Monday, July 30, 2012

Water Water Everywhere - Margaret Island, Obuda, And Gellert Baths - Budapest

June 10th - Sunday

Since it was Sunday we had to hit up somethings that we knew were open. I wanted to go to church but English speaking churches aren't that easy to come by when you are in a non-English speaking country.  I made sure to set aside some personal time to remember Jesus and how he died for my sins.  It was the best I could do under the situations.  I feel that God understood.

The first place we chose to go was Margaret Island.  It is a real island (they don't just give that name out willy-nilly, now!) in the Danube river in the northern part of Budapest.  On the way we came across this statue.  I say it is a man, Frankie says women.  All I could find out about it was where it was located, Boráros square.  So, I guess we are allowed to make our own guess.

Boráros tér statue Budapest
Once we got off the tram (or was it a bus? I can't remember now) we were treated to a great view of Parliament and Liberty Statue (way back on the hill).
Parliament from Margaret Island Budapest
We also saw this huge (think size of a Smart car) concrete replica of the Hungarian crown.  Notice that the cross on top is crooked.  The crown has been hidden, stolen, lost, and found, so basically it has been abused.  Somewhere along the way the cross got bent and they just kept that way.  Gives it character!
Gaint cement Hungarian crown Margaret Island Budapest
Margaret Island is very beautiful.  It is basically a huge park.  It is green, quiet when compared to the city, and peaceful.
Green green Margaret Island Budapest
We rented an electric car for an hour and went exploring.
Jennifer and Frankie in electric car Margaret Island Budapest
I am sure you can buy lángos (Hungarian fried bread) all over Budapest, but we happened to find a place selling them on Margaret Island so we partook!  There are many different toppings you can chose from but we opted for the traditional sour cream and cheese.  It was greasy so of course it was good!
Sour cream and cheese Langos Margaret Island Budapest
One of the things I wanted to see on Margaret Island was the musical fountain.  It plays every hour and we found it just as it started.  It played for a good 5 to 10 minutes!  I apologize in advance for the shaky video.  I try to be still, but it just doesn't happen.
I am not sure if it was suppose to have water in it or not, I mean it is called a fountain.   It was bone dry and in need of some repairs, but the music was pretty!
Musical fountain Margaret Island Budapest
Our hour was up for the electric car, so we returned it.  Of course, the warning of, after an hour the car will stop running, did make us get it back a little earlier than needed.  Talk about motivation!  An hour was really all we needed for Margaret Island.  It is a very pretty park, what more can I say?
We made our way to our next stop, the part of Budapest called Óbuda (which means Old Buda).  Budapest is actually made up of Buda, Pest, and Old Buda.  There were two museums I wanted to visit in Óbuda.  One was the Vasarely Museum.
Vasarely Museum Entrance Obuda Budapest
Inside the lobby of the museum we encountered the following.
Only time I saw Noi and Ferfi-Woman and Man- marked on restroom in Vasarely Museum Obuda Budapest
These were the bathrooms and I know the male/female symbols are understood by most, but I get them mixed up.  I am glad that I had studied a few words of Hungarian because I knew noi meant female and ferfi meant male.  It meant that I wasn't going to get a surprise or give one!
Then I went in the correct bathroom and was presented with this.
Lots of contraptions in one bathroom Vasarely Museum Obuda Budapest
Holy cow!  The thing on the wall in the middle was the hand dryer, that I know because I used it.  The things on either side, well, I am still wondering.  The water heaters?  This had to be an older building/bathroom because then I found this.
Shelf toilet Vasarely Museum Obuda Budapest
The toilet has a shelf.  Yes, I said a shelf.  What ever comes out of you, for lack of a better way of putting it, sits on that shelf for your viewing pleasure until you can figure out how to flush it.  Fun times at the Vasarely museum and we haven't even gotten to the paintings!
Now, normally, I am not much into paintings.  Yes, they are beautiful.  Yes, they are amazing.  But they tend to blend all together when you are art-stupid like me.  So, when I read about Vasarely and how he used geometry to make op art, (optical art, like optical illusions), I wanted to see them!
As we walked around there were these older women in each room and on each floor who followed us, watching us.  It was so unnerving! I had to pay extra to take pictures but then I felt weird taking them because this older lady just kept watching and following.  There weren't very many people at the museum when we went so we were the only ones she had to watch.  I tried to ignore the older women and just did what I paid to do!
It is hard to tell in this picture because of the glass, the glare, and the angle, but each of those red squares are the same shade of red.  Vasarely showed how different the red squares looked when the background was a different color.  How cool is that!  
Vasarely-same red on different colored background Obuda Budapest
Another painting that I really liked is this one of the spheres. This is not a three-dimensional piece of art, it is flat!  I love that!
Vasarely-all straight lines Obuda Budapest
And what is even more amazing is the fact that there is not one curved line in that entire painting!  Here is a close up for proof.
Vasarely-all straight lines close Obuda Budapest
Here is one more op art piece for you.  Flat as flat can be!  I promise!  I saw it in person!  The question I have for you is this:  Do you see both the tunnel going inwards AND the pyramid like object (with top cut off) coming out towards you?
Vasarely-tunnel effect Obuda Budapest
After the op art loveliness we continued on through Óbuda to the Holy Trinity Statue.  Note the statue closest to the bike in the picture.
