A Hungarian Journey

Posted by Mason Allen Buskirk on July 23, 2016 in Study Abroad |

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The list of countries that I managed to make my way towards grew longer still, as after a few weeks rest from traveling, and, of course, attending classes and earning my grades fro my purpose of being in Germany, one warm weekend I decided to catch the train again for another land.

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Another land from Eastern Europe, and where a small portion of my family heritage also originates from, Hungary, was my next destination. I caught a sleeper train to Vienna, and made a brief visit again to the great city considered the gateway to Western Europe, and that aftnernoon caught an express to Budapest, the city where I spent my time in my next country to explore.

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It was evening by the time I had arrived, and I had a pleasant conversation with other young travelers on the train, who suggested to me many wonderful sights I would set foot at during my brief stay. The weather, as is to be expected from Hungary in the summer months, was very warm and humid, even at night, and my sweat was relentless, in fact regardless of where I went to in Europe.

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I’m very susceptible to heat, and prefer colder weather occassionaly. After my arrival at the quite grand railway terminus in Budapest, for many a railway station in Europe is a testament to the glory days when the train opened civilization and travel on all continents, I obtained some Hungarian currency, some of which I have kept to bring home for a foreign currency collection, and retired to my room for the night.

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However, before setting off to rest, I wandered outside to catch a few sights well within a walking distance of the inn. I first discovered the Vajdahunyad Castle.

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The castle stands among trees at the edge of the lake in Varosliget, and is a complex of pavilions illustrating the development of Hungarian architecture. It was made for the Millenium Celebrations of 1896.

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The next morning, with the aid of a map from the inn, and my guide book to Europe, I set out on foot yet again to explore another cultural city of the Continent. One of my first points of interest was a grand cathedral, one of many to behold in Budapest, and this was probably the grandest in the city.

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It was St. Stephen’s Basilica where I had set foot into, and every cathedral throughout Europe I had walked into was more grand than the last, and this was not to be exceptional.

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This Neoclassical church, dedicated St. Stephen, the first Christian King of Hungary, who reigned from 1001 to 1038, was built from 1851 to 1905 on a Greek Cross floor plan.

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There is a painting to the right of the entrance portraying St. Stephen dedicating Hungary to the Virgin Mary.

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There are also two distinctive bell towers, the left tower housing a bell weighing 9 tons. This was provided by German Catholics who decided to compensate for the original bell, that had been looted by the Nazis and melted down in 1944.

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After my visit, I ventured in search of musical marvels for my ears in the State Opera. The Hungarian State Opera was opened to the public in 1884, and was the life’s work of Hungarian architect Miklos Ybl.

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There are countless upon countless opulent chandeliers, murals, and a vaulted ceiling, and statues of Hunagry’s two most prominent composers, Ferenc Erkel and Franz Liszt.

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At the end of my visit, we were presented with a short excerpt from an opera performed there, by a young opera singer, whose voice echoed through the grandeur of the sweeping grand staircase, and the three-story auditorium.

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It gave me much inspiration for what to perform on my radio program at home. I then took a tram to make my way towards the Royal Palace, which had been rebuilt from the remains of a 15th century Gothic palace, after the Habsburg Palace was burned to the ground in February 1945.

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The palace is home to a number of important national collections, including the national library, with over five million books and manuscripts.

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In front of the rebuilt dome of the palace, stands a statue of Prince Eugene of Savoy, who was victor of the Battle of Zenta against the Turks in 1697.

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Across the river, from where I was standing by the statue built in 1900 of Prince Eugene, was afforded to me a fantastic view of the Hungarian Parliament, the largest building in the country, with 691 rooms.

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Constructed between 1884 and 1902, it was heavily inspired by London’s Houses of Parliament. Perhaps the most well known sight of all by non-Hungarians in the city would be the Chain Bridge, which was also well within my sight from the Royal Palace.

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It was the first permanent bridge of the river Danube, and completed in 1849. It was evening by the time I had completed my journey on foot throughout most of the city to find the attractions I have listed, and after enjoying an extravagent Hungarian meal in the open summer air, I travled back to the railway station, where I would take a train home to Germany for the night.

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The night home was the most comfortable rest I had ever had on a train yet.

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It stands to reason to recall that Budapest was once a city traveled to by one of the world’s most famous trains, the Orient Express, and for all I would’ve known, I felt as though I were sleeping on such a train recalled for luxury and opulence.

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The days of my travels in Europe were now numbered, but my excitement never once waned, as the train carried on into the night.

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Tschüss! 

 

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