Monday, March 31, 2008

Szépművészeti Múzeum

It wouldn't be a vacation if I didn't torture Heidi with at least one art museum. Actually we both really enjoy them, especially if there is an audio guide that can help to provide some background and context to the art work and the artists. The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest has a nice collection. It contains pieces across a range of periods and styles. Even the building itself is interesting to walk through. Sadly, the audio guide is lacking, although it does appear to be a work in progress so it'll probably be getting better. Only a small portion of the collection actually has audio information available. Also the ones that do are poorly marked so often you don't realize more information is available. I was able to identify that there was a piece by Oskar Kokoschka though. My mother studied with him in his "Schule des Sehens," so I wanted Heidi to see some of his work. I managed to locate where it was supposed to be, but it was on loan to the Belvedere in Vienna. But more on that later...

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Statue Park

After visiting the caves, we legged it to the south part of Budapest to go to a statue park, which was my favorite sight of the trip. Basically, the Hungarians seem to have collected the Communist statues that they wanted to get relocate and put them in the statue park in what was probably at one point a fairly rural area. Today, the area is in this sub development of houses.

Upon entering the statue park, grounds, you see a statue of Lenon's boots. You then see all these giant statues performing some type of action. We happened to go on a fairly gloomy day so the sky was dark and the place was almost creepy. If that was creepy enough, if you go into what looks like a temporary structure, you can watch a spy training video. During the rest of the trip, we speculated on who was spying on us. :)

Szemlo-hegyi Cave

While in Budapest, we decided to go visit the Szemlo-hegyi cave because it was the one of two caves in the area that was open. When we got to the cave, the sign on the door said that tours were given on the hour and it was only about half past. We wandered around and looked at the display in the building. We then sat waiting for someone and to come from downstairs. At about 10 minutes before the hour, someone came down, asked if they could help us. We told them we wanted a tour. The person took our money and handed us pamphlets and told us that we could guide ourselves! Why couldn't we have done that 20 minutes earlier???

The cave was discovered in 1930 and was opened to the public in 1986. It has a stable temperature and humidity level and the walls are covered in thick layers of mineral deposits which are unique in Europe. Because of its environment, the air is supposed to be very healthy and people with breathing difficulties come there and sit for a while to feel better. I have to say, it was easy to breath while there and I didn't feel any of my usual sinus congestion...

The cave had an artificial entrance made by miners. It has a series of caves that you wander through. The Ferencvaros Hall is the first group and has growths that are supposed to look like bunches of grapes but I thought it looked more like cauliflower. In the Maria Chamber, there is a hole in wall of the cave. Supposedly, some explorers were in the cave and only this young girl Maria could get through the hole and into the corridor. The other people in the party had to widen the hole in order to get through.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Signs of spring

Spring is my favorite season. I love the longer days and that life seems to return after the dreary winter. I like that it is lighter later and later. The sun finally feels warm. The leaves are budding out, the flowers are poking through the ground. The birds are back and singing. To cheer myself up, I decided to post some signs of spring from our recent travels.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Budapest by night

Seeing as I am blogging instead of knitting my wedding shawl, I will keep posting pictures of our Budapest trip. :) After a full day of sightseeing, we wandered around during the night and since I love taking night shots, we also took many pictures. Usually, John and I shared the gorilla pod. It really makes night shots easier and I think it is my favorite present from Christmas (other than the yarn John got me that will someday become a sweater for me to wear all winter long)...

Buda Labyrinth

Our Lonely Planet guide book said that the Labyrinth in Buda under Castle Hill was expensive by Budapest standards but "good fun." So, we wandered around and finally found the entrance. Since we had gotten the Budapest Card (well worth it), we got a discount on ticket prices and on in we went.

The labyrinth was really "interesting." I think the point was to try to guess what they have been used for during history. There are replica cave drawings on the wall. There are statues around and almost every room had different music piped into it. Towards the end of the "tour," we got to a series of rooms called the "other world." These were by far my favorite. See, the descriptions of the rooms were written in a future perspective looking back on the world today. The world was occupied by homoconsumerists and they led a strange life indeed. Try to identify the pictures of what they put into the display. The first four pictures in this post are not part of the homoconsumerist display. I might even give a prize to anyone (other than John) identifying all the pictures correctly.

The tour ended with a labyrinth of courage (I think that's what it was called). It was completely dark and you had find your way around. Unfortunately, many people in the room kept making their cameras or mobile phones light up so it didn't stay pitch dark.

Edited to make clarification: the last 5 pictures are the ones to be identified and the first person to identify all 5 correctly (other than John) will get a prize. :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mátyás király


The Matthias Church is located on the castle hill in Buda. The exterior was being restored when we visited, but the portions of the roof that have been restored were impressive. I also think the image showing the roof with only a small column of tiles gives an impression of how much work must go into keeping these sort of places in going. The inside of the church is also impressive. It's covered it frescoes that give it a very unique feel. Heidi would probably add that it is also a UNESCO world heritage site, a list that never disappoints.