Oct 10 Budapest
First thing in the morning, Grammar and I went to the Jewish Museum and the Great Synagogue. Hungary had a rich Jewish culture before the Second World War; 25% of the population was Jewish. Now, 0.5% are Jewish. The Great Synagogue, second largest in the world, looks a lot like a Christian church. It was neglected for many years but restoration started with support from actor Tony Curtis who had Jewish-Hungarian roots. Others with similar background are Goldie Hahn, Henry Houdini, ZaZa Gabour and Joseph Pulitzer.
The small, but interesting Jewish museum has stunning artifacts of religious and everyday life that were hidden by Christian priests during the war. It also has a lovely memorial tree and garden that contains a tribute to the Swedish playboy diplomat, Raoul Wallenberg. He was sent to Hungary because no one else wanted the post. He was tasked with helping Jews get out of the country but no one expected much of him. He enabled tens of thousands of Jews to escape but was arrested by the Russians when they arrived. They thought he was an American spy. He disappeared and was never heard of again.
Next we hopped on a boat to tour the Buda and Pest waterfronts along the Danube River. We were lucky that it was spectacularly sunny and everything looked great. Particularly lovely were the Parliaments buildings that we had only glimpsed on the bus tour.
We were really moving fast today because there were lots of things uthat Grammar wanted to see and do. I managed to persuade her that soaking in the baths with her recently wounded arm held up in the steamy air was not a good idea. She was not happy with that but perked up when I suggested we go to the huge city market. It was all under one roof and quite wonderful. We did not buy much - some paprika and a yummy snack - but the sights and sounds and smells were great. There was everything from embroidered table cloths and wooden toys, to pickles, sausages and cheeses.
We went to the Lido Cafe for dinner and enjoyed a live big band concert. Fortunately we reserved yesterday because the house was packed. We did not stay late because we had a very early flight the next morning.
Grammar says I should add that anyone going to Budapest should get Rick Steves book on Budapest. He really loves this city and has some excellent insights and information. We had it on the iPad, which is somewhat frustrating because it is hard to use for a walking tour, but it was still very good.