It’s that time of the week again where you wonder where the weekend has gone. Still I hope you are enjoying a peaceful and joyful Sunday whatever the weather. For me it’s been a great weekend for gardening with both sunshine and rain. At the end of the day, it’s great to take in the scent of jasmine, the rain drenched lawn and the fantastic colours of a fast approaching Summer. The title of the first song here is therefore quite appropriate. But don’t stop there. Listen up for those special guitar solos and be amazed at the magic of those chords as I was. Happy listening and have an awesome week ahead!
I was meant to visit Budapest on a Saturday but much to my disappointment, my tour operator didn’t pitch. I suppose there was a plan somewhere. As in some other European countries, most shops are closed on Sundays so this afforded me an opportunity to see families leisurely enjoying the day. And what a gorgeous day it was! It was surprisingly warm for an Autumn day and I was in awe of everything I saw in the architecture, vibrant coloured trees and flowers and monuments everywhere!
I was particularly struck by the Museum of Hungarian agriculture, formerly known as the Vajdahunyad castle. Its designer, Ignác Alpár merged different architectural styles, made use of different elements and details of well-known buildings of historical Hungary. I was mesmerised by this hauntingly picturesque building which was shrouded by beautiful Autumn shades.
As much as I love the beauty of the great architecture of a bygone era, I love the beauty of nature from which so many of us draw our creative inspiration and food for the soul. So, I was equally enchanted by the brightness of the day, the lush green lawns, the brilliant colours of a lingering Summer and gentle transitioning of Autumn.
Soaring above Heroes’ Square is the Millennium Column, the focal point of the the column is topped with a statue of the archangel Gabriel.
Behind the column is a semicircular colonnade with statues of famous men who made their mark on Hungarian history. Statues atop the colonnades symbolize War, Peace, Work and Welfare, and Knowledge and Glory.
Around the base of the monument are a number of equestrian statues honoring the seven chieftains of the Hungarian tribes who, led by Árpád, conquered the area now known as Hungary.
Since we had left Vienna before breakfast, the Varosligat restaurant was the perfect place to stop for a delicious light meal for brunch.
Certainly an interesting ambience.
I enjoyed a meal of peppers stuffed with chicken and immersed in a tasty paprika sauce. The Turks introduced the pepper plant (Paprika) to Hungary during their rule in the 16th-17th centuries. At first it was regarded and used as an ordinary plant and decorated the gardens. Shepherds and herdsmen who had more contact with the invaders started to spice their meals with the fiery powder.
Then paprika got to the kitchens of the peasants. Aristocrats found the peasant foods flavoured with the red spice very tasty and slowly they started to use it too.
By the 19th century paprika became a dominant spice in Hungarian kitchens and restaurants.
Budapest which is referred to by some as the Paris of the East, has shops, cafes and ambassadors’ residences lining the street below which is beautifully tree-lined and resembles the Champs elysees in Paris.
Budapest is one city with two personalities. The Buda part is situated on the hillside on the western banks of the Danube river. Property on this side of the city is more expensive and belongs to those who can afford it. It is from this vantage point of Castle’s hill that one can marvel at the striking building of the Parliament and other awesome views.
Today, Castle Hill is recognized as a World Heritage Site, and has many must-see attractions, Gothic arches, eighteenth-century Baroque houses and cobblestone streets. Though Castle Hill has changed much since building began in the 13th century, its main streets still follow their medieval paths. Some houses date back to the 14th and 15th centuries, giving an idea of what the Castle District may have looked like back then. Practically every house has a plaque indicating the century in which it was built, and providing details of its history. A surprising number of the buildings are still private homes, as Castle Hill is also a residential area. Cars have been banned – only people who live and work here are allowed to drive; however, public transportation is available.
Below is the modern version of the square where the community gathered for their market in medieval times.
