Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More on Budapest

Budapest - city of contrasts. We have walked many areas of the city - seen buildings badly in need of repairs and grandiose buildings on majestic boulevards. We have been to the opera - a building beyond description with opulent decor. We went to hear Turandot and both agreed it is not our favourite opera. But it is wonderful to see the building as it supposed to be used. And the building was full - tourists and locals. So nice to see culture celebrated.

Here are a few impressions of the city-
  • computers are not as commonplace. At both the train station and at metro ticket booths, ticket people hand write receipts and do calculations with an adding machine. The internet cafes are busy with many Hungarians as well as tourists.
  • this is a human city. There are many pedestrian streets and beautiful squares filled with cafes. People sit and enjoy the outdoors. Cafe furniture is much more charming than in North America
  • Pansies seem to be the flower of choice - in city squares, in front of Parliament, in boxes.
  • Stores close around 2:00 pm on Saturdays - while it's hard on the shoppers, it does leave the workers with family time.
  • There are many sculptures around the city. - large statues in squares, smaller sculptures on main streets. Nice to be in a city that values art.
  • Church bells are a constant - every hour, every quarter hour, from many churches
  • The city is not particularly clean. Graffiti is everywhere and the buildings are coated with a grey soot.. There are many empty shops, particularly away from the tourist area and most small shops have bars on the windows and doors.
  • The architecture is what continues to surprise me - despite the state of some buildings there is much to admire with neo-Baroque and neo-Renaissance buildings.
We spent an afternoon in Szentendre, a delightful village with buildings dating from the 1700s. The streets are cobblestone. It has become a centre for artists with many museums and galleries. We visited the Margit Kovacs Museum - dedicated to Kovacs' work. She was a ceramicist who experimented with many styles. Mainly we wandered the streets - stopped by the Danube - a much quieter sit than in Budapest and enjoyed the architecture and views. When we were at the Serbian church, we stopped to peek in and heard the priest chanting - quite a treat. We ate dinner on an outdoor terrace before taking the very rickety train back to Budapest.

A visit to the main Synagogue was a highlight. The architecture and decoration were unique and the visit to Raoul Wallenberg Square behind, a memorial to the Hungarian Jews who suffered and perished during the Holocaust was a very moving experience.

Budapest has been a good experience. Tomorrow on to Zagreb.

Still travelling...

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