Well, today was our last day in Budapest. We went to the House of Terror where many people were imprisoned during communist times in Budapest. There were actual cells where people were hanged and tortured. It was interesting to see, but also very eerie. We spent some more time shopping and resting. I am all packed and ready to go. It has been a wonderful time here in Budapest. I would like to thank all the amazing people we had lunch and dinner with here. They were nice hospitable people. The Hungarians are not well known, but I think people need to come here and experience their great hospitality. Köszönöm, Hungary and Budapest!
A night view of the Chain Bridge over the Danube River and from the Buda side of the city.
Freedom Statue stands in the background on the Citadel. Elizabeth Bridge is illuminated over the Danube River.
Buda castle can be seen from the flatter side of the river called Pest.
Sadly, today is our second to last day in Budapest. We went to Parliament in the morning to take a tour inside the building. The Parliament building is the third largest in the world. It is very beautiful and ornate both inside and out
We were able to see the actual chamber where Parliament meets to deliberate, which was interesting after we have learned about the new constitution and laws. I haven’t been inside a parliament before or even where Congress meets. It was interesting to see how ornate a government building can be.
We also saw the crown jewels. They were not as heavily guarded as the British Crown Jewels. The crown dates back about the 13th century.
The rest of the day we relaxed, which has been pleasant. The other women got flowers, I also got flowers, for International Women’s Day. So, thank all of the women in your life today!
Yesterday, we visited a company called Organica. This company is based out of Budapest, but also has connections in Richmond, Va. We met with the president and CEO, as well as one of the co-founders and other people involved in the company. This organization builds sustainable water treatment plants that replace old-fashioned water treatment plants. The employees showed us what they do with their technology and how it affects the community and the environment.
Organica is looking to give a grant to Ball State University, so we went to look at its facilities. It will hopefully build a blue house on our campus for educational purposes. The employees took us outside Budapest to two small towns.
We saw a wastewater treatment plant that gave sustainably treated water to a small wealthy town. The blue house uses plants and other biological organisms to clean the water for thousands of people.
The facilities they took us to are different from what would be at Ball State, but it was really cool to see their operations. They took us to a late lunch, and we discussed things about Hungary and Organica.
Then we went to a wine tasting. We tasted four Hungarian wines at a small winery. The wine was good, but I am not used to drinking that much wine. We even got to see inside the winery’s cellar, which was really neat because I have never been to a winery.
For dinner we met with two journalists that work for a magazine in Budapest. They talked with us about current situations in Hungary, Budapest and journalism. They showed us some of the famous ruin pubs, especially Szimpla, the most famous one in Europe. People come from all over the world to see this bar. Now I understand the hype. It had recycled furniture and decorations. It had art painted on the walls, chairs on the ceiling, lights everywhere and many other interesting items. I wish the U.S. had cool bars.
Today we went to the U.S. Embassy and talked with some people there about Hungary.
I took a short nap then went to lunch with a friend, which was interesting. We went to a small place around the corner from our hotel. The server didn’t speak English, and we didn’t have a lot of time to wait. Luckily we ordered the same thing, pasta. Then he understood that we had little time. The pasta was great, but we felt bad for being ignorant and annoying Americans. It was an experience.
We then went to a public relations firm that deals with large corporations around the world that are in Budapest and also small companies. We also talked about different issues in Hungary and how public relations operate in Hungary. Even though I am not in PR, it was still interesting to see some of the differences.
Later, we went to the Great Synagogue in Budapest. This synagogue has lots of gilded gold (more than the Opera House) and has many pews inside. The ceiling was beautiful as well as the front, but obviously there are no relics or idols like in Christian churches. It was interesting to see such a beautiful synagogue. I have only been to one before, but it was nowhere near the size or ornateness of that synagogue.
For dinner we met with other journalists. One was born in Hungary and the other was Hungarian, but born in South America and grew up in New Jersey. I liked hearing their journalistic lives in Budapest and the knowledge that they have about current issues. It was a very good dinner. The restaurant had cool signs and decorations, but sadly I didn’t have my camera with me. Overall, it was not too tiring of a day.
Another long day in Budapest … but we saw a lot of interesting things. First we went to Heroes Square that was erected in 1896 and acts like a gate to the city. The square has statues with Hungarian figures when the first settlers came to Budapest. At the other end is a long street with wide roads and old villas that the rich people lived in. As the street goes on, the road gets smaller and the buildings get taller. It is modeled after the Champs Élysées.
We visited a spa where they use natural hot springs for relaxation and medicine. This is a very popular process in Budapest. The hot spring is 75 degrees Celsius, and there are 1,200 public baths.
We also saw a model castle in the city that was used for the Hungarian Millennium. The castle had Gothic, Baroque, Romanesque and Renaissance architecture. The castle is a museum, and there is a small pond that is in use during the summer there. Our tour guide called it “Disneyworld in Budapest.”
We also went to St. Stephen’s church, which was gorgeous. This Catholic church was named after the first king of Hungary who brough Catholicism to the country. His mummified hand can be seen in the church. It is a very gilded and Baroque style church that looks like something out of Greece, Rome or even Paris.
