International Travel

As discussed in my previous email, here are the comparisons of Budapest vs. Vienna, both of which are very similar to Prague but Budapest in particular never gets as crowded!  Thoughts on two cities …



Budapest highlights included The Barber of Seville at the State Opera House — a bit challenging sung in Italian with Hungarian translation, no discernible air conditioning and rock-hard seats but a gorgeous venue; visiting the largest Jewish Synagogue in all of Europe (#2 in the world) where Hungarian priests risked their lives to hide the Torah from the Nazis, enabling the original scrolls to be saved (talk about Righteous Gentiles); the birthplace of Theodor Herzl; the Hungarian Statue of Liberty ironically contributed by the Russians; seeing the city from both the Buda and the Pest sides, divided by the Danube River.  This rebirth of this city is really in its infancy considering it was under Communist rule until 1989 … 


Vienna highlights included desserts, of course (start with the REAL highlights); the Albertina Museum (Impressionists); Jazzland (intimate club with great music);  Schonbrunn Palace — royal family summer home which comprises 500 acres including the world’s oldest zoo and could easily consume days to see all; Vienna State Opera House and the Konzert Haus.  There is clearly greater wealth in Vienna, not surprising given it’s history as the Austrian-Hungarian Empire capital and being a democracy since 1945. 


Schonbrunn Palace

So in comparing the two cities, both have gorgeous and historical buildings but Vienna has a big graffiti problem (that just kills me) while Budapest is more pristine and less bustling by comparison.  If you like to cook, buy saffron and paprika at the Central Market in Budapest — great, cheap, and plentiful. We had the most efficient and pleasant train trip between the two cities with the cleanest bathroom and great service, other than getting jacked by the two “porters” in the Budapest train station (hard to argue with the guys AFTER they shlepped all 5 bags).  On the other hand, the Nigerian taxi driver in Vienna spoke fantastic English, was extremely honest, and a great lover of America and Americans (sending his son to college in the U.S. next year).  Engaging people from all over the globe is a fantastic part of the travel experience! 



Teri B.