Thursday, May 11, 2006

Following Don and Patricia

Ron and I both love this city, but as with anywhere you live, you get overwhelmed with life and the tedious tasks that are involved in it so one does not often take time to appreciate the surroundings. Having guests on a regular basis refreshes our love for this city and we cherish being able to see it through others’ eyes too. It is so insightful. With this said, let us see where Don and Patricia ventured to yesterday.

After breakfast, their first stop was the Great Market on Vámház körút 1-3. This market is one of five built in the city at the end of the 19th
On the second floor of the market are places to buy souvenirs and food. My choice is to pass-by the restaurant, which is a bit overpriced and venture to the food booths along the right side. For an authentic taste of Hungarian food, I highly recommend the langos. This is fried dough with grated hard cheese, ham if you choose, and garlic juice. There are other varieties to entice tourists, like Mexican langos, but this seems like a contradiction to authentic culture to me.
The great synagogue on Dohány was their next stop. With a seating capacity of 2,964 seats (1,492 for men and 1,472 for women in a separate gallery) it is the second largest synagogue in the world. The largest is in New York City. The beautiful structure is a combination of Moorish, Romantic,They close at 2:00 pm, so it is important to arrive early if you want to visit or take the tour. There is a museum on the premises and it is highly recommended. Hungary has a unique Jewish history during WW II. Don was intrigued that their tour guide was simplistic in her explanations, describing her memorized speech as Judaism 101. For those who have no knowledge of the religion, it could be refreshing, but for others stilted. Patricia would have preferred to have had time alone in the sacred space to sit in silence meditation. However, with tours in various languages continually dotting the interior, it is not possible. It occurred to her while there that no member of her family has been to a synagogue service since 1939. She lost family members in the Holocaust. With this in mind, it was pertinent and heartwarming for her that people like Raul Wallenberg stood up to the Nazis and others with malicious intent to aid so many people.
For a virtual Jewish history tour, visit this link.
After lunch, our wandering South Africans went to the Museum of Applied Arts, one of my favorite buildings in Budapest. Located at Ullői út 33-37, this magnificent building was built for the celebration of the Millennium in 1896 by Lechner and Pártos. The colorful tile entrance is in stark contrast to the interior, which has a Moorish flavor. The style is referred to as Hungarian Secessionist or Hungarian Art nouveau. Don being a photographer had to purchase a ticket for taking pictures. When he started snapping, the woman guard lunged at him to stop until he produced his supplementary ticket. Even this did not satisfy her when he started to place it back in his pocket. Although she had seen it, she wanted him to have it readily exposed hanging out of a pocket for her discernable eye to see at a moment’s notice. He found the porcelain and interior design well worth the price of a photo ticket.
As strange as it may seem to some, we always recommend the Kerepesi Cemetery to our B and B guests. Many times our guests will smile and nod appreciatively for the information, but secretly, I believe think we are crazy for the idea. Those who follow our advice return to thank us for the information. Don and Patricia are amongst the latter group.
They ventured to this splendid final resting garden of repose located at Fiumei út near Keleti train station. Don was amazed at the park like quality of the place with the great chestnut trees shading the residents. He was curious about the weeping angels on some of the graves wondering why the angels would weep when they had a new friend arriving in their domain. This was an interesting question that had not occurred to me. When you enter, you can get a map of the grounds. Here lie the most famous of the Hungarian elite who have build mausoleums to be remembered by. The art work is spectacular and original in many instances. For more information, visit
After dinner, the four of us went to the ballet at the State Opera House on Andrássy út 22. The building is considered one of the most important of Hungarian architecture, the architect being Miklós Ybl. It took nine years to complete. It is said that it was build for Empress Maria Teresa, but she ordered that it should be smaller than the one in Vienna. Looks can be deceiving as it looks small, but it seats 1,289 people. There are over fifty operas performed here a year, more than any other opera house in the world.
Ron had purchased tickets in what I consider the ‘nose bleed’ section of the Opera House. It is the top level and the balcony on the side. Tickets were only 800 Huf approximately $4.00. The ballet was Anna Karenina and a splendid performance.
Tickets can be ordered online and kept at the box office. For information about this, go to our website and then Links.
Patricia repeatedly states she needs to return to Budapest for a whole month to see all, absorb all, experience all. Not only are they both in awe of the spectacular beauty of the city, but Patricia is amazed with the safety of walking the streets at any hour of the day or night, the absence of children begging, and the contradictions of the horrors of the history as opposed to the wonderful pieces of art.
Tune in tomorrow for Patricia and Don’s next day in Budapest.
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