Budapest, Hungary – Thrift Stores, and Culture, and Hipsters…Oh My!

Budapest I can say is the most different, hippest, and individualistic place I’ve been to in Europe. To explain it in Chicagoan terms….it’s like dropping Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, and Logan Square in the middle of eastern European history/architecture adding a river. 

Budapest is actually two places…Buda and Pest, split by a river. Most people wouldn’t necessarily know this until they have a chance to talk to a local. You could get away with an entire day of wondering before you understood that you could never explore Buda and Pest at the same time.

Before I get to the historical stuff, for those of you who don’t know me, or a reminder for those of you who do…I live off of coffee and tea. Often times, if you see me in class or at work without a cup in my hand that’s most likely my lack of time to acquire such beverage… it is most definitely not by choice. 

Well, Budapest did not disappoint me one bit. Every coffee shop we stopped in was unique, just like it’s home town. I had such an amazing time literally just stopping to drink a cup (or two) of coffee/tea. On top of that, people who were in these shops drinking their daily cup of joe just seemed interesting. I kept wondering what they did for a living…were they writers, musicians, web designers, photographers, art curators? The list of artistic jobs goes on. 

Moving Forward…

Pest

Both places are urban, but Pest houses the most amount of residents in city like apartments. It is also the hub in Hungary for Holocaust memorials and history. Located in the middle of Pest you will find the Jewish Quarter, the Holocaust museum, and many monuments.

The Shoes

The shoes were aligned next to the river made of bronze. They were shoes of all types and sizes symbolizing the way that the Holocaust victims were stripped of their personal belongings and left to be just a number, just a pair of shoes left in the dust. 

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The Museum/Synagogue/Weeping Willow

The Synagogue in the Jewish quarter was particularly interesting. On the outside behind a gate, there stands a metal structure of a weeping willow tree in honor of those who lost their lives in the Holocaust. Though we didn’t get a chance to enter the museum part, we could still tell through the gates that this was a place that people not only came to be informed but where people came to silently think about that had happened. 

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The Unfinished Structure

This in my opinion was the most moving structure. It consisted of a large bronze eagle with a statue or the Angel Gabriel underneath it. The eagle represented Nazi Germany and Angel Gabriel represented the innocence of Hungary during the German Occupation. 

This structure has brought an immense amount of political unrest to the state. From what I could gather…

  1. The state and Jewish community is upset that Hungary frames itself as innocent in the German Occupation when that wasn’t necessarily the case.
  2. There is also upheaval because instead of writing “victims” of the Occupation the translation from Hebrew is “Sacrificial Animals.” 
  3. The population thinks it’s a way of avoiding what really happening in Hungary.  

 People around the towns left memorabilia of their loved ones and pictures of the Occupation at the memorial in protest and remembrance. Such items included: shoes, suitcases, instruments, and a child’s stuffed animal.

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Like much of the world’s history, when we think something is finally put to bed, it most likely, is not. 

Buda

The next part of our adventure led us to Buda to get to the other side you have to walk on the Chain Bridge which is one of the most famous bridges in the world. 

The Bridge 

This bridge is named The Chain Bridge and it has a place for walkers and drivers. Upon arrival at the bridge, it starts with carved stone lions and a beautiful view of the elevated city of Buda. At night, the bridge lights up and when we were there it happened to be lit up with purple lights. It served not only as the connecting point of the two cities but a landmark and marvel itself. 

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The Castle

The Royal Palace in Buda is located right off of the Danube River and was built for royalty in 1265. Located in the Castle District, this castle dates inhabitants back to the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, the Castle was not open when we were there but just walking around the outer parts, I got the sense of history and importance. The Castle laid on different levels with broad entry ways, extravagantly decorated, enough to intimidate the average eye.

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To my dismay…

My very short 24 hours in Budapest had ended and it was now time to hop on a bus to my next destination… Vienna, Austria.

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