We started the day, having somewhat mastered the Budapest public transportation system, by going to the Jewish quarter to visit the largest synagogue in Europe (third largest in the world). It's an eclectic mixture of styles, combining Jewish, Christian, and Islamic influences; from the Christian style podiums and layout of the church, to the Islamic art in the walls and chandeliers, to the Jewish symbols, words and references, being in the church was amazing.
I'm not sure why, but while I listened to the tour guide, I felt my heart move. To be clear, I've given up on religion in all its forms, but hearing our guide talk about and point to the Tetragrammaton caught me, suddenly, in a battle against tears. When one says the word Adonai, it still means something to me. When I hear about how the Jews suffered (not only the Jews, but all of Hungary, as I will explain in my next post), and how they persevered, I am moved. When I see a place of worship with so many symbols from different religions, I am, without any doubt, inspired.
My favorite verses in the Bible (or Torah, whatever), verses that to this day I can't read or recite without tearing up are Numbers 6:23-27, also known as the Priestly Blessing.
May the LORD bless you and guard you
May the LORD make His face shed light upon you and be gracious unto you
May the LORD lift up His face unto you and give you peace
I couldn't sit there in that synagogue and not think those words.
I couldn't think of those words and not fall apart.
Outside the synagogue is a cemetery (though it's not customary to have a cemetery next to a synagogue) and a Holocaust Memorial Park. I'll leave you to figure out what I've taken pictures of and what it means.
After the synagogue, we left to have lunch and then climb up Gellért Hill, which has some of the best views of Budapest for photography, but you're going to pay for it. It's 771 feet up and hey idiots guess what, it's walking only. Climbing that hill was just what the doctor ordered right after lunch. But we walked it, took pictures all along the way, and met a violinist that we gave $4 to in hopes he would leave us alone, but turns out, actually encouraged him to take pictures.
We ended the day with dinner on one of the boats on the Danube. You should ask Vida how she liked her consommé. It had one filled piece of pasta. One small carrot. And one stalk head of broccoli. And then a nice beef broth poured with a flourish.
Let's just say she was stealing my pasta afterwards. Incessantly.
We ended the night on another boat. A night cruise of the Danube. And one or two amazing pictures.