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Budapest

Posted: Sat March 24th, 2012, 7:26 pm
by DanielAWillis
Last summer I made my fourth trip to Budapest. From a writer's perspective the place just reeks of history! There are still a few areas of Roman ruins that can be visited, as well as each era since.

One of the fascinating things to see is in the national museum (formally the Royal Palace) where there are photos of the area along the Danube from before WWII, followed by photos of the almost complete devastation caused by the advancing Soviets, then you can walk outside and see how closely they rebuilt it to the original.

The two principle churches, St. Stephen's Basilica and St. Matthew's near the Palace, are both steeped in history and have ample plaques and fliers to explain it.

Many of the large buildings which now house governement agencies or hotels were once the "in town" palaces of Hungary's nobility. Some effort has been made to preserve their outside appearances even though most interiors have been gutted for more function modern usage. But many have near-by small parks where one can sit and imagine them in their former glory rather easily.

The famous mineral baths of Budapest are also popular sites. While there you can get a real sense of sitting and watching the locals socialize as they would have in Roman days, all whiule have your cares of the day soak away.

One note for first timers: English is generally not spoken once you get away from the tourist areas/hotels. Hungarian is a real bear to learn, but try for a few simple phrases such as please and thank you and "how much" and "which way to ..." I have had some rather interesting experiences with charades trying to get a question out. For questions pertaining to my research, I typed them out using Google translates before my trip and that helped some. I made the worng assumption that since Hungary was once part of the Austrian Empire, many would speak some German. I was wrong. German is understood less than English, from my own experience.

Posted: Sun March 25th, 2012, 11:28 am
by Madeleine
That;s interesting what you say about the German connection you thought there might be in Hungary - when I was in Prague a few years ago, German was quite widely spoken, and I even got some directions in German, although we still got lost! Probably more down to my bad memory though.

Posted: Sun March 25th, 2012, 11:53 am
by EC2
[quote=""Madeleine""]when I was in Prague a few years ago, German was quite widely spoken, and I even got some directions in German, although we still got lost! Probably more down to my bad memory though.[/quote]

My husband's auntie is from the Czech Republic (born 1925) and she spoke German from her birth.

Posted: Sun March 25th, 2012, 2:43 pm
by DanielAWillis
Parts of what are now Slovakia and the Czech Republic were traditionally German-speaking duchies/principalities. During World War II, Hitler brought them into the Reich for that reason, in his effort unify all Germans (which also included Austrians and western Poles in his mind).

Because they have a more recent history of being part of a German state, it is not surprizing to find more German-speakers there. Hungary had been essentially separate from the German-speaking world since 1848, although still politically connected to Austria until 1918. I guess that is long enough to forget the German which would have been a second language to begin with.

Posted: Thu May 17th, 2012, 6:23 pm
by Brenna
Hubby and I (with my parents in tow) are leaving for California Saturday morning. A whirlwind tour of Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon. I've very excited!

Posted: Thu May 17th, 2012, 9:01 pm
by J.D. Oswald
Just spent a week in Lyme Regis in Dorset. We hired a beach hut and spent hours huddled inside looking out at the waves and listening to snatches of conversation as people walked by. The harbour wall - the Cobb - is famously connected to John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman and Jane Austen's Persuasion. Also Tracy Chevalier's Remarkable Creatures is about Mary Anning, a fossil collector who lived in Lyme in the early C19th. Plus it's surrounded by Thomas Hardy country.

Posted: Fri May 18th, 2012, 8:50 am
by Madeleine
Oh Lyme is lovely, hope you got some decent weather! Did you walk along the Cobb?

Posted: Fri May 18th, 2012, 11:06 am
by J.D. Oswald
Yes, we did, although we got a bit wet when the waves came over the wall! Weather a bit mixed although I agree it's lovely there whatever the weather. I like all the different houses along the front, particularly the Arts and Crafts one, Sundial House.

Posted: Fri May 18th, 2012, 1:11 pm
by Madeleine
I remember there was a nice bookshop there too! I did start to walk along the Cobb but chickened out as it was very windy and I didn't feel safe at all. The next time I visited Lyme it rained all the time so I didn't even go to the beach!

Funnily enough I watched The French Lieutenant's Woman a couple of years ago, and the town was recognisable, even after the film crew's set dressing to make it look Victorian. I don't think it's basically changed much over the years, although I haven't been there for about 12 years.

Posted: Thu May 24th, 2012, 10:59 pm
by DianeL
Mary Anning was the featured article on Wikipedia's main page just a few days ago - what a fascinating woman. I thought she must certainly be worthy of a histfic treatment!