Below: one of the few buildings which retains its original form from medieval times that survived bombings of WWII`
The church was used as a coronation church by Hungarian kings for centuries, also a mosque for over 150 years by the Ottoman Turks, once owned by Franciscans, Jesuits, now a thriving Catholic church with holy masses, concerts, plenty of weddings, thousands of tourists. Mathias Church offers the historical beauty of traditional Gothic churches with delicate turrets and colourful tile roofs.
The bastion, a neo-Gothic masquerade that looks medieval and offers some of the best views in Budapest, was built as a viewing platform in 1905 by Frigyes Schulek, the architect behind Matthias Church. Its name was taken from the medieval guild of fishermen responsible for defending this stretch of the castle wall. The seven gleaming white turrets represent the Magyar tribes that entered the Carpathian Basin in the late 9th century.
The Chain Bridge was the first permanent stone-bridge connecting Pest and Buda, and only the second permanent crossing on the whole length of the river Danube. It is one of the symbolic buildings of Budapest, the most widely known bridge of the Hungarian capital.
Its construction was proposed by Count István Széchenyi, one of the leading figures in 18th century Hungary. Its official name is Széchenyi Chain Bridge. Works were started in 1839 to the plans of English engineer William Tierney Clark with the financial support of Baron György Sina, a Viennese financier. The construction was supervised by Scottish engineer Adam Clark, who later on went on to marry a Hungarian girl and settled down in Hungary. The place at the Buda end of the bridge has been named after him. The inauguration of the Chain Bridge took place on 20 November 1849. Below is a view of the bridge from a tunnel.
After a very enjoyable walk through the medieval nostalgia of the Buda part of Budapest, we crossed the river and were ready for lunch at the Spoon Restaurant – a ship anchored on the Danube river. Together with friends I had made in the tour group who came from Columbia, California and Mumbai, we enjoyed a delicious light lunch, beautiful views of the Danube, delighted in learning about each other’s countries and cultures and marvelled at the wonderful weather.
View of the Danube river from the Spoon restaurant
I thoroughly enjoyed the intriguing blend of tangy flavours of the grilled chicken,strips of parsnips and pureed rhubarb served with mash potatoes as seen below:
Thank you for reading and travelling this journey with me.
For those who stumble across this post, I hope you take the time to stop and listen to some of the music I’ve put together. To my regular followers, thank you for your loyal stopping by. This is still a post I do at Sundown here in the South and it’s been an awesome blue skies day.
I’ve renamed this post “Soulful Sundays” with the hope that you will enjoy some of the music that moves my soul. Where I can find live versions I try because it’s great to feel like you are attending a concert. I’ve mentioned to some that I once had a fantasy to be a DJ. Since that dream didn’t realise, I have created my own Studio and hope you’ll find among these tunes a special dedication to you or someone you love. Enjoy what remains of your Sunday and have an awesome week ahead! 🌹🌹🌹
I loved the Robert Ludlum spy thrillers and just as he packed thrilling action into his books with his protagonists dashing all over Europe. I thought I’d do the same with a dash into Eastern Europe which until now has been unchartered territory for me. So with two Sundays to spare, I joined a tour group to Prague as soon as I arrived in Vienna and a day trip to Budapest on the Sunday of my return back home. I was not disappointed and would love to return to these cities for an extended exploration.
It is a three hour drive on the express-way from Vienna to Prague. Although we left on a cloudy day, it was a pleasant drive through Moravia and the rolling, lush agricultural landscapes now under private ownership. As we drew closer to the cities, it was evident that industries were moving in and hopefully this bodes well for the Czech economy. There was certainly a hive of tourist activity as we entered St Wencaslas Square in Prague. It is the heart of entertainment and nightlife and the entrance to the commercial centre of Prague. This centre dates back to the 14th century.
Unlike other European cities, Prague managed to retain much of its heritage despite some destruction of lives and property towards the end of WW II. It has preserved its beautiful architecture and as seen below in the square, cranes are to be seen in a number of places restoring old building facades. It’s rich in its history and is a perfect place for walking tours through a maze of cobbled walkways.
Nevertheless, it is still fascinating to admire the beautifully decorative artwork on many of the buildings which give this city its unique character.
