Tag Archives: budapest

An Anniversary in Budapest

Three years ago, Jesse and I got married.  We wanted to go to Europe on our honeymoon, to a romantic destination that was less expensive and less cliché than Paris.  We decided on Budapest . . .

. . . but we never bought plane tickets.  We thought of a million practical reasons why we shouldn’t go to Europe that summer, and we were filled with quite a bit of anxiety about moving to Michigan, Jesse starting grad school, and me finding a job.

In the end, our honeymoon was a spur-of-the-moment camping trip on the beach in the state of Delaware.  We had a great time.  I will always remember watching dolphins leaping in the waves while the sun rose over the Atlantic ocean.

Yet I did have a lesson to learn about not waiting to do things that I am really passionate about.  There will never be enough money or enough time.  There will always be a really good reason to not take a risk.  Sometimes you should do things anyways.  (You wouldn’t think I have a problem with being overly cautious, given that Jesse and I got engaged after dating for only three months and married three months after that.)

But this year we spent our anniversary in Budapest.  The same excuse of not having enough money would have applied–but I want to get the most out of Europe before I go home, even if this means we are reduced to eating raman noodles when we move to back to the States.

So, we took the train to the capital on Saturday morning.  We went to the Museum of Applied Arts and got in for free with our teacher cards.  The special exhibit was on Hungarian Art Deco, which seems as unique as Czech Cubism.  I love how Hungarian Deco was inspired by traditional folk designs.

The building that houses the museum is as amazing as any of the furniture it contains.

That evening, we took a cruise on the Danube.  Unfortunately, the sun sets so late now that we didn’t really get to see the city lit up at night.  But in the last five minutes of the cruise, the Chain Bridge was illuminated.

On Sunday, we went to the Hungarian National Museum.  Once again we got free admission with our teacher cards!  Jesse and I were in history geek heaven looking at medieval tomb stones and paleolithic artifacts.  Too soon we had to catch the train back to Debrecen.

I guess we were right to choose Budapest as our honeymoon destination.  It is a city we could visit over and over again.

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Filed under architecture, art, Hungary, Travel

A Blustery Afternoon in Budapest, 3.31

On March 31st, Jesse and I bade farewell to Debrecen . . .

Debrecen Train Station Artwork

. . . and headed to Budapest for the afternoon.

Our first mission was, of course, to find food.  We tried out The Hummus Bar, a popular restaurant that currently has four locations in Budapest.  It was vegetarian heaven, but the experience was a little hard on my ears.  The diners were over 50% international, and most of them seemed to be American, particularly undergraduate-aged women.  I’m not used to hearing so many American accents, and I had a hard time tuning out their conversations.

After stuffing ourselves, we paused to take some pictures of St. Stephen’s Basilica.  It is a truly massive church.

From there, we hopped on the metro to head to Hero’s Square.  Jesse and I were chatting away when someone called our names.  We turned around to see our friends Bobby and Kellie–along with their jet-lagged family–in the same car as us!  It was a funny coincidence.

We emerged from the metro to find ourselves in a crowd of several thousand people.  This seems to happen a lot in Budapest.  There was some sort of religious procession ending at Heroes Square.

Because I can’t go to Budapest without seeing a museum, Jesse and I headed over to the Museum of Fine Arts.  The last entry was technically 4:30 PM, but we snuck into line at about 4:38 PM.  The ticket lady was kind and let us in anyways.

When I handed my ticket to the guard, I said “jó napot kivánok,” which made him chuckle.  He seemed pleased that I knew this standard Hungarian greeting.

Everyone we encountered that day (in fact, for the entire week) was friendly and helpful, which makes traveling so much more enjoyable.

*WARNING: ART TANGENT*

With less than an hour before closing, we had to be strategic about what to look at.  The museum has a good collection of pieces by El Greco and Goya, so I sought these out.

It’s hard to believe that El Greco was a Spanish Renaissance painter from the late 16th/early 17th centuries.  His style is very expressionist.  Many of his pieces seem like they could have been painted centuries later.

Mary Magdalene in Penitence by El Greco

(Source: http://www.in-between.org.uk/arts-and-crafts/the-loss-of-the-sense-of-the-sacred/)

Goya was an artist for the Spanish Court in the late 1700s/early 1800s.  He witnessed the cruelty of the Inquisition and the invasion of Spain by Napoleon’s troops, but he chose to remain neutral in the political drama that surrounded him.  His subject matter is diverse, ranging from royalty to peasants to depictions of war.

The Water Carrier by Goya

(Source: http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/ra-magazine/autumn-2010/hungarian-rhapsody,252,RAMA.html)

After learning so much about the Renaissance while in Florence, I spent a lot of time looking at the Italian pieces.  There were no paintings by my new favorite, Lippi, but there was one by his son and one by his assistant.

Madonna with Child by Filippino Lippi

(Source: http://www.artrenewal.org/pages/artist.php?artistid=2693)

I couldn’t find an image of the painting by Fra Diamante, but to me his Madonna looked like Lucrezia, Lippi’s model and lover (she was also a nun).  I am so captivated by her beauty and by her story.

*END ART TANGENT*

After soaking up as much art as we could in under an hour, we emerged into a beautiful–if windy–spring afternoon.  We strolled down Andrássy út, a very grand boulevard.  Some of the neo-Renaissance buildings have been preserved and restored while others are crumbling, but the architecture is beautiful regardless.

When gray rain clouds began to cover the sky, we stopped for some cake at a cafe.   Then we went back to our hotel to try to get some sleep before our 6:00 AM flight to Sicily.

Getting to experience Budapest on multiple occasions and in different seasons is one of the special aspects of living and teaching in Europe.  I feel very lucky, and I hope to explore this fascinating city some more before we head home in June.

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Filed under architecture, art, Budapest, churches, Hungary, Travel

Autumn in Budapest

Jesse and I enjoyed an afternoon in Budapest last Saturday.  Our train from Debrecen deposited us at Keleti Station, and we had four hours until the next train left for Bratislava.  This was just enough time to have lunch and stroll through City Park.  (Being history fanatics, we also squeezed in a visit to a museum.)

The park was full of people relaxing and dogs chasing after sticks.  Leaves blanketed the ground in golden orange.  I find Jesse’s coppery hair to be most stunning at this time of year!  He fits right in with the autumnal color palette.

In the park, we found a statue of Anonymous.  The name of this famous twelfth-century chronicler is unknown, but he wrote the first surviving work on the ancient Hungarians. Touching his pen brings good luck.  He is quite a popular fellow.  Tourists (like myself) enjoy posing with him.

Anonymous sits in front of Vajdahunyad Castle, which is a faux-castle constructed at the end of the nineteenth century.

An amalgam of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture, it also houses the Agricultural Museum.

The Gothic section is based on a real castle in Transylvania.


As the light faded, we scurried back to the train station and set off for another European capital city.

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Filed under Budapest, Hungary, Travel