Entries in Hungary (1)

Sunday
Jun172012

bathing in budapest {traveling with kids in Europe}

Eastern Europe has been on my radar for some time now (can you believe i've never been to Prague!?), so I jumped at the chance to take us to Budapest for a weekend trip thanks to 123 euro TOTAL plane tickets (prague is still on the horizon!) ;) It was everything I expected and a good bit more. A complex 1000+ yr old history, makes it a fascniating destination with much to see and explore.

Here's the "cliff's notes" if you never make it to Budapest yourself.. but I do hope you will!
* Hungarians are largely decendants of Mongolians, later mixed with neighboring European groups. The result is a distinct culture that produced one of the 5 hardest languages on earth to learn! Knowing that, you can always find people to speak English, since there's no way we're going to speak their language!
* Budapest has only been a unified city for a little over a century. It was Buda (the hilly side with the castle hill) and the Pest side (the more flat, commercial side) that straddles the Danube for most of it's history.
* 1895 was the 1000 year celebration of Budapest's history so a lot of the building and monuments were from that time.
* They were on the losing team during both World Wars. After the 1st, they lost a lot of land. During the 2nd, they lost 500,000+ Jews, then when Germany turned on them, they were hoping the US would rescue them.
* USSR beat them to it. So then Hungary was communist for 50 years, until 1989. And even though it's been over 20 years, there's no escaping it's legacy here.. it's very tangible and raw I think.

I could go on, but some of your eyes are glazing over I think, so I'll get to the visual part!
Welcome to Budapest on a warm, mostly sunny weekend!
Our first sights along the Pest side as we arrived..
We took a walking tour of the city that gave us a good overview and history. It wasn't as good as the one in Dublin, but we learned more than we knew before and got some exercise in the process!
on top of "castle hill" on the Buda side
remnants of revolution
love the unique tiles of Mathias Church
I'd read the opera house was amazing, so instead of just taking a tour of the interior, we watched a performance of Puccinni's Tosca. We just missed a Snow White ballet by a week, and I'd read this was an interesting one for kids. While it did indeed have action and drama, it WOULD have been helpful to have printed out a brief translation before we went ;) It was hard to completely not know what was going on during the 1st act. Thankfully, the nice gentleman next to me gave me the synopsis and we "telephoned" it down the line.. I wouldn't say they loved it, but I did give them the chance to leave and everyone wanted to stay and see how it ended. I won't give it away.. but it's quite tragic!
The next day was a huge treat for we Southerners!! We got to swim OUTSIDE for the first time since moving here!? And that's a big deal to this water family!! Budapest has tons of geothermal energy and thus a lot of bath houses (they have the Turks who took over for 100 years or so to thank for capitalizing on that!).
So, on Sunday we made a beeline thru City Park to the gorgeous Szechenyi Bathhouse. It was fun for the whole family and gorgeous picture taking for mom! ;)

if you get a chance to go, make sure and pick up the polka dot wrapper candy. Our tour guide recommended them and they are addictive!
There is a poignant memorial to Jews that were executed near the Danube during WWII. It was a time for reflection and a good opportunity for thoughtful discussions.
Lighter moments in the "magical fountains" nearby.
Watching the sunset from Spoon: A great restaurant with a knockout view on a riverboat just beside the chain bridge.
nightfall at last in lovely Budapest.
thanks for looking!
Check back for more adventures coming soon ;)