There are two plaques on the ground near St. Wenceslas which commemorate those killed during the communist era. One is dedicated to Jan Palach, who set himself on fire in protest at the Soviet invasion.
In the Old Town square which dates back 600-700 years, the gothic Church of “Our Lady before Tyn” can be seen below with its 80 metre high twin towers. On the left hand side is the Astronomical clock. Prague was declared a UNESCO world heritage site. Given its history, my companions and I were a bit disappointed by the number of popular Western franchises that could be found around every corner – you know the coffee and burger variety.
Prague’s astronomical clock dates back to the 1400s. It comprises of an astronomical dial representing the sun and the moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details, the “Walk of the Apostles”. It displays hourly pop outs of figures and other sculptures, and a calendar dial with medallions representing the different months.
I was lucky to meet up with some wonderful fellow tourists and though we didn’t have the time, we tried to imagine what we would discover in the Museum of Torture.
The building below marks the entrance to St Charles Bridge where tourists compete for pictures of the Vitava River, the castle and themselves of course. What did we do before selfies? 😀
Commissioned by King Charles IV in 1357, Prague’s most stunning bridge spans 16 arches and is lined with 30 Baroque statues of religious figures.
One of the most popular statues on Charles Bridge is the Statue of St John Nepomuk (also referred to as Jan Nepomucky). It is the 8th statue on the right hand if you are heading from Old Town Square towards the Prague Castle.
John of Nepomuk was a priest in Prague under King Wenceslas IV (son of Charles IV). The Queen made a confession to John of Nepomuk. Unfortunately for him, the King being a very suspicious man, pressed John of Nepomuk for the Queen’s confessions which John of Nepomuk would not reveal, not even to the King, because it would be against his commitment of confidentiality. John of Nepomuk was therefore executed by being thrown into the Vltava River from the bridge and drowned.
Tradition says that if you rub the bronze plaque beneath the statue (the one depicting St John being thrown off the bridge), you will one day return to Prague. Alas – I forgot to touch it. 😀
The castle looms up ahead from the St Charles Bridge. I was told by a friend who once lived in Prague that this was the best place to get a view of the city. Unfortunately, our time was limited to do this leg of the walk.
The Vitava river as seen from Charles Bridge
These interesting cars caused quite a stir as they passed by.
The levitation trick below is said to be quite common. Still, it had us baffled.
Prague is famous for its Bohemian Crystal which can be shipped to your country.
Dining in the Dungeon: Between myself and my two newly acquired friends, we couldn’t decide where to eat since there are plenty of pubs and commercial restaurants. Instinct and adventure led us down three ominous sets of stairs where we wondered if we wouldn’t be on the menu. Well, this was certainly an atmospheric eating place!
Of course I had to try out the Czech Goulash and I was not disappointed. This was an ideal meal given the inclement weather outside. The green chilly was the burner and the fluffy dumplings were to die for! A good jug of Czech beer was a perfect accompaniment.
For dessert, we stopped at one of the smaller street outlet and joined the long queues for this decadent dessert which is a type of doughnut cone stuffed with fillings of your choice. We chose the Strawberry and cream option which you need to keep space for since it is very filling.
Thank you for visit and you are welcome to share your experiences of Prague. I would love to have spent more time here. Join me next week in my visit to Budapest.
Today marks my first post of Soulful Sundays. Most likely, you will hear some of my favourite artists that I’ve posted before. I’m still keeping it mellow but drawing from a wider repertoire of music and artists that warm my heart and soul because they hold special memories for me. While I’ll dip into some of my classics, my choices will not be time bound. I hope that among the songs you’ll find relaxation for a Sunday afternoon and…. better still if the music moves your soul. I’ve just returned from a wonderful trip to Vienna and thought it fitting to include a song performed by Brian Mcknight in Vienna. He was also part of a recent line up here in our SA “Joy of Jazz” Festival. As usual, I wish you all a wonderful week ahead! ❤️❤️❤️❤️