The Holy Trinity Statue at Szentlélek tér Obuda Budapest
Here is a close-up of his hand.  Pobrecito!  That had to hurt!
Broken finger on The Holy Trinity Statue at Szentlélek tér Obuda Budapest
Continuing on, is it just me or does this building creep you out too?  Lazy-eyed little bugger!
The house sees all Obuda Budapest
The other museum I wanted to see was the Imre Varga Museum.  He is mainly a sculptor but also paints. He is the one who created the Holocaust memorial called Tree of Life that is behind the Dohány Street Jewish synagogue. 
Before actually getting to the door of the museum you get a taste of his work.  These life-size women with umbrellas were made by Varga.  I loved them!  And guess what, it was actually raining some when we saw them.  How fitting!  I read that replicas are in the gardens of wealthy summer homes on Lake Balaton (about 85 miles southwest of Budapest).
Women with Umbrellas close Obuda Budapest
Frankie took this picture just goofing around and it turned out to be one of my favorites.
Windows flowers and Woman with Umbrella Obuda Budapest
Once inside the museum it is almost overwhelming with all the pieces that are in there (all by one man!).   I don't know what it is about older ladies in museums in this area but there was another one in here.  She didn't just follow me around though.  Oh no!  She showed us into all the rooms and explained what most of the pieces were, what they were called, and if there was a larger production of it somewhere in Budapest, she told me where it was.  At least I think that is what she said, because most if not all of it was in Hungarian.
Frankie thought that was the funniest thing.  He wasn't really into it so he went kind of fast through it then sat down at the end to wait for me.  We (me and my new best friend/tour guide) would go into a room and she would say something and point to something and I would nod my head and smile.  Occasionally, there would be something I recognized an I was able to say, "Oh, yes!"   Also on occasion, my new best friend/tour guide would know the word in English and would say it and then I was able to say, "Oh, yes!"
It was a very different experience, but I liked it.  Again we were the only ones there, so I am not sure what they do if there are more people.  Maybe I got a special privilege?  I sort of wanted to go to this museum on Saturday at 10 AM because that is when Imre Varga who is in his 80's goes to the museum to meet and greet people visiting.  He speaks very good English and loves to explain his works.  How cool is that!
Speaking of his works here are some.
This is a small replica of the Tree of Life that is at behind the Dohány Street Jewish synagogue. I was able to say, "Oh, yes!", at this one!
Small Tree of Life Imre Varga Museum Budapest
This one is called, Partisan.  I couldn't find any information on it and my new best friend/tour guide didn't know enough English for this, but based on the name and what I saw, I knew it had to do with the Holocaust. Some Jews who managed to escape from ghettos and camps formed their own fighting units and were called partisans.
Partisan sculpture Imre Varga Museum Budapest
When communism reigned there were basically three type of artists: banned, tolerated, and supported.  Varga was in the tolerated category and the work below carefully commented on life under the Soviets. The medals attached to the sculpture belongs to Varga, himself.  They are from his military life in the pre-communist era and anyone who had them ended up persecuted (yes, persecuted, not prosecuted!) by the communist in the 1950's.  This is how Varga "got rid" of his.
Solider sculptures Imre Varga Museum Budapest
Did I mention there were was an outside section too?  Here we have a ballerina.  I am not sure what makes it a ballerina but that is what it was called.
Ballerina Imre Varga Museum Budapest
Here is the smaller, more colorful version inside.
Small Ballerina Imre Varga Museum Budapest
And we have the prostitutes.  Again, I am not familiar with such topics, but that is what they were called.
Prostitute statues Imre Varga Museum Budapest
Here is the smaller inside version.
Small version of prositutes Imre Varga Museum Budapest
And since we started with the big version of the women with umbrellas, let's end the museum tour with the small version that is inside the museum.
Small version of Women with Umbrellas Imre Varga Museum Budapest
I enjoy sculptures so going is something that I would recommend.
Our trip to Margaret Island and Óbuda was over but we still had time left in our day.  We opted for a trip to a different bath.  We already had gone to Szechenyi Baths, so now it was time to hit up one called Gellért Baths.  Szechenyi is more a locals bath where as Gellért is a more tourist bath. Of course, anyone can go to either one.
Gellert Hotel and Baths Budapest
Gellért is prettier than Szechenyi but it is also more expensive.  Gellért is also segregated by gender except on Sunday.  We went on a Sunday, but it was still nerve racking walking into a doorway marked Men Only! 
I guess in my quest to make up for not taking any pictures inside Szechenyi, I managed to not take any outside pictures of Gellért.  Go figure!  One of the cool things that Gellért did have outside was a wave pool.  You have to be careful in it though.  Frankie managed to bang his leg very badly on something and you have to watch out that the waves don't pull your swimsuit off!
Here are some pictures of the inside of Gellért.  
This is one of the main pools.  As you can see, it was not very crowded.  I think it was because the water was 80 degrees, which is cold, I don't care what anyone else says!  I got in and swam a little while but never really did get use to the water temperature.  I did have to wear a swim cap, which of course, I didn't have.  But you can buy, what is really just a shower cap, there for 50 cents.
Inside pool - 27 C Gellert Baths  Budapest
Details of the water spouts that fed into the cold pool.
Inside pool spouts Gellert Baths  Budapest
We also went into the baths where the water temperature was 100 degrees.  Much better and pretty too!

