Friday, September 6, 2013

Dining and Drifting on the Danube

We are still adjusting to the time difference a little, and ended up getting away from the hotel at around 10:30a.m. In the next block as we walk towards the Ggyongyosi Utca metro station there is a large empty lot with iron gates. The area of the lot is at least 2 ac. and there is sits vacant. I would think someone would use it for something...but there you go.

Where we get off the metro at Deak Ferenc there is a building with heroic figures on plinths on the exterior.

These 2 are representing medicine and nursing, or something like that. There are several more and are representative of modern Hungary industrialism and strength.

This fine fellow is representative of rail transportation. Hungary has an extensive rail system and is used by the populace and tourists for fast efficient and economical transportation. It's not as fast as driving, but with gas at a little less than $2 per liter, or about $8.00/gal. the train makes sense.

This is Deak Ferenc St. It is modern, cosmopolitan and expensive. A number of well known designers and couturiers would be located here.

If you're feeling peckish, there is a restaurant sandwich board luring you to a local eatery. The deer antlers are there to reassure? you that the food is good. How, I'm not entirely sure. The pricing is in the vicinity of $20-25.

I am not sure who this little fellow is, nor why he's wearing the sweater. It would help if there was a plaque or something, but no.....As we walked by there was a street cleaning worker fishing a pair of high heels out of the pond. And there it is!

We had tickets for the Hop-On - Hop Off bus, so the next set of pictures are taken while we are on the bus. It goes to most of the popular sights and areas within the city and affords us good pictures from the upper deck. This is one of the buildings on Andrassy Utca, which is Budapest's most famous shopping district.

This is a frieze of some notable in some battle somewhere. Aren't I just a fount of information. All the historical facts just seem to run together after awhile. I should be paying closer attention, but there you go...

This is one of the four heroes in Four Heroes Square. Which hero? I dunno. There I go with the helpful information again. I'll try and do better.

Another hero.....nuff said.

One of the buildings had gargoyle-like sconces. Patsy says they're supposed to scare demons away. I know they look freaky enough.

More gargoyle sconces. These are on the building that houses the New York Cafe. It is considered the world's best and most expensive coffee shop. We satisfied ourselves with a picture. We can get our coffee somewhere else. One part of their schtick is that with every order you get a beautiful postage paid postcard to send to anywhere in the world to advertise that you have been to the "world famous" New York Cafe and restaurant. Canny advertising.

Here it is. The World Famous edifice extraordinaire. Our Forints were safe in our pockets. If you should happen to have a hankering for a hamburger it will set you back $17.50. Oh, did you want fries or a drink with that? Another $10-12 or so. You do get to enjoy it beneath a Venetian glass chandelier, so you've got that going for you.

We carried on and had a little nosh in the Cafe Marvelosa on the bank of the Danube. I had some coffee, lemonade and a dessert of Poppy Seed cake served with whipped cream and a wing of pastry with a loose custard. Very light and not too sweet, as are most European desserts. Just what I needed.The map of Budapest shows us where we will be going next.

I snapped a picture of the restaurant. It's intimate, artistic and friendly. The owner is an older Hungarian lady who speaks no English but is very accommodating.

This picture shows some of the artwork on display. A lot of it features a lady that may or may not be the owner at a younger age.

The artwork is similar on the other wall. There we can see Scooterchick enjoying her Paprika Chicken. (Paprika, who knew?)

This is an exterior shot of the cafe. It is cozy, read small and demure, read unassuming. The price of lunch was pretty inexpensive considering the quality of the food and the excellent service.

After lunch we strolled across the street to the riverbank and took a picture looking upriver. Budapest is dominated by the river, which we call the Danube, and which they refer to as the Duna.

My phone which I have been using exclusively as my camera for about a year now has a panoramic function. Although I have little experience with it, I figured i'd give it a go. Here's the result. 

The bus continues along the river before climbing towards the Duna Castle. This is the St. Matthias' church. Matthias the 2nd. was a much beloved king of Hungary, had paid for the construction of this imposing bit of architecture.

This is a statue of St. Matthias. He was a warrior king Matthias Hunyady, also known as Matthias Corvinus who acceded to the throne at age 15 and succeeded as king of Hungary in driving back the Ottoman Turks and the Czechs, both of whom had designs on Hungary's territory.

As the bus wound it's way up to the Castle Heights one could look down upon the city. I did look down and took this picture so you could look down as well.

The castle was completely rebuilt after having been totally destroyed during WWII, the big one. Of note is the fact that there had been a fortification of some sort here even before the Romans arrived and named it Aquincum. The Royal Family of Hungary decided it was the best place for a castle, easily defensible and sort of "kicked the townies down the hill" so that they could have enough room to build. The Castle Heights is only an area about 3/10 mile by just under a mile in size, barely enough to build a decent sized castle and wall around it.

Here are your intrepid travelers on the bus.

Another lovely shot overlooking the city. The Danube does look blue from this vantage point, doesn't it?

This is the Hungarian Statue of Liberty. It was raised in 1947 after the Soviets helped the folk kick the Nazi's butts. At that time the inscription read "To the memory of the liberating Soviet heroes [erected by] the grateful Hungarian people [in] 1945"

The grateful Hungarians eventually realized that the best, brightest and most profitable of everything Hungarian was being pillaged by the Commies and after kicking their butts out the inscription was changed in 1989 to read "To all of those who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom and prosperity of Hungary".  Long live a free and prosperous Hungary.