George Washington is represented in Budapest, which you may not know. He is located in a park because he welcomed Hungarians that came to America for economic reasons. A famous Hungarian who was the “father of Hungarian democracy” is located in the United States.
We also went to the software company, Graphisoft where there is a new statue of Steve Jobs. The company did some business with him and wanted to create the statue because they value his ideas and forward thinking. It is an ugly statue, but it is nice to see him being recognized.
On the Danube River, there is a shoe memorial for Jews who were shot by the Nazis. They were told to take off their shoes, and then they were shot. Their bodies fell into the river and were forgotten. Candles and roses were placed near the small statues to honor those who were killed.
Lastly, we went on a tour of the State Opera House. We had a brief tour of the small auditorium and the boxes where the emperor’s wife used to sit. The architecture and the acoustics of the Opera House are fantastic. It had gilded gold on the inside and commemorated Greek gods and goddesses.
Tonight, we had dinner with some PR professionals and Hungarian college students. They all spoke wonderful English, which was very helpful. We talked about Hungary, America, college life and all sorts of things. Hungarian college students seem to have the same mindset we do. They are young and enjoying their lives right now. They love to socialize and have fun with their friends. They also really love Budapest and Hungary and don’t plan on leaving their homeland to live elsewhere. I think that is interesting. I want to stay in the U.S., but I am not so sure I feel that way about Indiana.
Today was another long day in Budapest, Hungary, but I am beginning to understand the culture. We started off on a guided tour with Akos. He took us near the Danube River, which is about the size of the Ohio River. We went to the other side, Buda or the older side. We went to the top of one of the large hills, which it seems more like a mountain, which was called St. Gerard Hill (pronounced Jared). There was an old fortress called Citadella (citadel). It was built by Emperor Francis Joseph of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
There was a beautiful view of the entire city from the Citadel. It was breathtaking! We saw three statues that represented liberty. Akos explained to us that the main statue was Lady Liberty, which was modeled after the statues in New York and Paris.
We then drove to Statue Park, which is centered around the communist regime in Hungary. The façade has statues of Lenin, Marx and Engles, the fathers of communism. On the opposite side of the road on a cement block were the boots from a Stalin statue. The rest of the statue was destroyed when the Hungarians rose up in the 1956 Revolution against communist rule. Hungarians destroyed other communist statues in 1956, too.
On the other side of the park, you can see that behind the statues of Marx, Lenin and Engles it looks like the back of a stage set. It symbolizes that communism was fake and the leaders were putting on a show. The park has three sets of figure eights with other statues throughout. The figure eights symbolize that people can’t get out of communism; it keeps going back around like a cycle. There was a large brick wall at the end of the park, which also symbolized that people are “trapped” inside; you cannot escape communism.
We later went near the Budapest Castle and St. Mathias Church. We walked around and saw more beautiful views of the city. We went to a marzipan shop. Marzipan is a sweet that has almond and sugar in it and it comes in different flavors. It was interesting, but I don’t think I could eat a lot of it.
We then went to the Holocaust Museum. This was an interesting museum because it also had lots of symbolism. It had 130,000 names of Hungarian Jews who had lost their lives in the Holocaust. There were 600,000 from Hungarians that were killed. We had a personal tour guide that took us through the museum and showed us the different types of Hungarian people that were persecuted and how their rights were taken away and how they were put into ghettos. Hungarian Jews were put into ghettos one month before they were deported and taken to camps. Many went to Auschwitz and probably didn’t survive.
Budapest’s Jews were saved because liberation happened before Budapest was raided of Jews. Budapest had a 25 percent Jewish population. At that time, Jews had basically been second class citizens and were not treated well by other Hungarians, let alone Germans.
It was graphic and depressing, but I have been to the museum in Washington, D.C., as well. I am surprised at how many Jews were killed in Hungary. Mostly in history class we hear about Poland, France and England, but not much about Hungary.
After today, I discovered that Hungarians DO NOT like to be occupied by other nations since it is the majority of their past. The Turks, Germans, Austrians, and Soviets all have occupied Hungary at different times. I was told by Akos (a native Hungarian who grew up in communist times) that Hungarians don’t like anybody except maybe Americans since we want them to be free.
We then went to dinner and met Atilla Schillnger and his girlfriend, Patricia. Atilla was a student in the U.S. and is a Ball State graduate. He knows Indiana and Muncie very well so it was interesting to talk about that and what he did while he was there. They told us about their time traveling in the U.S. last summer and about the Hungarian culture. They helped us order (which was very helpful since it hasn’t been that easy). We had a wonderful meal at a nice restaurant, and it was nice to speak English with them and not have a language barrier.
We have tried to learn some of the language. So far we have learned “thank you” and “sorry,” which are key words if you don’t know the language. I have been trying to understand it, but with my English roots and French minor, I am not getting far. Luckily, many people speak English. I hate being ignorant about what I am saying to natives. It makes me feel bad that I am not trying. Maybe by the end of the week, I will know more.
Today was our first full day in Budapest. We spent a long time traveling, but we made it. We did lots of shopping in the indoor market, which is HUGE. I got some paprika (Hungary is known for it) at the market. We also had our first official meal there as well.
