The driver was at my hotel promptly at 6:45 am. The free hotel breakfast opened at 6:30 am, so I had made good use of that extremely valuable 15 minutes. Breakfast that morning had been a beautiful sight.
There were nine of us headed to Budapest, which is about a 2.5 hour drive East. I really don’t know that much about Budapest since it isn’t mentioned in the Sound of Music (or any other books or movies I could recall). Thankfully, the driver/guide filled us in with the history of Hungary during the drive and I stayed awake for a pretty large percentage of it.
Budapest is a town on the Danube River (which is not a beautiful blue…just sayin’). It was originally settled during the Roman Empire, but was then conquered by the Magdars and a bunch of other people.
It turns out, Budapest is a very beautiful city. The driver was trying to cover as much of it as possible so we only had a few minutes at each place, but it was obvious that a lot of resources had been invested into the architecture of the lovely town—some dating as far back as 86 AD (There are actually a ton of different architectural styles and it’s almost impossible to tell which ones are ancient and what is recent, but they’re all ornate).
Hungary suffered under communism from the end of WWII until 1989. Apparently, after the iron curtain fell, everyone went out and bought cars whether they needed them or not (which you really don’t…unless you want to get out of town…something those folks had probably never been able to do until then).
Hungary became part of the EU in 2004 (although it’s still not been able to reach the financial standards necessary to officially adopt the Euro).
I wasn’t expecting much of Hungarian food since it hasn’t really made a presence around the world, but I have to say, the lunch I ate was one of the best meals I’ve had on this trip. Or maybe it just seemed that way because I’m still catching up on calories from those 25,000 steps yesterday.
I met several nice folks on the tour and walked the chain bridge afterward with a lady from Australia. She and her husband have 4,000 sheep (plus dogs, kangaroos, etc) on over 3,000 acres somewhere in the middle of the country. She was only too happy to walk with me. I guess living that remotely, she and her husband see a great deal of each other and not a whole lot of other people.
The guide had told us an interesting story about the chain bridge that connects “Buda” and “Pest” and the pompous architect, Adam Clark who had designed and built it. He said he jumped off to his death in the Danube after some students criticized the lions at the entrances because they didn’t have tongues.
We thought it was an interesting story, but on a whim I googled it, and Siri says Adam Clark died of lung disease when he was 54 and brought up a photo of his grave stone. But then, I have learned that Siri is not exactly a reliable source of information. Who knows, maybe a famous architect did jump off his bridge into the Danube because someone said his lions didn’t have a tongue. Sounds legit to me.
At any rate, it’s a beautiful bridge. And really, a surprisingly beautiful city. I don’t know about all the history I learned today but maybe I’ll be a little more motivated to study up on the history myself. Someday, I’d love to go back with a little more time and get lost in the Labyrinth under the city. With Siri.
Step count: 17,000
Cumulative Step Count: 114,000 (~57 miles)