Friday, January 22, 2010

Paris of the East

It was interesting to be a tourist again in my adopted hometown of Budapest.
The first night there we ventured out for some live music and beverages. We had to take the metro and since it was late the ticket booth was closed and the ticket machine was broken, so we went without. By some grace of the almighty 30 Americans were able to go undetected and we were saved from what would have been a very unpleasant encounter with the transportation police.

We visited a few sites that I had not visited since I first arrived and our tour guide gently reminded me of how patriotic Hungarians can be and how it can sometimes muddle historical facts. This also means that they never let you forget how tragic Hungarian history is.
During our stay we visited the Fisherman's Bastion and then St. Mattias Church which throughout history was used for many different purposes. It was a catholic church, then it was a mosque under the Ottoman rule and I even heard (but am not entirely convinced) that during WWII it was used as a horse  stable by the Nazis. It was also the coronation church for the kings and where our Bohemian friend Charles IV had his coronation.

At Hero's Square I was also surprised to learn about what some of the details of the statues mean. There is one horse that is sporting some antlers and the legend says that the warriors put the antlers on their horses so they could trick their enemy into thinking that some unearthly beast was charging at them. I don't think it worked too well, Hungary was occupied several times by several different groups. Ottomans, Hapsburgs, the Soviets, and now tourists.

I may be biased but so far on my travels I think Budapest is the most photogenic city, especially at night. Everything looks spectacular lit up, and it is all concentrated along the riverside and offers great city scape. A boat trip down the Danube almost always offers great vistas of the parliament and palace and produces some lovely pictures. I have been living there for nearly four years and I will never get tired of the view. There is a reason why it is called The Paris of the East.


1 comment:

Jodi said...

Budapest is gorgeous at night - did you notice they light up the green bridge these days.