We walked across one of the bridges over the Danube and visited St. Stephen's Basilica, as well as saw the magnificent Hungarian Parliament Building, the second largest in Europe.
Interestingly, it was built during a time of Austrian occupation. The reigning Austrians didn't want the Hungarians to build something that lasted, so they were forced to build it out of the native limestone, which would deteriorate over time. As a result, even to this day they Hungarian government must constantly perform repairs and refurbishment on the structure.
Before dinner we took a trip up to the top of one of the most unique sights in Budapest, Gellért Hill.
The Hill is named after Saint Gerard (Gellert), a Venician bishop who was one of the first Christian missionaries to the area. The locals did not take well to his efforts, as they placed him in a barrel with spikes hammered inwards and rolled him down the hill into the river. They certainly have a rish history here! Since then the hill has been used multiple times for its stratgic military position. The statue that can be seen at the top of the hill is the Liberty Statue which was erected by the grateful Hungarian people in rememberance of the actions of the Soviets when they liberated Budapest from the Nazis during World War II. However, as we know from history, things with the Soviets soon soured, and the Soviets actually used the hill as a location from which to shell the city below during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.
After dinner we took a boat ride up and down the Danube River to see the city at night. It was beautiful seeing all these historic buildings and cathedrals all lit up, shining like beacons of the testament of hope in the night. Pete was not exaggerating when he said this was one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe. I can't wait to come back here with our friends from IPAI when we are done in Germany. For now I have to pack everything up as the three of us are getting on a train early in the morning to take us through Salzburg, Austria and then on to Kiefersfelden, Germany!
We will have a couple of days to settle in and to prepare before everything gets started on the 5th. I hope I'm ready; I've been practicing my music and trying to learn everything I can before we get there...I can't wait!
Next time you hear from me, I'll be in beautiful Bavaria!