Despite a few headaches and some tired dancing legs, we got up bright and early and walked down towards the Danube River. Pretty quickly we discovered exactly why the Danube’s panorama is a Unesco World Heritage-listed site.
On our way to the river, we came across the Hungarian Olympic rings in Olympia Park, which was built as a memorial in honour of the Olympic Games. Hungary has competed at every Olympic Games since 1896, apart from 1920 after World War One when they were not invited to attend due to their alliances with the Soviet and communism.
After taking group shots in the rings, we arrived at the Hungarian Parliament Building. Designed by Imre Steindl, the Gothic Revival structure was built on the Pest bank of the Danube River between 1885 and 1904. It is the second largest Parliament Building in Europe and the third biggest in the world. We managed to catch what we assumed must have been the changing of the guard ceremony, as all of a sudden some trumpeting sounded and out came some men in uniform (Eastern European not Magic Mike style…). The ceremony consisted of the men guarding the flag pole – yup, flagpole – being relieved of their duties, with new, very young and very similar looking men marching out, doing a little dance thing and taking their place. Aside from the weird ceremony, the Parliament building itself was spectacular….24kg of gold was used to embellish it. Needless to say, I loved it.
On the embankment side of parliament were the Shoes by the Danube. The installation comprises 60 pairs of metal shoes set in concrete and was created in 2005 in honour of the 60th anniversary of the Holocaust in Budapest. It commemorates the Hungarian Jewish victims of the killings committed by the Arrow Cross militiamen, the pro-German, anti-Semitic, national socialist party members of Hungary in 1944-1945. The killings took place en masse – the victims were lined up at the embankment, and shot into the Danube, execution-style. At three separate places of the memorial, cast iron signs read in Hungarian, English and Hebrew:
“To the memory of victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944-45”
Budapest was heavily hit during World War Two – although they started off joining an axis lead by Nazi Germany and the Italians in 1939, in 1941 the Germans invaded and took over Budapest resulting in three quarters of the city’s Jewish population to be shipped off to the tragic death camp; Auschwitz. There is now many Jewish and Holocaust memorial’s around Budapest. The Shoes by the Danube was a very simple but moving memorial, we all loved it and tried to get some cool artistic shots of it. With the famous Chain Bridge in the distance, it did make for some beautiful photos.
The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around, laughing and taking photos of the stunning architecture and views. Although there have been a lot of cultural influences over the years such as the Romans and the Ottomans, the architecture all seems relatively on trend with each other and makes for a striking city.
Saturday evening saw us back playing King Cup, preparing to take on the top ruin bar in Budapest; Szimpla Kert (Simple Garden). Szimpla Kert is the pioneer of Hungary’s ruin bars and according to many locals, fellow tourists and travel guides is the best known ruin pub in Budapest – naturally, the 8 Kiwi’s on tour wanted to try it out.
Not surprisingly tequila shots were also stupidly cheap here, but our real demise came in the form of Europe’s cheapest Jager Bombs. There’s not much more I can tell you about the night….other that we ended up at an Asian Wok Noodle restaurant (in Budapest, Hungary – quite an odd colab) at around 4am and that we were not at all well the next day.
Boodapesht 1 ~ #pestsdobuda 0