We left Szeged at 8:30 this morning and arrived at our hotel in Budapest around 11 a.m. Traffic in Budapest is MUCH heavier than in Szeged – this is a bustling city full of people and energy, old buildings and new.
Our hotel used to be a workers’ dormitory. The elevator has enough room for three people – if they’re close. Interestingly, you open a swinging door and the elevator doors then slide open. The elevator doors don’t close if the swinging door is not closed. Our rooms are very clean, but sparse. The room itself if about 10x10 with a twin bed, two chairs and a side table, a desk, an 18-inch tv and a cabinet for hanging up any clothes. The bathroom is larger than the one in Szeged, but not as well-equiped. There is no shower curtain and the hand-held shower head, which is connected to the bathroom sink, is the only source of water in the tub. The walls, however, are a pretty blue tile.
Since our check-in wasn’t until 2, we locked up our bags and went sight-seeing. We first stopped by Elizabeth Balint’s apartment (which she owns, but it’s not called a condo here), and met her mother. We then took a bus to Margrit Island – an island in the middle of the Danube between the Buda and the Pest sides of Budapest. It had a beautitul fountain and sculpture in a pond. We walked around the garden at the end, then took the bus – followed by the tram – to the Parliament building. The Mayor of Szentes had arranged for a special tour just for our group. It started at 2:45 p.m. which put us in the dome area during the guard tribute. Three guards, dressed in old-time uniforms, proceeded into the dome, saluted the crown/scepter/orb, stood guard for 15 minutes, then returned to their prior stations. This tribute happens every hour on the hour and we were fortunate to be able to witness it.
Following our tour of the Parliament building, we went to the most remarkable market. It was in a glass building and had all kinds of food vendors on the first floor (where we got paprika) and various shops on the top floor (where we bought tablecloths and hand-carved eggs). The place was packed with residents purchasing food and tourists purchasing goods. (I couldn’t help but think of Carty running around saying “this is what our Erie Street Market should be.”)
After dinner, we took a night cruise on the Danube and saw the buildings lit up at night – a remarkable sight, indeed!
This is the front entrance to Parliament. The middle main entrance is only used for visits from heads of state.
The accepted date of the founding of the nation of Hungary is 896 AD. There are, therefore, 96 steps leading from the main entrance to the main floor of the building.
One of the many figures on the columns in the lobby of the House of Lords - a peasant woman with her skirt filled with grapes. They were placed there to remind the Lords of the people they represent and on whose behalf they were making decisions.
The House of Lords was eliminated in favor of a single, combined parliament. The chamber is now use for special events, speeches, etc. It was being set up for some type of piano concert during our visit.
Night photos of Budapest...