An early start (May 4, 2017)

Pretty much all week Robin and I talked about visiting Parliament, a magnificent UNESCO building right on the water. We neglected to book tickets, however, until our only option was an 8:30 a.m. tour. From the time we booked until last night I complained about how unimaginable it seemed to get organized and there so early. Today being the day, I bounced up at 7:00, met Robin at 7:45 and even after the 15 minute walk we had time to explore the beautiful square by the entrance. The timing we had grumbled about was perfect, actually, because there were no crowds inside or out, so the building had a peaceful feel to it. t was so refreshing to see only a handful of guards outside.

When this magnificent building on the river bank was started in 1896 and officially opened in 1904 Hungry was three times larger than it is today, so now only about 20% of the huge building is needed for government business. Our tour began with a climb of 100+ steps up the gold staircase, aptly named because the walls and ceiling are …you guessed it… gold. The entire building inside and out is beautiful with stunning carpets and beautiful floors, lighting fixtures, and paintings. Well worth a visit. Our timing was perfect  because guards arrived promptly at 9:00 to stand watch over the royal crown and our group was there to enjoy this brief arrival ceremony.

A few fun Parliament facts:

1) Brass cigar holders were permanently affixed to a lot of window sills.
The guide explained that smoking was not allowed in the official chambers back in
the day, so if legislators were enjoying a cigar when they were called into a
meeting, they’d rest their cigar in a numbered slot and come back for it when
they were no longer needed inside. (Smoking is no longer allowed in the building.)

2) To keep the mess, odor, smoke, etc. of heating and cooling away from the
beautiful interior of the building, the architects and engineers put the mechanics of the systems under ground quite a distance from the building. Ingenious! The hot and
cool air ran in the floor and was vented under the seats of the legislatures
(like at the opera) and escaped through the ceiling by the chandelier.

3) The building was designed after London’s building of the same name.

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour and were so glad we decided to get up early to make it happen. But we were more than ready to eat since we had not made time for breakfast. On our way to an early lunch we passed a very sobering  monument: five dozen pairs of cast iron shoes placed along the river bank. It is refereed to as Shoes on the Danube and memorializes the Jews shot at water’s edge by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944–45. It was haunting in its simplicity and reminded us of a new monument to Hungary’s 600,000 murdered Jews that we had come across earlier. It is in the form of a figure eight with one side of the eight an open oval and the over a vortex sucking down a continuous steam of numbers, numbers representing the tattoos forced on concentration camp prisoners at Auschwitz. We also saw small brass plaques near the stoops of some front doors. Each plaque has the name of a Jew forcibly evacuated from the house and taken away.

We strolled slowly back toward the hotel through the shopping district and eventually sat outside in the sun and enjoyed an early lunch and people watched. As luck would have it a movie crew was filming literally in front of us, so there was no shortage of things to watch. Just like in other places in Europe, diners are not encouraged to give up their seats for others; they can linger as long as they want even after the meal.

The guys were done with their meetings by the time we got back to the hotel, so we met up with them and decided to take our chances with a Hop On Hop Off bus ride around the city. It was not well done, sadly, in terms of commentary (just a lot of classical music), but did offer us an overview of the city.

The last stop of the day was at New Market, a huge, clean, impressive market building dating back to 1896. Fresh as well as prepared food is sold there as well as souvenirs. We strolled the isles and then headed back for a nice dinner at the hotel.



3 thoughts on “An early start (May 4, 2017)

  1. Great facts mom

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