Sunday, October 30, 2016

Our last stop in Budapest - the Hungarian Horseman! Day 8 con't 6/2/16

After our morning city tour of Budapest, we went back to the ship for lunch, and prepared for our first optional excursion, the Hungarian Horsemen! We'd be taking a ride into the countryside to see some traditional equestrian horsemanship! When we left Budapest, the rain had stopped, so of course, Alex and I didn't think to bring umbrellas....that turned out to be a mistake! We should have noticed that the skies were still fairly ominous!  But off we went!

This was really our first trip out of Budapest, since we'd arrived a few days ago, and our driver pointed out some of the contrasts in architecture as we traveled along the highway to our destination. These are some of the apartment houses that were built during the communist rule. 

We drove for maybe thirty minutes and arrived at the Lazar Equestrian Park.  The Lazar brothers are world champion coach riders and their park is quite popular in Hungary!

We were greeted with tastings of either Palinka, which is a traditional Hungarian fruit brandy that dates back to the 14th century, or a Hungarian Wine. I definitely was not a fan of the Palinka! The wine however, that was quite nice!

We has some time to mingle with the others in our group for a bit, and take some photos until the horse show began.

The horse show is meant to represent the role horses have played in the nation's history. The Hungarian's, not wanting to lose the strong country's equestrian connection, have elevated horsemanship to an art form, and that is what this show is about!

The show ended in the pouring rain, but that didn't stop the performers, or the horses!  Afterward, we took a covered carriage ride through the grounds and were able to go to the stables to meet the horses. This was really a great part of the day.

I'm pretty sure Alex would have spent all day here with the horses if he was given the opportunity! I think he pet every single one of them!

We also stopped in the Hall of the World Champions, which is where just some of the medals and honors that the Lazar Brothers have earned over the years are on display.

There are other animals on the farm that we could have gone to visit, but in the rain, it wasn't very practical to do on our day. So, we made the most of our time with the horses, and then it was time to head back into the city. Overall we enjoyed this excursion!

When we got back to Budapest, we had one last spot we wanted to be sure to see.  It was time to visit the "Shoes on the Danube" Memorial. This memorial sits in front of the Parliament building on the promenade and represents the victims shot into the Danube by the Arrow Cross Militia in 1944 - 1945. There are 60 pairs of rusted cast shoes made out of iron. The different styles and sizes of shoes, including men, women, children - businessmen, athletic shoes, and dress shoes, represent how no one was spared from the atrocities of being lined up along the river and being shot in the back, only to fall in to their death.  This is one of the most visited, and incredibly moving memorials in Budapest.

After pausing here to reflect on what life must have been like then, and being thankful for where we are today, but never losing sight of the past...we made our way back to the ship for dinner and then it was time to finally set sail! Tomorrow we'd wake up in a new town!

We've set sail!  Cruising along the Danube at last!