37 C pool decor Gellert Baths Budapest
Let me tell you about the  next two pictures.  As soon as we walked into the room that had the 100 degree waters my camera fogged up.  I was so disappointed because this room was stunning!  I took the picture below and then used my photo editing software to try to fix it. The first one has been "fixed" and the second one is what it looked like with a fogged up lens.
Angels in the 37 C pool Gellert Baths Budapest
Original Angels in the 37 C pool Gellert Baths Budapest
We had to leave Gellért before we were ready because they were closing.  But that is ok, it had been a long day and we needed to head back to the hotel. We decided to walk a little way instead of getting on the tram.  We crossed the Liberty bridge and I took some pictures along the way. (I know you are sooo surprised.)
Liberty Bridge Budapest
The top of the bridge up close.
Liberty Bridge Crown Budapest 
View from the bridge.
View from Liberty Bridge Budapest
I just thought this was funny.  The dark bricks are a bicycle lane and in the bicycle lane there are zebra stripes for pedestrians.
Crosswalk in the bicycle lane Budapest
We swam, we walked, we needed a snack before going back to the hotel.  Neither one of use chose the freshly squizzed juices.  If it isn't a typo then I have no clue what it was.  
Squizzed Juices Budapest
Here is what we did decide on.  Check out that coffee!  It was called melange and at this place it meant that it had:  espresso, frothed milk, honey, and in this case whipped cream.  It is a Viennese type coffee, but I don't know how close it is to a real melange.  I do know that it and the chocolate croissant were delicious!
Tea Chocolate Crossiant and Melange Coffee Budapest
Frankie, being the red blooded American that he is, ordered good old New York cheesecake.  It tasted nothing like any kind of cheesecake either of us have ever had.  He ate it and I tasted it, but I don't think either one of us really cared for it too much.  
Hungarian style New York Cheesecake Budapest
We only have one day left in Budapest and we planned on making the most of it.  So stay tuned for our trip to the Great Market Hall, a tour of the Hungarian Opera House, and a pit stop at the famous New York Cafe!