|Today we decide to check out the underground Metro as we have been utilizing the trams and buses - the Budapest metro system is efficient and seems to be quite timely. We ride the Blue line to get to the Yellow Line, with one slight mishap as we got off one stop to soon for the connection! The Yellow line is the first Metro Line built on the continent and originally had horse-drawn cars.
Our first destination is the Great Synagogue (Zsinagoga), the second largest in the world. We arrive at the synagogue 10 minutes prior to the 10:00 am opening to join the other hundreds who decide today is the day to tour the synagogue. Upon opening the line moved along and we were able to enter in time to join the 10:30 tour. As the largest number entering were English speaking, we were split into 2 groups. There were numerous other languages represented, and we were all seated in the sanctuary in sections. It made it quite difficult to hear our guide with all of the background noise. The synagogue was built in the 1850’s when Jews wanted to feel more integrated into the community, so it is more decorated than most and includes a pipe organ and a cemetery in the courtyard - most synagogues are devoid of these. Behind the synagogue is the “Tree of Life” sculpture built on the site of mass graves of those killed by the Nazis, the individual leaves lists the name of a victim and the pebbles represent prayers.
Now is time to work our way over to Hero’s Square at the end of Andrassy ut. The Yellow Line runs directly under Andrassy ut (Street) with multiple stops. So we hop back on the Metro and exit at Opera to check on tours and to have lunch at Muvesz Kavehaz (club sandwich for Judi B and an Hungarian sandwich for me). Now we decide to walk a ways along the street to Franz Liszt Square where we once again board the metro to Hero’s Square. Hero’s Square was built to celebrate the city’s 1000th birthday in 1896. The Millennium Monument represents the world’s most historic Hungarians. In front of the pillar supporting archangel Gabriel offering his crown to St. István. Behind the pillar, colonnades feature Hungarian VIPs. Across the street is the entrance to City Park, a park celebrating Hungary’s 1000th birthday. Today it has a zoo, a replica of a Transylvanian castle, walking paths, a lake with various kinds of paddle boats and one of the thermal hot spring baths (a massive facility with baths, massage rooms, swimming pool, etc. - it even has a beer spa!).
We caught the next metro back to the Opera for the 3:00pm tour. The exterior of the Opera House is currently covered with netting as it is being renovated as is part of the interior specifically the auditorium. We did however, get a tour of the lounge areas, the areas once reserved for royalty, the Royal box and the Royal staircase. The last 15 minutes of the tour, we sat on the steps of the grand staircase where we were entertained by a couple of the opera singers.
Being a little tired we decide to return to the apartment for some r&r before crossing the river to Castle Hill and Matthias Church for an organ concert. It takes 2 trams and 1 bus to get to the top of Castle Hill - about 15 minutes - the transportation is very well timed and we exited one tram and stepped on to the next one! Having read that the free concert started at 7:00 pm, we arrive at 6:45 to discover it starts at 7:30, thus we have time for mor e photo ops prior to entering the church. The area is in the Fisherman’s Bastion and the crowds from the previous day have dwindled, so we managed to get a few photos with fewer people! Matthias church has been destroyed and rebuilt several times in its 800 year history, the nucleus of the church is gothic - including the frilly, flamboyant steeple - added for the 1896 celebration. The interior is wallpapered with gilded pages from a Hungarian history textbook. Different eras are represented. The monthly organ concerts are played in the best acoustic space in Budapest - Matthias Church.
Leaving the concert a tad early as dinner was calling, we rode the shuttle bus down the hill standing as the bus was full. The driver asked Judi B to stand back away from the door once and then stopped at one point to show her that she was leaning against the stop button!
Back to our neighborhood for a lovely dinner at Central Kavehaz with weiner schnitzel for Judi B and Hungarian goulash for me. It was very good and enough to take home for later. It is now approaching 11:00 pm and time to retire. jc