Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Day 2...a busy and good day in Budapest

Today was another good day in Budapest following by a great night on the Danube! We kept busy and are getting more comfortable using the various public transportation options in Budapest. The morning started out with breakfast at the hotel. I've been abroad so I was well aware that many cultures place a larger emphasis on breakfast by serving cold meats, cheeses, vegetables, etc. I enjoyed the variety of fresh breads served, including pastries and croissants.  A few of the students seemed a little surprised by the different options served at breakfast! 

Following breakfast we headed out for a guided walking tour with Szilvia. After a quick bus ride and walk, our first stop was the Jewish synagogue, one of the largest in the world. Szilvia provided us with some insight on its history and importance to Hungarian culture.

                                                          Above: Dohany Street Synagogue

We continued our walk through the area she referred to as the "old Jewish ghetto" which is now renovated and includes a number of beautiful courtyards. It is definitely an area the students want to go back and visit. It is lined with restaurants, bars, and shops.I enjoy the beautiful ornate buildings and the narrow streets throughout Budapest! We then moved on to Hero's square and received additional history on the importance of this area. We found time for a group picture with the Northwest flag! 

                            Special thanks to Dylan for volunteering to carry the flag everywhere we go!

Following Hero's square we went took a nice walk through the city park area and saw one of the famous bath houses in Budapest. I've added a few pictures of this area below.
                          The man made lake above is a great spot for ice skating in the winter months. 
                      The Sczehenyi bath house is the largest of the thermal bath houses in Budapest. 

We next took the underground line, the bus, and the tram to end up at the city market where we broke for some free time and lunch. The students went in small groups and tried out different restaurant/cafe options. A few students told me they spent as much on soft drinks as they did on their meal since there aren't refill options like we have in the US. I'm sure they will keep this in mind as budgets begin to shrink a bit. Teri and I were able to meet up with Galen Gibson-Cornell, a Fulbright scholar from Maryville who is finishing out his year in Budapest. His father is a professor in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Northwest. It was great to meet and talk with him and get a few of his recommendations for things to do, restaurants to eat at, etc. He joined us for the afternoon and the students were glad to ask him questions about Budapest, areas of town they might enjoy at night, etc.

                              The city market area with a number of local vendors

After lunch we took public transportation to Momento Park. It was interesting but I think it is safe to say the students were beginning to feel tired the later we got in the afternoon. Everyone remained positive and checked out the 42 monuments, learning about Hungary's history through the communist years. There was an old Trabant car which was quite fancy back in the day. A sign actually said you could open up the car and get in. Let's just say our students took advantage of that and it was quite a funny moment when 6'7" Grant attempted to get in the driver's seat.

Once we left Momento park the students were on their own for a few hours. I inquired about a sightseeing cruise on the Danube and once I sent out information to the students, every single one wanted to attend! We ate dinner on our own and then met up for the Danube night cruise. It was BEAUTIFUL and probably my favorite thing so far! I've added a number of pictures below!

Parliament building
Andy, Grant, Jared, and Conner pose for a quick picture
Teri Harr and I - she's been a great help so far!
A group of the girls 
What a fun group of students I have on the trip!

That's it for tonight! It's almost 3 a.m. here so I need to get some sleep to gear up for our visit to an economic research company and our lecture from a European Commission representative tomorrow. If each day goes as well as the first two, we are in store for a great 15 days! 


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