We did some shopping on Vaci Street where I found doilies that are handmade and embroidered. I thought they were really cool. Each one is different because they are handmade. I loved them! I also got a scarf (there are many on Vaci Street) for a great price.
We went to a restaurant nearby barely staying awake enough to eat. I am going to bed early and starting a busy day in the morning.
Up early and headed to the airport this morning. I got my stuff all ready to go (feels like I actually packed light this time). My wonderful roommates are up early to take me and see me off in our stretch limo. I am praying for no delays, but there is bad weather coming our way. I am very tired, but excited to go to Budapest. It should be fun!
View of the both sides of the city from the Citadel.
Map of Modern Hungary.
Hungarian flag and crest.
Budapest and Hungary rave about Elvis because of his support of the 1956 Revolution against the Soviets. Budapest’s City Council recently approved a park in his name in April 2011. The park is located near Margaret Bridge on the Buda side of the Danube River. Voters chose the location on the city’s website. The list included 12 different landmarks from a location near a shopping mall and street corners.
Presley was named an honorary citizen of Budapest in March 2011. He supported the Hungarians for fighting the Soviets during his last appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” in January 1957. Presley performed “Peace in the Valley” in honor of the Hungarians. He asked the audience to donate to Hungarian relief efforts, which raised 25 million Swiss francs.
Budapest also has a statue of Steve Jobs, which was revealed December 2011 in Graphisoft Park. Graphisoft is an architecture software company in the city that is the first to have a statue of Jobs. Erno Toth created the sculpture that stands right outside of Graphisoft’s building downtown.
The park is the first technology park in Budapest. Other firms such as Canon and Microsoft have moved to the area since it opened in 1997. The park was created to bring people with the best skills in a green location directly on the Danube River
The company has had a relationship with Apple since the 1980s when Jobs saw Graphisoft’s first version of ArchiCAD. Jobs gave the company support for development and distribution of the software.
Apple’s investment helped the small company, which was confined politically and economically because of the communist rule in Hungary at the time. Job’s company introduced Graphisoft to the world, which helped its success.
George Washington is another American recognized with a statue in City Park. The park is located close to the center of Budapest. Washington’s statue survived the two world wars without damage.
The statue was made to create unity between Hungary and the United States.
Leaders of the revolt Louis Kossuth headed a revolt against the Hapsburgs in 1848 went to America. In 1902, Kossuth was honored as the “Father of Hungarian Democracy” with a statue in Cleveland. Hungary returned the gesture in 1906. By putting a statue of George Washington, the “Father of American Democracy,” in Budapest. The statues are a symbol of the struggle both countries endured to achieve democracy.
The American Hungarian Federation named Sept. 16 as “George Washington Day” in Budapest. The U.S. Ambassador to Hungary honored Washington in 2006, marking the 100th anniversary of its unveiling. The ambassador acknowledged the struggles both countries faced against different governments.
The State Opera House was contracted for the Hungarian millennium. The architect, Miklós Ybl, wanted the building to compete with the opera houses of Paris and Dresden. The State Opera House was finished in 1884 in the Neo-Renaissance style and is located on Andrássy Avenue.
It was equipped with modern equipment that was modeled after the opera house in Dresden. At the time it had been built, Ybl’s Opera House was the only standing opera venue in Central Europe because fires destroyed the Dresden and Vienna building.
The building has 16 statues of famous composers from Mozart to Hungarian composer Franz Liszt and Ferenc Erkel, the composer of the Hungarian national anthem and first director of the opera, is also outside of the house. The auditorium is gilded with more than seven kilograms, or 15 pounds, of gold. The auditorium seats 1,200 people.
The State Opera House is important to the history of the music in Hungary. This concert venue was the only opera house in the country before 1945.
Today the State Opera House has cotemporary, foreign and classic operas. Budapest is a hub for the national development of Hungarian music. “The Nutcracker” is a special event at Christmas. Tickets sell out quickly for well-known operas.
Franz Liszt, composer and pianist, was born Oct. 22, 1811, in Raiding, Hungary. His father, dám Liszt, played cello in the court of Prince Nicolas Eszterházy of Hungary. Liszt started composing at age 8 and was 9 when he made his debut as a pianist.
His father took him to Vienna to learn from Carl Czerny, a student of Beethoven. Liszt played many concerts in Vienna and received rave reviews from Beethoven. He moved to Paris in 1823, but was denied admission to the Paris Conservatoire because he was not French. He also toured in Germany; Switzerland; France; and England, playing for George IV at Windsor Castle.
After his father died, Liszt became a teacher and was plagued with illness and depression. For some time, he wanted to become a priest, but his mother eventually talked him out of it. For a few years, he refused to play the piano.
Liszt wrote his first 12 symphonic poems between 1849 and 1856. He also composed many religious pieces that were not published until after his death because of poor reception from the clergy. Overall Liszt composed more than 700 pieces. He died in 1886 in Germany as a well-known composer and virtuoso.
Budapest is home to the Academy of Music where Liszt was the first president. It is a school as well as a concert venue.
The building was constructed in the Hungarian Art Nouveau style in 1907.