was up and how many steps it might take.

Next onto Memento Park - we missed the "direct bus" from Deak Ter by about 15 minutes (totally sucked) - but I did have directions on public transport so we took that. About 45 minutes later we arrived - in their defense they did say it was a "little" outside the city. The reason it took so long was b/c we made a lot of stops in neighborhoods. But I did think that was kind of cool b/c we could see how the average person lived in Budapest.

Anyway, and I don't mean to offend anyone - and if you liked this park then let me know - but it wasn't really what we expected. Not sure what we expected - just not that. It honestly looked like someone collected all the statues after the collapse of socialism, found a cheap plot of land, and marketed the hell out of it to tourists. Some of the marketing said "...Providing a glimpse behind the iron curtain, the Park is one of the most spectacular sights of Budapest." I don't think so. It might have been better if there were signs on each statue to say what they represented but there weren't (let me correct myself - it would have been nice to have signs in English not Magyar). I totally understand them hating the statues of Stalin and Lenin, but there were other statues that I didn't get the meaning behind from just looking at them. Almost at the end of the walk around the Park, I heard this woman explaining to two Americans what one of the statues meant and then she walked with them to the next and explained that too. Come to find out they do have personal guides - not sure how we missed that - and I looked at the cashier window on the way out and I didn't see it stated anywhere. Either way - I'm sure that would have enhanced the experience.:) Still if you have limited time I wouldn't recommend this "excursion". There are several other places I would recommend instead (of course all these places were recommend to us AFTER we got back by people who had been to Budapest - but whatever:) I mean I talked about that fact that we were going for weeks! Does no one listen to me? :) )
Across the street was a movie about the life of a secret communist agent (which was kind of cool) and info about the revolt in 1956 when the crowd pulled down Stalin's statue leaving only the boots. One of the weirdest things was an entire shop selling only Communist stuff -red army medals, soviet souvenirs, flasks and cigarette-lighters with the red star. I mean who would actually use that? I'm sure it was supposed to be satirical but if you pulled out a flask at a party with a Communist Symbol do you think anyone would think that was funny? I wouldn't - but maybe it's just me.

And then to top it all off - we missed the direct bus going back by like 2 minutes - kind of figured at that point. Then it started pouring down rain (which continued for the rest of the day) and we had to stand at a bus stop for 20 minutes for the next 45 minute bus ride back into town! Good Times!

Here are some pictures we took at Memento Park. The first is just Nathan standing in the middle with his WTF face on.:) The next is me with the Republics of Councils Monument - I wasn't sure what it meant but it was in all the marketing pieces so I thought I should take a pic of it :). Finally Nathan with the very scary statue of a communist solider that "guarded" the Liberation Monument.
Next on to Parliament - I had read that it was open on Sundays which was surprising but I was very happy! We arrived from Memento Park to Parliament at 2:15 pm to find out the last tour of Parliament on Sunday is at 2:00 PM. Was our day really going like this?:) Can you see a pattern?:)

So we figured we would hit the 3 o'clock Opera Tour instead of the 4 o'clock. This made up for everything. I thought the opera was beautiful and I highly recommend it. I wish we could have seen a performance - maybe in Vienna! Anyway, here are some pics. The first two of our the main seating and stage area. Then the "royal stairs" and me waving (elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist, wrist) at the top - I couldn't resist - I always wanted to be a princess:)! And finally us in one of the beautiful stair ways.

It was still raining but it was early so we decided to walk around Margaret Island in the rain - why not right? There was some sports event going on so lots of people were there in though it was pouring. We had a good time walking around and thought this would have been a cool place to hang out in the sun! We didn't take too many pics here b/c of the rain - but it did let up a few times. We ALWAYS have to take a pic if there are deer "held captive" somewhere - Nathan loves it.:) So here is Nathan with the deer on Margaret Island.:) Who knew the Island was so big! We finally caught the only bus on the island (#26) and headed home - soaked! (We did have umbrellas though - we aren't complete idiots).
We had dinner at some Italian place near our hotel as we really didn't feel like going too far out as it was STILL raining.:( It was good though and I got to try more Hungarian wine - yeah!!!! (Seriously love the stuff). And I found out that I like duck - who knew? Nathan got duck lasagna and it was to die for! So I learned I liked two new foods this trip - eggplant and duck -my mom would be so proud.:)

B/c of the rain we didn't take the night time cruise on the Danube which was a totally bummer. I hate to miss any opportunity to "be on a boat".:) So we took a night cap of ice cream - I AM married to Nathan Becker.:)

All in all VERY AMAZING TRIP!!!! We loved Budapest and I am already ready to go back and do a few things we didn't have time for. Anyone want to book a trip?:)

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