As we rolled down off Castle heights we crossed the Elizabeth Bridge. This bridge was demolished in WWII (the big one) and was rebuilt in 1957.

This is Kossuth Lajos Utca which leads downtown from the Elizabeth Bridge. Some baroque buildings are still standing here.

We got off the bus to investigate St. Stephens church. This is the largest church in Budapest, and the Hungarian people are nominally Catholic, although in practice they are very much into fortune telling and other occult practices.

This is a statue outside said church off St. Gregory (the illuminator). Yeah, I don't know about the illumination but he was the patron saint of Armenia, so there it is.

Here we have St. Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin. I don't know, it was somewhat before my time.

After paying our entrance fee of 200HUF each, we were graciously allowed into the sanctuary. The priest on the door said, Forint, Euro or American dollars, $5, $10 a million $ "for the maintenance of the basilica!" Shameless Marian hucksterism. We paid because we wanted to see the interior, but remembered Martin Luther's war against the selling of indulgences.

There were a number of crypts inside as is common to most RC Cathedrals throughout Europe. The size of the church seems to be only limited by the number of wealthy patrons who want to be buried inside and have the necessary number of pieces of silver to pay for a crypt.

I took a picture of the dome by turning my lens to "selfie" and aiming until the dome was in view. I thought I might "photobomb" myself in this picture for a lark.

I wanted to get the pipe organ, and caught Scooterchick as well.

Unbelievably, the actual "holy" right hand of St. Stephen is kept here as a "holy" relic. Considering the number of actual relics in Europe, I am sure there are at least 4 or 5 other actual holy right hands of St. Stephen are in existence as well as several each left hands, and feet of both right and left conformation.

Here we have it. The genuine article. I remain spectacularly unimpressed on the entire subject of relics and the reliquaries that hold them.

There were however a number of spectacular stained glass pieces. Now, that's something I can get behind. That a merciful God would gift some folk with the ability to create these enduring works of pious art.



There was also this lovely Majolica frieze as I left the sainted chapel.

This is the view over St. Stephen's Square. The day wanes, as do the tourists.

By now our caffeine quotient was sadly lacking, and we stopped to refill our tanks. This place was called the California Coffee Company. Everyone knows that the real coffee comes from the Great North Wet.....haha.

We enjoyed our beverage on the terrace and chatted with some Germans who were vacationing from Berlin, Christian and Margit. Our table was the last one before the lamp post, where we could watch the passing parade.

We started walking but I shot a picture back the other direction before heading towards Elizabeth Square.

We made our way to Tram #2 that runs along the river. We were headed for an excursion boat that was part of our tour.

We saw a sculpture of a girl playing with a dog. The dog seemed reticent to give up it's ball for another throw. Aw....c'mon.

Here are your genial companions Scootard and Scooterchick waiting for our ship to come in.

The sun is slowly setting in the west. The time is give or take about 7p.m. Our Yacht is about due.

Here we are on the elderly barge which will be our tour boat for the next hour or so. we were lucky to get a seat up top.

The sun not surprisingly continues to set as we set sail, headed up the Duna for a looksee from the water side.

This is the Hungarian Parliament. Quite impressive no?

This is one of the many churches that dot the landscape. Which one, I am not sure, nor would I care to hazard a guess.

This shot shows the downstream side of the Chain Bridge, the tunnel through the Castle Heights and the funicular railway by which one may ascend said heights.

This is the Gellert Hill Cave which was in use by a poor family since 1877. A group of Pauline monks, enclosed and expanded the cave starting in 1920 and used it as a hospital until 1951, and used for religious services until 1956, when the Soviets executed the friar and gave lengthy prison sentences to the monks. It was returned to the monks in 1989 and is in use today.

This is the Elizabeth bridge illuminated for the benefit of all who see and marvel as the sun fades and we travel on.

This is the University of Technology and Economics. It is quite a large structure. Must be a lot of Technology and Economic thought and theory being promulgated within, wouldn't you think?

This building reminds me of an upside down canoe. It is the newly opened CET building which incorporates new design elements and old warehouses. It is a multi use building which has retail, office and event space.

Another bridge illuminated and reflected in the Danube. Niiiiiice!

I do love arches. This one is enclosed with an art structural gate. It is both ornate and functional. These elements are holdovers from the days when everything needed to be locked up against invaders.

We stopped at a place called Cafe Montmartre. If anyone from the actual Montmartre district in Paris saw this place they would curse and spit. We were hungry and tired so we sat and ordered. No pictures of the food though. Not picture worthy. We both ordered Chicken Risotto, mine Spring, hers Thai. I believe it was the same dish and hers was prepared with curry.

I am sure they were selling the same dishes out the back door as takeaway Chicken Fried Rice. Ah well it was edible, so we ate and carried on.

Saint Stephen's square and church by night. Now I know where our entrance "donation" went. To the electric bill..........ahem!

We hit the subway and rolled in at about 10:30. The bed never looked so inviting. I cannot even blog today's activities. That will have to wait, and believe me it will be a short entry.

And so, again it is Bonne Nuit....I'm kijarat (out).


Helen Marie said...

Good one Chris...I learned a lot :) In fact I'm tired now..haha Well continue to enjoy! Short blog next?..hey I understand. It's amazing you could do this much after such a long day. Thanks for the ride :)


Scootard said...

Yeah, you talk about your rocket fueled E-ticket ride!! We are enjoying it and are glad you are rolling along.