Adventures in Budapest
This post, while not about student-life at Wayne State or in Detroit, is about something equally as exciting — my trip to Budapest, Hungary!
It’s been about a month now since I returned from my adventure, so I’ve had plenty of time to let everything sink in so I can post about a few of my favorite things.
I went to Budapest with a good friend to visit his brother, who had been studying abroad there. We left at about 7pm and flew through the night, arriving in Budapest at about 4pm the next day.
The next day, we were already off to go sightseeing. From the start, it was clear that Budapest was unlike any place I’ve visited before.
The history of Hungary is long and quite interesting, filled with various points of independence and occupation. It’s quite easy to find influence from Turkish occupation, the Austro-Hungarian empire, and, most recently, the USSR.
The last of these was the most obvious in the place we visited on the first day:
These boots are all that are left of a statue of Stalin that used to stand in Budapest. They are now housed in Memento Park, a statue park of soviet-era statue that have been rounded up from around Budapest and are now presented together:
Since talking about every sight I saw in Budapest would make an incredibly long blog post, I’m instead going to organize the rest of the post around a Buzzfeed-style “my favorite sites.” They are in no particular order. And, of course, if you are interested in learning more about my trip or a particular thing, just leave me a comment!
It probably seems a little silly for me to say that the zoo was one of my favorite things to see, since there are zoo all over the U.S. The Budapest Zoo, however, was incredibly different from the zoo’s we have in the United States. Everything is much more open, with the barrier between human and animal far less intense. This was obvious in the first exhibit we went into. We walked through a metal gate and found ourselves staring straight at ring-tailed lemurs, which were in the trees above us. They very easily could have jumped down and touched us.
Much of the zoo was like this, which allows you to get up close and personal with animals you wouldn’t otherwise see so closely in the wild. My favorite part of this was meeting a sloth, which came only four inches from my face (this picture doesn’t show how close he came, but it’s the best picture I have!):
Finally, I was also excited to see giraffes, my favorite animal, at the zoo:
Buda Castle & the Hungarian National Gallery
What interested me most about Buda Castle is not that it was the site of Katy Perry’s Firework music video, but it’s history. Buda Castle has existed since 1265. However, no one is definitely sure where exactly this 1265 Buda Castle was. Since 1265, the castle has served as a home to royalty, invaders, and prisoners. It was destroyed and rebuilt several times. The structure that stands today was not a home to any of these. In fact, it was never used for anything other than a home to museums and libraries. This is largely because Buda Castle was destroyed during WWII and had to be rebuilt.
One of the coolest parts of being around the palace complex was seeing the current archeological dig site:
^ Here is part of the courtyard where the music video was shot.
This is the entrance to the Hungarian National Gallery, the museum we explored that’s housed in Buda Castle. I unfortunately couldn’t take pictures inside, but if you are an art-lover, you should definitely explore the museum’s website! This was my favorite art museum in Budapest (we went to three).
4. The Fisherman’s Bastion
To be completely honest, despite my numerous readings of Wikipedia, I have no idea why exactly this was built. It was built in 1902 and named for the Fisherman who defended this area of the city during the Middle Ages. It looks like a sandcastle and offers incredible views of the city!
This is the Hungarian Parliament building from the Fisherman’s Bastion:
There were a lot of other exciting things I saw in Budapest, such as the Bela Bartok Memorial House and the Dohany Street Synagogue. For the sake of the length of this post, however, i’ll save that for another time!
Overall, if you are looking for a European adventure filled with history, exciting things to do, see, and eat, but can’t afford places like Paris or London, I really recommend you visit Budapest. The city is incredible, but isn’t filled with tourists like other major European cities are. It’s easy to get around using Budapest’s extensive public transportation system and people are very friendly and helpful! Seriously, go to Budapest! Let me know in the comments if you want any more info!