Eastern Europe:  Budapest, Hungary

We departed Romania by train, stopping at one station where the border police passed through the cars to stamp our passports as exiting Romania. We then continued to the next station where the Hungarian border police came through to examine and stamp our passports as entering Hungary. They were searching for refugees. One agent even carried a ladder to assist in his search of the train. We were back in the Schengen Zone. 

Romantic Budapest: riverboats cruising the Danube River

Budapest is a beautiful city. Much of it was rebuilt after the war in the neo-classical style (designed to look old.)  Budapest looks more affluent than Bucharest, Romania.

Unfortunately, the rain really put a damper on our 3 full days in Budapest. It isn’t much fun dashing around in the rain and one doesn’t see much riding the subway or trolleys. Even with a hood and umbrella I got totally soaked. Several times we took refuge in a Starbucks or hotel lobby to dry off.

On our first day in Budapest we took a great “free walking tour” with United Europe Walking Tours, several hours in the rain. We really wanted to take their afternoon Communism or Jewish Neighborhood tours, but we were already too wet.

We could have done much more if it hadn’t been so rainy.  The rain makes for some drab photos as well.

A view from Pest of the Chain Bridge and Buda’s Castle Hill.

The Parliament Building.

St. Stephen’s Basilica exterior looks dreary and drab in the rain. I lke the Hungarian name better: Istvan. He introduced Christianity to the Magyar and became their first King in the year 1000. The Latin text are Jesus’ words, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

A bright stained glass window inside St. Stephen’s.

The green grass and yellow trolley pack a terrific punch of color in ths monotone scene.

A somber memorial to the Jewish victims shot into the Danube in 1944-1945.

Art installations – just for fun, and with no ulterior messages – have replaced the old communist statues that were moved to Memento Park.

A giant Ferris Wheel, the “eye” of Budapest.

Our second day we enjoyed a walk through City Park and Heroes’ Square to the Szechenyi Thermal Baths where we passed 4 hours soaking in the different pools of various temperatures, saunas, and steam rooms. Visiting one of Budapest’s many thermal bathhouses is the number one thing to do while in Budapest – and it was so warm and relaxing to this tired, travel-weary body.

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The third day we were walking along the riverfront when it started to pour rain on us, again. We would’ve liked to escape by riding a trolley-car, but we didn’t have any currency smaller than a HUF 20,000 ($70). Unbelieveably, a bank wanted to charge a commission to break their local currency into smaller bills! A restaurant couldn’t break it for us either. After hanging out and drying up a bit in the Kempinski hotel lobby, the concierge sold me trolley tickets and we rode to the Central Market Hall and lunched on Hungarian food.

The Market Hall is the place to find Langos, a deep fried bread with sour cream, garlic oil and cheese.

Baths aren’t the only Turkish influence in Budapest. Fresh, fast food Doner Kebab shops are abundant. This entire meal for two meal cost only $7.35.

A touristy venue offered some delicious, but more expensive fare along with live music. This flavorful paprika-infused goulash beef stew and a plate of cheesy sausage and potatoes – without any beverages – cost $18.

VIGYAZZ – Isn’t that a fun word! The Hungarian language is extremely dfficult and is not similar to any of the languages of the surrounding peoples.

A beautiful train station, but beware of the taxi drivers. They have the reputation of being corrupt!

This last week we have seen some amazing places!

Leaving Budapest, we traveled first to Vienna, Austria and then to Prague, Czech Republic. Friday, we were on a 12-hour train trip to Zagreb, Croatia when our train connection was canceled. We were stopped dead in our tracks. We had finally collided with the “Syrian Refugee Crisis.” Because Slovenia closed its border with Croatia, and refugees were walking on the train tracks we were stuck for the night in Graz, Austria, 116 miles from our desired destination.

I haven’t had time to catch my breath yet, but I will tell you how we finally made it to Croatia next week when I’ll Meet You in the Morning!

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