Wednesday, January 30, 2013

30.1.2013 The Final 48 Hours

Welcome to Budapest, Hungary!

We just had our last night in Vienna. When we woke up this morning there was a tiny sense of sadness in our group but for the most part there was excitement about the next leg of our trip, no matter how short it may be. For the last day and half of our trip we will be exploring different holocaust memorials and exploring Budapest, Hungary in general.
Standing at the train station we were all trying to delayer because the sun was coming out and it was significantly warmer than what we have been experiencing for the last two weeks. We were hoping that it would be the same in Budapest but Dr. Moser told us that it would be chilly and rainy there.
funny graffiti
View of the bridge
Gorgeous roofs
More amazing roofs
Old Buda
We had about a 3-hour train ride from Vienna to Budapest and then took a trolley from the train station to our hotel. Our hotel is actually old apartments that were turned into a hotel. They are really pretty. There is a spiral staircase going up to each floor. Our room feels really big compared to our room in Vienna, but it feels really homey. After we dropped our stuff off at Hotel Kalvin House we moved on to our tour of Budapest. Within a few minutes of being on a trolley we could see one of the main bridges that crosses the Danube from Buda into Pest. Once we got off the trolley we took a trolley to the top of Buda Hill where we got a really good view of Buda and Pest. The difference is the age but you can really tell by looking at the architecture. The buildings in Buda are all different heights, but since Pest was modeled after Vienna all of the buildings are required to be the same height. Luckily some of the fog from the morning had disappeared so we got a clearer view of the city. There were a lot of gorgeous buildings but the one that stood out to me the most was the Parliament Building. It is an enormous white building with a giant red dome and a lot of towers. The architecture in Budapest is absolutely breathtaking. Since we had a morning full of travel we did not do a lot of super academic things today but we definitely got to see some very pretty buildings, and especially intricate roofing.

The main academic thing we did today was go to a memorial for people who were shot into the Danube between 1944 and 1945. This memorial spoke to me the most out of all the places we’ve been to the whole trip. Once I realized what it was I stopped talking and just stood still for a minute trying to process what actually happened. In school we learn the basics of the Holocaust, but I never learned about people getting shot into the Danube near the end of the war. You can try as hard as you want to wrap your mind around the Holocaust and some of the things that happened but I think it is always going to be incredibly difficult for anyone to ever completely understand what happened or what was going through the Nazi’s minds. The monument is extremely simple, it is just a lot of pairs of metal shoes lined up near the edge of the walkway by the river. It is an extremely inaccessible monument, in order to get to it we had to cross 4 lanes of traffic, walk down a narrow sidewalk, cross 2 more lanes of traffic, hop over a guard rail, and walk down another walkway. When you first turn the corner it doesn’t really make sense what it is, in fact I don’t know if people that didn’t know about it would know what it is, but once I saw it it hit me like a brick wall what it was. There were women’s shoes, men’s shoes, and even a pair of children’s shoes. People had left candles and flowers in some of them.
By this time it was raining and we were ready to move on. We started to head back to the hotel but our professor stopped to ask if we wanted to see more and we all agreed that we wanted to see as much as we could in the short time that we had left in Europe. We wandered around some and saw some more breathtaking architecture and then decided we were tired of getting rained on so we headed back to the hotel to relax and dry off for a little while before dinner.
For dinner we went to a little restaurant a couple of blocks away from our hotel. I got Gnocchi with tomatoes, olives, pine nuts, mushrooms, and a really tasty cheese on it. After dinner a few of us and our professor went for an adventure to see some of Budapest at night. The most amazing view we got was of the Parliament Building lit up and it’s reflection on the Danube.
Time for bed so I can be ready for a full day of adventures and education tomorrow!

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