09/01/2016 - 09/09/2016 80 °F
The first 10 days of September 2016 find me in Budapest Hungary and Bucharest Romania as I continue my European trips. Budapest is Hungary's capital and was originally 3 cities separated by the river Danube. The hilly area west of the Danube river was known as Buda and the flat area to the west of the river was known as Pest. The first day in Budapest started out with a city walk starting in the Pest side near the Parliament building.
The walk will include famous sites on both the Buda and Pest sides and will go across the famous Chain Bridge
Next we saw the Matthias Church which is a 14th century church named for King Matthias
Our next stop brings us to the Fishermans Bastion. This is a terrace in neo-Gothic style that sits atop Budapest Castle and the views from it back towards Pest are incredible. It was built between 1895 and 1902 and was almost completely destroyed during World War II.
We now walk back across the Chain Bridge to see some sites in Pest. The first stop is St. Stephen's Basilica. It is built to honor Stephen who was the first King of Hungary. Inside is the right hand of Stephen enclosed in a box that you can see if you drop a coin into it. I already know what a right hand looks like, so that coin was later used to purchase one of the most popular things in Budapest, Ice cream. Don't ask me why but there were a ton of Ice Cream vendors every where we went and you always saw people walking around eating cones with ice cream in them. I was not terribly impressed, but I do have high standards so maybe I am not being fair on that aspect.
Still on the Pest side we walked around with no real plan in mind and just began investigating what all Pest had to offer.
Budapest is well known for its architecture and when darkness arrives, the structures are all lit up with lights pointing in every direction imaginable.
The next stop on my list of things to see takes me to Hero's Square. Here are statues of the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is a memorial to all the heroes who died for the freedom and Independence of everyone and the country.
On the final night in Budapest we headed towards the Liberty Statue that sits atop Gellert Hill overlooking the entire city of Budapest.
It was erected in 1947 in remembrance of the Soviet liberation of Hungary during World War II. The walk up to the statue was very steep and there were no lights on the paths so we really had to pay attention to our footing. There were a bunch of little viewing stations that pointed out over the entire city and most of them had people sitting in them having picnics and viewing the lights of the city. This was the last sight we had of Budapest as the next morning had us flying to Bucharest for the remainder of our trip.
Bucharest is very similar to Budapest in regards to history and their architecture. Bucharest was much more condensed in size and they are just now getting more tourists so there was a lot of graffiti on buildings still visible and almost all the main sites were under some sort of renovation as an increase of tourists is expected. This should help the country as it is very poor overall as the average monthly income of someone in Bucharest is only approx. $400.
The Memorial of Rebirth that commemorates the victims of the Romanian Revolution in 1989 which overthrew Communism. This monument has created a lot of controversy mainly due to its design.
Most of the sites we saw in Bucharest were by just walking around thru the city. A lot of the buildings are very similar to those in Budapest.
Holocaust Memorial depicting railroad tracks and the chimney from the cremation ovens. Notice the "star" made out of metal which creates a shadow when the sun hits it at the right angle.
During our time in Bucharest we planned a day trip to the Transylvania country side to see the Peles and Bran Castles as well as the medieval town of Brasov. Both Castles are in the Carpathian Mountains. Peles Castle served as the summer residence of the Royal Family until 1947. It was the first European castle entirely lit by electricity. Its 160 rooms are adorned with the finest examples of European art, Murano crystal chandeliers, German stained-glass windows and Cordoba leather-covered walls. Over 4,000 European and Oriental pieces dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries are on display in the armories. The castle did not allow photographs inside the actual castle but you were allowed to photograph the outside of the castle.
Brasov, the old city, founded by the Teutonic Knights in 1211, is one of the best preserved cities in all of Europe.
The final item to see for the day is Bran Castle located nearby. Bran Castle is commonly known as "Dracula's Castle". It is the home of the title character in Bram Stoker's Dracula but that is all made up as there is no evidence that Stoker knew anything about this castle. The real person associated with Bran Castle is Vlad the Impaler who was a Wallachian ruler that earned the nickname "Impaler" by dispensing with his enemies by impaling them on pointed sticks and leaving them impaled on the pointed stick to die a long and painful death. Very similar to what we experience when having to come back home from our travels to Budapest and Bucharest.
Unfortunately getting pictures of the outside of the Castle was impossible due to it being under major renovations for the large amounts of Tourism they are expecting in the future. I was able to get some pictures of the inside (this is no Peles castle thank you very much!) but that also proved to be challenging due to the large amounts of airhead teenagers running amok inside the castle on some sort of attempted prison escape. I behaved myself and only threatened 4 or 5 of them with an impaling of their own if they didn't straighten up and show some basic manners so that I could actually take in everything in the Castle. Bran Castle was much different than Peles. There was no gold crusted wallpaper, hand carved wood panels, marble, crystal or fancy dancy carpet. This was a true medieval castle with only the simplest furnishings.
Bran Castle finished the Budapest and Bucharest adventure so stay tuned for the next excursion........