Our time in Budapest is coming to an end as we have an early morning flight to Zurich to begin our journey home.
We finally saw the sun in Europe yesterday! We decided that since it was nice we would do the ultimate tourist thing and ride the hop on - hop off bus. Not the most creative idea, but a good way to see the city sights in a short amount of time. We saw Heroes square, the famed Anrdrassy Avenue with the designer shops; once again they were just out of my reach as I sat on the bus! Then we went to the Buda side and saw the Citadel and the Buda Palace and Castle district. Then it was back to the Pest side to see the overpowering Parliament building - too think a structure like that could have been built 100's of years ago is unthinkable, especially when you see the detail work. Amazing!
At one point we got off the bus to view the Holocaust museum. I t was like a scene from the Amazing Race - we got off at the wrong stop; on the other side of town and ended up taking the tram and the underground, walking thru some less then desirable neighborhoods and trying to get directions from several Hungarians that don't speak English! After about an hour of wondering the streets of Budapest listening to Frank complain how this was my idea, we finally found the museum!!! It was a good history lesson for Kai and a haunting reminder of what the Jewish people endured years ago at the hands of the Germans. Despite several of the displays not in working order, it was worth our time!
After another long day we were starting to lose Kai. He was both tired and bored by the sights of Budapest! We made our way back to the hotel in time for evening refreshments ont eh rooftop. Frank and I got our second wind and made a split decision to take the 7:00 hop on/hop off boat ride down the Danube that was leaving in a few minutes. Kai opted to relax in the room and text! The hour long ride was relaxing and a different perspective on viewing the sights. We even met a guy on our boat, who grew up in Okeechobee - it really is a small world!
We celebrated Father's day with a morning workout and run along the river, another wonderful breakfast and ten a trip to the Hungarian thermal baths. The Szechenyi Bath is one of the largest spa complexes in Europe. The thermal baths are said to have healing powers, so we will let you know if we wake up rejuvenated and ailment free. It was an interesting experience; a must see if you are in Budapest, but personally I found it a bit gross. Needless to say my time in the baths was limited to a quick dip in the thermal spa!
We spent lots of time walking along the riverfront watching the boats go by, checking on the soccer scores in the local cafes and people watching on the squares and Fashion Street. Budapest is a city of many contrasts; old and new, wealthy and poor and hills and flatland. It has only been 20 short years since the downfall of communism and it has only been in the last few years that Hungary has joined its European neighbors as friends. The older generations are still not accustomed to the new ways of westernization of the country. English is not widely spoken and those that do speak it have trouble trying to convey what they are saying. The residents aren't rude, but I didn't find the majority of them o be overly friendly and warm - I think it is mainly due to a difference in cultures.
Frank enjoyed Budapest and its history and the clash of the new and old. I'm glad we visited the area and I did enjoy it, but I personally didn't see the many comparisons that I read about between Paris and Budapest. I'll take the ring of Bon Jour in Paris anyday!
I was surprised that although Salzburg was a small town, that is were English was most widely spoken and understood. Despite Vienna being a big city, there was a large amount of people who didn't speak our language. I know that I will most likely not want Italian food for a really long time and a bowl of oatmeal w/fruit in the morning will have a new appeal after eating scrambled eggs for the last 9 mornings. We will all be clucking as we get off the plane!
We are looking forward to spending tomorrow afternoon in chilly Zurich before we fly back to the Florida heat. We have gone from the US dollar, to the Euro, to the Forint and now the Swiss franc; I feel like an international bank. I hear Zurich is a beautiful city and very clean and I'm excited to spend our last afternoon abroad in Switzerland.