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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Day 19, April 9, Budapest, Hungary

Yesterday we said goodbyes to folks that were on the Amsterdam to Budapest portion of the trip.  On awakening this morning we found the hallways lined with luggage of those folks.  Bill and Frank from Houston who had finally been able to marry this year.  Margaret, also from Huston, and her sis who were travelling as sister time together.  Folks from Calgary that could not believe we knew how to pronounce Kananiskis.  The couple from Toronto that had a cabinet business providing some upscale hotels.  Lots of nice folks!  By tonight about half of the guests would be new faces.

This was a free day in that no tours were offered.  We wanted to get photos of the bronzed iron shoes along the river.  Also, just wanted to poke around in some of the areas we passed yesterday.  Our ship was docked within walking distance of Parliament, parks, shopping and restaurants galore.  With our tummies fortified by the excellent breakfast we sat for a bit and studied maps.  With a plan in our mind, Hubby's camera, (mine was charging) walking sticks and good shoes we set out on yet another adventure.

It can be difficult to think of the Holocaust on vacation.  It is even more difficult to hear the back story of the Shoes on the Danube.  As it was becoming apparent that the Allies would be winning WWII.  There was not going to be time for the Hungarian Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944–45 to ship the Jewish people to the concentration camps.  They began lining them up along the river, stripping of all clothing and shooting the persons.  The bodies would fall into the river and be swept away downstream.  As ammunition became more scarce, victims would be tied together and only the first person would be shot.  As that body fell the others would be pulled or pushed into the Danube.  At the end of each massacre, empty shoes and clothing would litter the river banks.  This memorial is a chilling reminder of just how far human hatred can go.  Hate is not new.

People have left all kinds of things to honor the people these shoes represent.  The shoes look like leather.  Shoes of all sizes and manner.  Baby shoes.  .. .. ..
Attila József

With a prayer for the lost souls and for peace in our world today, we moved on to just being tourists.  We found the crosswalk and worked our way up to the level of the Parliament and surrounding buildings.  A statue commenting one of Hungary's great poets, Attila József.  Because we could not read the language explaining the statue we did not have a clue.  The gaunt state of the human led me to think it was another holocaust tribute.  No, just a very poor Hungarian boy that grew up to be a wonderful poet and died at 32 years old.

Yesterday's post was crammed with photos.  We had taken almost 500 shots that day.  This day, well, my camera battery died.  So, not so much lovely architecture today.  Hubby did get this shot of the city side of the Parliament building and its grounds.
By now it was time for a coffee/loo break.  I promise I will not give you TMI.  A small restaurant, The Grey Goose, was a couple of doors down from the Parliament area.  It looked promising.  In we pop.  Hubby orders an espresso and a pastry.  It was cool enough that ear muffs felt good so I choose Dutch hot chocolate. Hubby loved his goodies.  I sat amazed as I was served a very thick, rich, dark almost pudding in a cup.  OMgosh!  It was as tasty as could be.  It was definitely not your Nestle's instant.  Later research showed this was a version of hot chocolate made in Italy.  So will I have to visit Italy to have Hungarian hot chocolate?

All refreshed from the multipurpose stop we head out again with map in hand.  Too bad we still have not figured out which way in north. That makes map reading and street choices so much easier.  I was trying to find the street with all the nice shopping the guide had told us about yesterday.  Trying to find a name on a map in a different language can be challenging.  We gave up and headed back toward Parliament and some nearby parks.

The first thing of interest is a bridge.  I am not sure why a bridge was chosen for this memorial to the leader of the 1956 Hungarian Independence uprising.  Though Imre Nagy was a Communist, he wanted an independent Hungary.  He was hung by the Soviets for treason.

From this memorial we moved down a diagonal street into the Liberty Square.  This park had families enjoying picnics and walks on that Saturday.  Spring is just beginning here as in many places along the Danube.

A couple of blocks and we were intrigued by these motorized small carriages.  One had to watch for these as apparently they have the right of way!  Now we have arrived in a restaurant and shopping district.  Just not 'the one'.  That is okay as people watching fun is more enjoyable than shopping today.

It was interesting, also, seeing how this city is reclaiming itself or renovating itself as a member of the EU.  One person commented that Germany had won the war after all since they control so much of the money.  That was a new way of thought for me.

A couple of blocks further and we moved over a street and began seeing more activity.  And we came across The Fat Cop statue.

Dad always talked about a bellican like a pelican when he would rub is sizable tummy.  So we could not pass up this photo op.  The fellow pedestrians were enjoying the photo, too.

We decided to follow the cop's advice and take this street.  It proved to be a great choice.  A few building and gate shots.  Then the best little souvenir shop!  We found t-shirts, the mini steins with Budapest Parliament and Chain Bridge on them.  A stacking doll for me as well as another scarf.  Numerous other items were purchased for future gifts.

Okay, we were nearing my knee limit on the little jaunt.  We decide to just meander back in the general direction of the boat.  In order to cross the streets one sometimes just had to dare to make it as crosswalks were no where in sight.  We walked in front of "The Four Seasons" but not stars in sight.

However, across the street in a small green space a young couple was having wedding photos shot!  Life continues all around us.  We decided if there is a green spot, people need to plant a statue commemorating something or someone.  This statue is Count István Széchenyi.  He deserves this honor as he gave a year of his salary to start The Hungarian Academy of Sciences.  The he initiated construction of the Széchenyi (Chain) Bridge.
The Man with the Academy of Sciences just off camera to the left.  
Pest entrance to the Széchenyi (Chain) Bridge

This is a tree on the square that is reported to be the oldest tree in the city.
 With the skies trying to decide if they wanted to storm or clear, we crossed the road and headed for the ship.
A little more rearranging of clothing, admiring the new treasures and packing away for the trip.  Soon it would be dinner and with new guests we might need to look presentable. Instead of chatting with the new passengers, those of us from the Amsterdam portion of the cruise seemed to continue sitting with each other.  Oh, well, only 8 days left and energy is running a little lower.  Cocktails at 6 then dinner around 7:30.  Shot a few night shots with the recharged camera on a small tripod.  We returned to the lounge to enjoy some Hungarian dancers.  Then hung around to watch as we cast off for Kalocsa, Hungary.  And what a show this turned out to be as we cruised past the lights of Budapest.

Before the ship left the dock, Hubby stepped ashore for this shot of the bridge and Buda Castle.
Hubby's handiwork
Videos as we were sailing on the Danube.

And, yes, the building was sparkling!

The Parliament Building as we sailed past.  The music was the pianist in the on board lounge.  Man life can be pretty nice sometimes.

See you tomorrow for the next port in Kalocsa, Hungary.  Another very full morning of touring, learning and enjoying a different part of the world!
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