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Day 11 Wednesday, July 20, 2022: Connecting Hungarian Dots

Today we have an overview tour of Budapest. The last few days we have learned about specific places of interest in Budapest. Now our guide Eva takes us all over the city by bus.

Hungary is located in Central Europe. Ten million people live in Hungary and two million live in Budapest.

Budapest is actually two cities. Buda is on the east side of the Danube River, and Pest is on the west side. The plains and the hills meet at Budapest.

Pest is three times bigger than Buda. Buda is quiet and cooler. Pest is flat, hot, and has lots of cement and Buda is residential, hilly, and green with lots of trees. It costs more to live in Buda. There are two types of people who live in Budapest. Those who live in Buda and those who want to.

Pest is pronounced pesht. It is a Slavic word for kiln or stove used to bake limestone. Buda comes from the Slavic word  for water referring to its many natural springs.

The bridges are located at the narrowest part of the River. People refer to the bridge by their colors – the white bridge, green bridge or sometimes its function – chain bridge.

The Chain bridge is the oldest bridge and was built in 1849. It used to have chains to keep others from passing the river without paying a toll. We cannot cross this bridge today as it is being remodeled. The lion statues on it are having a “face lift.”

The Green Bridge or Liberty Bridge is the shortest bridge and was built by Emperor Franz Josef in 1896.

View of the Green Bridge from Gellért Hill.

The White Bridge is the longest bridge and is a suspension bridge. It was built for the popular Queen Elizabeth “Sissi”, the wife of Franz Josef.

Hungarians love to eat meat, in fact, they eat meat with meat. They don’t have much seafood in Hungary so they don’t even know how to prepare it.

Langos, a deep fried flatbread with various toppings, is a specialty food found in Budapest. These people are flocking to this food stand in the Budapest central market called the most amazing market in Europe by CNN.

We see a building called The Whale that looks like a whale from the outside. On the inside is where the NASA center scenes in The Martian were filmed.

The Danube River is blue when it is sunny. It is the second longest river in Europe and runs from the Black Forest to the Black Sea.  It weaves through ten countries and four capitals. It is at its lowest level of ten feet because of drought. They have been dreaming of a White Christmas for two years. They only had two hours of snow in Budapest last winter.

The Parliament Building was built in 1905 and is the largest building in Hungary. It has 700 rooms and was built before WWI when the country was larger. When you go into the room where the crown jewels are located, it is like being inside a Faberge egg.

In March 1838, the Danube flooded and the entire Pest side was flooded.  The flood killed many Hungarians and more than 50,000 were left homeless. 500 buildings were destroyed. The icy river broke through and ran over the embankments. Many citizens found shelter in the chapel that stood on a small hill which later became St. Stephan’s Basilica. The saved people felt so grateful afterwards that they started collecting donations for a large Basilica.

The Yellow Line was a subway built in 1896 and was the second oldest subway in the world behind London. Paris built one next and modeled the Metro after the one in Budapest.

Soda water is a Hungarian invention. White wine and soda water is a special drink found here. Different quantities of each with each restaurant having its own recipe.

St. Stephen Basilica is the largest church in Budapest. This impressive cathedral was built in 1905. They have amazing concerts there, but sadly we could not attend because they are on Thursdays and we set sail tonight. Outside on the parapet, it says in Latin the words of Jesus, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

The hand of St. Stephen is a relic in St. Stephen Basilica. They used to have the whole arm but gave the shoulder to Austria and the elbow to Croatia  I guess relics are hard to come by. Once a year on August 20, they walk around the square with the hand as this is his saint day.

I heard a new term called Christers. This is a combination of Christmas and Easter and refers to those who only go to church on those days. Still couples will marry in the church. During communism secret weddings and baptism took place with no guests. Real change for the church came in 1989 after the fall of Communism. And it wasn’t that easy. For example, schools could return to being religious schools and the students weren’t used to that type of instruction.

Hungarians don’t like skyscrapers. It is forbidden. St. Stephens Basilica should be the highest building.

Rob poses with the fat policeman and rubs his belly for good luck. The policeman was the grandfather of the artist.

Chimney Cakes come from Hungary. They are a street food and cannot be ordered in a restaurant. Chimney cakes are made from a sweet yeast dough that is rolled into a long rope and baked around a cylinder. They are filled with various sweets such as ice cream.

Liszt means flour. Goulash means cowboy soup. It is best slow cooked over an open fire to get the flavors of nature. It is said that when a woman makes goulash, she uses one bottle of red wine, but a man uses 2 to 3 bottles with much of it never making it into the soup.

Paprika is famous in Hungary. They even make it into a paste. Brands include Hot Steve and Sweet Anna and one uses only a little bit.. Sometimes tourists mistake it for salsa!! Haha.

Car manufacturing is the greatest industry in Hungary followed by pharmaceuticals.

The city of Cleveland, OH, has the largest population of Hungarian immigrants. Other famous Hungarians:  Hungarians founded 20th Century Fox, United Artists and Paramount film studios. Karch Kiraly is a famous volleyball player and coach. Al Hrabosky, a former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, was known as the “Mad Hungarian.”

Maybe you remember the three Gabor sisters. These girls were famous for being famous … like the Kardashians are today. Zsa Zsa had nine husband’s and said that she was a great “housekeeper”. “When I divorce, I keep the house.” Her sister Eva was on Green Acres. Together with their mother, they were married 23 times. They took classes in Hungarian in order to keep their trademark accent. Dah-ling!!

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