Episode #4 Budapest

We arrived in Budapest Thursday, October 22. Our hotel, Corinthia, was the setting for last year’s award winning film, The Grand Budapest Hotel (see photo: for those of you who saw the movie, the lobby in the picture should look familiar, albeit contemporized).

Although the film was not actually shot at the Corinthia, the movie set was tailored from the original, the Royal Hotel, which today stands as the Corinthia. Hungary is a member of the EU, however, its currency still remains the forint (exchange 275= $1). Euro is accepted, but the rate of exchange is not attractive. The Danube River separates the two parts of the city, Buda and Pest. Both sides offer a number of interesting and renowned sites. Buda is known for Castle Hill the site of the Royal Palace and spectacular St. Matthias church (photo is inside of the church).

The Pest side of the city is the location of the Jewish Quarter, the Opera house and Parliament (see the photo of Parliament in the distance; in the foreground lies the Lanchid Bridge that connects the two halves of the city.)

I have also included a photo of my lovely wife standing in front of the trail leading to the top of Castle Hill.

Friday, October 23 was the national holiday commemorating the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. I was 13 years-old when that took place, but do remember the brutal Soviet reaction to the Hungarian’s peaceful protest. In just 3 weeks following the initial attack, 3,000 Hungarians lost their lives in the fighting, which as you know did not lead to independence for Hungary at that time. Every country we visit seems to have some awful “human sacrifice” story to tell — I suppose that’s true of the U.S. as well.

Transportation in Budapest is extremely efficient. Trams, buses and subways connect almost every part of the city. Although we primarily relied on foot travel, on a few occasions we did take both the tram and Metro. Budapest has one of the deepest subway escalators I have seen and the attached photo provides a glimpse of that depth.

It also moves very quickly and could be listed as a Six Flags Magic Mountain ride. We were very pleased with the food. Arlene enjoyed the goulash and the specialty salads Hungary is known for. I was enamored with the creative chicken dishes and the soups. Next week’s adventure takes us to Vienna.

Refugee Update

Last week one of my German colleagues at the European Business School began teaching a Service Learning course that connected several Eritrea refugees with our students to assist in coaching and mentoring their assimilation in the Rheingau. I was impressed with the students desire to be engaged in the process.

Notes of Reflection

A tip of the hat to Steve Jobs, God rest his soul. Having an iPad/Smart phone while traveling abroad is a blessing. On the flip side it can keep one from engaging a “disconnected lifestyle.” There may be value in just floating in the milieu, but I’m satisfied with my technology. For us food is such as important part of the travel experience. We do ask for recommendations, however, we don’t necessarily take the advice of the concierge at the hotels we stay. Rather than making reservations, we often find joy in strolling the streets, examining the menus of the restaurants we pass to discover outstanding off the beaten path bistros. (Unlike most U.S. eateries, the rest of the world, particularly the smaller establishments, display their cuisine choices on a menu posted outside the entrance)