Sunday January 18th, 2015 - Budapest, Hungary
Monday, January 20th 2015 - Budapest, Hungary
We then took the underground subway to a bus, which drove us up the mountain to the Buda Castle. It was a beautiful drive up, since we winded up the mountain past the bottom entrance. Before going to the castle, we saw the outside of Matthias Church. There was a much smaller model of the church right infront of it, which made for a very cool comparison. We then went down to Fisherman’s Bastion, which is a wall and fortification which now looks over the Danube River and the Pest side of the city. We then walked through Buda Castle. On the way to Buda Castle, we walked through many beautiful streets (pretty enough to take pictures). At the castle, we saw an archeological dig along with some ruins that hadn’t yet been dug out. We saw lions guarding the castle, and many other animals with symbolic representations. We then tried our first taste of hot wine. This version (retrospectively my favorite of all of the hot wine we tasted on this trip… yes we had to try it in every city!) was spiced with cinnamon and other spices and had a delicious flavor. It warmed our freezing hands and was the perfect mid-morning (it was still morning) drink.
For lunch, we found a traditional place to get Hungarian food. We got goulash and pancakes with meat inside. Goulash in Hungary is very soup like with root vegetables and meat. Pancakes in Hungary are much more like crepes. They were both delicious and very filling. But… there is always room for dessert. Bettina took us to sugar world, a very famous confectionary, which was decorated with bright colors and had extravagant desserts. I had milk rice, which is almost like rice pudding but served like frozen yogurt because it had different flavors and toppings. I had vanilla milk rice with cinnamon apple topping – it was amazing! I actually really like just the vanilla milk rice. It was a little sweet, with a good texture and yummy vanilla flavor. Alison had a traditional Hungarian dessert called Somlόi. It was a rum soaked cake with raisins and whipped cream. Also good, but I liked the milk rice much better. From there, Alison and I grabbed our bags and headed to the East train station to catch our train to Salzburg.
I was looking at earrings, talking about how I love shopping for them, but can’t wear them when Bettina heard that I didn’t have my ears pierced. She was very surprised, because it is incredibly common to get your ears pierced as a baby in Budapest. Alison, had the idea that getting my ears pierced in Budapest would be an amazing memory (which is true). I had been considering getting them pierced, but had no intention to do it while abroad. I promised to think about it, although Bettina and Alison’s excitement was contagious. The discussion continued all the way down the hill on the bus and until we go to Hero’s square. Hero’s square is a large open area with a monument that depicts the heroes of the original settlement of Hungarians.
Tuesday, January 20th 2015 - Salzburg, Austria
We climbed a windy and steep road up the mountain to reach the Hohensalzburg Fortress. From the walls of the fortress, we could see beautiful views of Salzburg and the mountains behind it. Looking into the hills, I could see the wall of the city. I just wanted to start singing “the hills are alive, with the sound of music”. We made friends with a Belgian student who exchanged taking pictures with us. After looking off from every angle, we explored the fortress. We ran into a marionette museum in one of the rooms. As much as I tried, Alison said I was a terrible puppeteer. Can’t win all of them I guess haha. Alison was actually pretty good, knew exactly how to move the puppet. Anyways it was quite a cool exhibit with lots of marionettes. We had an audio guided tour where we learned all about the history of the fort and in what stages it was built, and we saw the states rooms and lots of outfits and weapons.
Wednesday, January 21st 2015 - Vienna, Austria
Thursday, January 22nd 2015 - Vienna, Austria
Thursday, January 22nd 2015 - Prague, Czech Republic
Friday, January 23rd 2015 - Prague, Czech Republic
For our first morning in Prague, we made our way to the Jewish quarter. Since Prague wasn’t bombed during WWII, and because of other reasons, it is one of the only cities in Europe to have an untouched Jewish Quarter. Alison and I did a tour of the Jewish quarter, starting with a Spanish synagogue. The Spanish synagogue was beautiful! It had a very high ceiling with beautiful work on the walls and very pretty decorations. We then went to the Pinkas Synagogue. The walls of this synagogue were entirely covered by names of Jews who died in the Holocaust from the area. It was sorted by town, then last name, then first name followed by dates of birth and death. The amount of area these names covered was remarkable. It made the huge number into relatable and individual parts. There was also a section with art from the Holocaust. One woman had the children in the camps and ghettos during the Holocaust create artwork. This artwork was saved and on display. Some pieces were very sad and disheartening while others were colorful, which made it even more heartbreaking. We visited a few more synagogues, including the Old New Synagogue, which was a very exciting experience because I hadn’t seen a synagogue that was so old and historical, which gives Judaism a lot more of a grounding in history than what I had experienced in the past. We also walked through the Jewish Cemetery. This was amazing because there were so many graves on it! According to Jewish law, once a person is buried, you can’t remove them or anything. When the Jews in Prague quickly filled the little piece of land they were given for a cemetery, and not given and more, the only choice they had was to build up. So they moved the tombstones up a level and filled in dirt. Now there are about 12 levels of graves on the one piece of land! There isn’t even room for more tombstones.
Saturday, January 24th 2015 - Prague, Czech Republic
We spent the rest of the night with the four people we had dinner with (yes Givi did then leave). We went to the Prague Beer Museum, where I had a delicious chocolate beer. It was shockingly really good and had a very chocolate smell. We then packed up our stuff and headed to the train station to return to Budapest. I slept almost every single minute of the 8 hour train ride. This was the end of Alison and my first trip. It was filled to the brim with activities and sight-seeing, but we had a great time and experienced so many new cultures, people and levels of exhaustion. I was so glad that I could start my semester abroad with such great places, fun things, delicious foods and an amazing friend. I hope I can say similar things about the rest of my trips throughout the semester.