Surprises and Heartbreak

How long do we get to stay here? Whatever it is, I don’t think it will be long enough. So far, we love everything: the people are friendly, the architecture is amazing, the food is great (it’s NOT all goulash), the prices are low, and the weather is fine. I know it’s only been one day, but I thought we would have to make a lot of adjustments, and so far it’s been easy. I thought we would have a hard time getting by only on English: we’d been told that 80% of the people speak nothing but Magyar, and if you wanted to speak English, you’d better find somebody under 25 years old, or else you’d be out of luck. It turns out that in the heart of Budapest, we’ve had no problem at all. Pretty much every restaurant has English somewhere on the menu, or there are pictures you can point to, or we’ve been able to find a waiter who understands enough English that we could get our point across.We’re even learning a little Magyar, wonder of wonders.

One of the things we’ve noticed is that there is art everywhere. There are the typical statues of generals, saints and war heroes as you might expect; there are memorials of various wars; there’s a huge statue on the hill overlooking the city, which was put up by the Soviets to remind the Hungarians of who released them from the Nazis (it has since been repurposed to honor all those who sacrificed their lives for Hungarian liberty).

To Maggie and me, the most powerful memorial was the smallest: a collection of shoes, cast in iron, representing the Hungarian Jews who were executed by the Hungarian Nazi party, the Arrow Cross. The people to be executed were taken to the banks of the Danube and told to remove their shoes. Then they were shot so that their bodies fell into the river. The message being that, to the Nazis, their shoes were more valuable than their lives. You can find more on sculpture and the story behind it here. Thousands of people were murdered in this way, out of the approximately 600,000 Hungarian Jews who were killed, most of them sent to the death camps.

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It’s a living memorial: people have added flowers, votive candles and thousands of pebbles to mark their witness to the memorial. While we were there, a dozen people came by to observe, leave a remembrance or to sit on the bank and be present. That’s a part of what we love about this place, too: its long, often sad history isn’t ignored; there is actually an active effort to keep it alive, so the tragic episodes aren’t repeated.

Surprises and Heartbreak

Trip to the Central Market Budapest

No trip to any city is complete without me (Maggie) making a trip to the local food market.  First thing we did in Budapest was go to the Central Market in Budapest. It is a restored neogothic hall for traders with grocery produce on the ground floor & souvenirs on the upper floor.  This will be my go-to-place for fresh veggies and meats – not unlike the Austin Central Market or Whole foods only better!

 

 

 

 

Trip to the Central Market Budapest

Budapest – at first glance

Flight to Budapest was uneventful except for the last leg when our luggage didn’t make it to Budapest along with us.  Not a problem.  The owner of our rental unit had prearranged a car to pick us up, and the driver didn’t complain about any BO or anything so I guess we are OK to walk around until our luggage arrives.

The owner of our apartment rental here met us at here at the apt.  He is Italian and his English excellent.  He spent a lot of time explaining how everything works and giving us tourist helpful tourist information.  The apartment is on a side street in the Heart of Budapest.  It is EXTREMELY quiet location close to a busy street, market, and restaurants.  We had planned to stay here for a month, and wonder now if that is enough.  🙂

Getting ready to head out here in a few minutes to hit the Tourist Bureau here and pick up a month’s pass on the Metro/Bus system.  Clay has volunteered to post the first day’s activities tonight.

coffee budapest

Budapest – at first glance

Melbourne

The trip from Apalachicola to Melbourne was on on of those “picture perfect” days. We decided to forego I-10 and hit the back roads to Melbourne. it was an easy drive and took only 7 hours. Highly recommended route.

So glad that we got off the back roads in Orlando and headed east on 528 towards the Kennedy Space Center. We had forgotten that Friday was the launch of the SpaceX rocket, and happened to see it launch from our front row seats in our car. I (Maggie) was too busy watching to photograph the beginning stages, but managed to snag one photo of the smoke trail.

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Melbourne

Apalachicola, Florida

We’re off! We didn’t make it too far on the first leg: just to Apalachicola, FL for a few days of R&R, which in our case stands for Rambling and Restaurants. We came to the right place. Miles of untouched beaches to walk on, and a new place to eat on every corner. So far one of our favorite places is the Up the Creek Raw Bar, in the building with the two gables. We actually have to get up from our rocking chairs to go eat, but we don’t have to exert too much more effort than that.

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If you’re looking for a relaxed place to stay with the family, Apalachicola is it. It’s on the Gulf coast of Florida, about halfway down the panhandle, far from cities, neon lights, amusement parks, crowds, noise – in short, it’s not about to become the next Spring Break destination. The main activity here is catching, cooking and eating various sea creatures. The next most popular activity is sitting around talking about catching, cooking and eating; if you do that while drinking coffee or a beer, so much the better.

Not everybody sees it that way. At our favorite breakfast place, Café con Leche, the waitress was from Venezuela; she said that she used to love Apalachicola twenty years ago, when it was “like a third world country, except everything worked.” Now, she said, it was getting too crowded, too many new buildings, too much going on for her. (People say pretty much the same thing about Austin, so I guess there’s a lot of that going around.)

Out on the beach, most of the buildings seem brand new (built after the last hurricane?), but in town they all look like they’ve outlasted a hundred hurricanes – some of them only just barely, but still they’re here.

BrokenDownBuilding

Out of town, the beach is 15 minutes away. It’s just beach. There’s plenty of parking, but beyond that, nothing to mar the scenery. Just miles and miles of beautiful sand, sky and ocean.

But so much for relaxation. On to our next destination: Palm Bay, FL to drop the car off with Wade and Chris while we’re gone. Then we’re off; just the two of us, to our next destination.

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Apalachicola, Florida