Today the pilgrims spent several hours on bus traveling through many countries to reach our next destination. We left the Czech Republic, through Slovakia, and went to Hungary.
We had to wait for 30 minutes at the border from Slovakia to Hungary so the youth played frisbee with Father Paul and took a chill!
In Hungary we toured Budapest. Budapest has an interesting history with many stories. Hungary is the only country in this area to not have a Slavic language and so even our guides, Martina and Joshua from the Czech Republic, cannot speak it or really understand it, so we added guides for the day who were amazing and even tried to teach us a few words. The words are very long as there are suffixes at the end!
Highlights of the day included seeing St Matthias which was founded by St Stephen in 1015. It held many coronations including Charles IV, the last Habsburg king. In 1541 when Buda was captured it became the city's mosque. It is said in 1686 when a siege was happening a wall collapsed because of cannon fire and a Madonna statue was behind it. As the Virgin Mary statue appeared before the praying Muslims, the attackers lost morale and the city fell! It was returned to Catholicism. In World War II and Soviet occupation it was occupied by Germans and Soviets and used as a camp. It was renovated by funding from the Hungarian Government.
Other sites of the day included Heroes Square, the Danube River, and Fisherman's Bastion. All were in awe of the immense beauty of Budapest!
The pictures of the shoes on the Danube are a memorial to the Budapest Jews who were shot between 1944-45. They were told to take off their shoes, as shoes were valuable belongings at the time. They were then shot into the river. The memorial was created in 2005 and contains 60 pairs of iron shoes modeled after 1940's shoes. This was a very moving memorial to see.
And finally, Budapest by night