NOTE: These travel pictures are from travels prior to us becoming nomadic in 2018. Like most of the world, we are staying put right now until the threat from COVID19 is either over or preventable via a vaccine.
Ah, Budapest! Ted took so many amazing pictures that I will simply let them tell the story of how beautiful this city is, and limit myself to the events of our arrival.
As many of you know, my mother emigrated from Hungary to Canada in 1948. Her family had vineyards in a town west of Budapest; during the war years, her mother (my grandmother) worked in the city centre of Budapest as a seamstress and maid to a wealthy family, sending home letters extolling the wonders of the city. My mother only visited it once, before the war, but was completely enchanted. It was the only place about which she got dreamy-eyed when relating stories. When I was a teenager, one of mom’s cousins who had stayed in Hungary sent me a lovely book: covered in navy blue linen, with gold embossing, it was a black and white photo book of Budapest, in 3 languages: German, English, and French, called “Budapest: bei Nacht, by Night, en Nuit”. The glossy photos of lighted bridges and shining buildings captivated me, and really brought mom’s stories to life.
The captain of the Viking Forseti, on which we travelled the Rhine, Main, and Danube Rivers in 2013, was Hungarian, and had been telling us how much he was looking forward to sharing “his” city with us as the grand finale to our journey. Our schedule would have us arrive in Budapest around 5 p.m – still bright daylight at the beginning of August – so he delayed our morning departure from Bratislava, and slowed our speed on the river, in order to bring us into the city under moonlight. The spectacle of Budapest’s iconic seven bridges (above) and the magnificent historic buildings on both banks of the river (below) bathed in gold and silver light, was breathtaking.
I stood on the upper deck in the breeze and cried, the gleaming lights of the city blurred by tears: for my mother, who had died in 2010 and to whom I had lost the chance to describe finally seeing Budapest; for all those torn from its beauty by the violence of war; for those who stayed and persevered through oppressive regimes; for those who left and could never return…. and for the sheer overwhelming beauty of it all.
The next day we toured all of the following: Castle Hill, Heroes Square, with its imposing statue of the Magyars and Mongols who represent the two halves of the city, Buda and Pest,Fisherman’s Bastion, from where we overlooked the parliament buildings on the opposite bank,
Matthias Church, with its mosaic tile roof and Eastern-influenced interior murals that reflect that it has been both a Mosque and a Roman Catholic church during its history,
St. Stephen’s Basilica, and its gorgeous tiled exterior square,several city parks with their statues and fountains, and made sure to buy some sweet Hungarian paprika, from a paprika-coloured cafe, to take home.￼
The bronze guard in the laneway leading to St. Stephen’s seemed to be wishing us farewell. We couldn’t help but notice a strong resemblance to Sergeant Schultz of Hogan’s Heroes. In that case, perhaps he was simply saying “Auf Wiedersehen”- until the next time we meet!