Europe Day Four: Budapest Hungary. Exploring Margaret Island And Shoes On The Danube.
I slept eleven hours my first night in Budapest. I was refreshed when I awoke at 7 a.m. and decided to walk to Margaret Island located on the Danube River. I only decided to make this trip ten days in advance of my flight so I did not have time to research the history of the city or of this island. I had heard there were some nature trails here so , after a cup of coffee I was on my way.
It was mostly sunny and pleasant with temperatures in the low 60’s as I made my way down from Castle Hill to the Danube river. It was quiet in the neighborhoods on the hill but once I got down into the city near the river the streets were filled with folks going to work, other running or walking for exercise. There were a lot of parents walking their children to school. It was enjoyable to see how many parents interacted happily with their children on the walk to school.
As I neared the river I approached this church. Here I heard a man singing Eastern Orthodox songs I remember from my grandfathers church. I felt so at home here. . I was already enjoying my stay immensely. And it would get better.
I crossed a busy street and walked along the Danube River. As I neared the bridge leading to the island I had to walk a few blocks out of my way , because of a trolley track. I had to be on the other side of the bridge to access the island. It was about a 1/1/2 walk from my hotel to the bridge and the island.
Once on the island the hustle and bustle of the morning traffic in Budapest disappeared. The island is 1.6 miles long and about .35 miles wide. The Margaret Island was originally known as Rabbit Island. St. Margaret, daughter of a Hungarian King lived in a Dominican convent on the island in the 13th century and the island was later named after her. So much history on this island.in the short time I researched it. Too much to tell here so please check out the links. .
I was soon on a quiet tree lined trail, many of them oak and chestnut. There is limited bus and motor vehicle traffic on the island.
It was enjoyable walking under the canopy of the ancient trees. There were few people on the trails, mainly folks walking or running for exercise. It was a peaceful walk.
I soon became familiar with some of the critters on the island. I would see a lot of these birds on my hikes in Hungary, they were everywhere, the hooded crow. It was interesting to observe how similar, yet different, the birds are from the ones I know in my native Pennsylvania .
This was a Eurasian blackcap, a warbler species. We have many species of warblers in Pennsylvania.
This was a Eurasian nuthatch, very similar to the nuthatches back home.
I continued my walk through the park, and on a trail along the river.
In addition to the birds, I saw flowers growing in the gardens along the trail I knew very well, such at his beautiful peony.
My walk took me to the ruins of the convent where the islands namesake lived. It was destroyed by the Turks in the 16th century . I roamed the ruins, reflecting on the peaceful and simple life of the nuns who lived here in the middle ages.
I soon found the grave of St. Margaret. I again reflected on her life so long ago.
Here I heard the beautiful song of a nightingale for the first time. I have heard so much of these birds but never heard or saw one. I did both on this hike. I saw the pretty bird in a tree and was able to capture this image. It was a wonderful bird.
Another bird I have heard of but hadn’t heard or seen, an Eurasian blackbird. Unlike the squawking songs of the blackbirds back home this bird has a beautiful song.
My walk continued under the trees and I found many statues of Hungarian authors, artists, politicians and musicians along the trail.
I came to a beautiful old church , the chapel of St. Michael , which predated the monasteries on the island. The chapel was also destroyed by the Turks but rebuilt from the ruins. The original bell was found. It is the oldest bell in Hungary.
I soon came to the beautiful Japanese gardens.
I spent some time enjoying this tranquil place.
The water lilies were in bloom.
There were a few different specie each with a different color.
I next walked past some parks, businesses and a school. There were a lot more folks active now as the morning advanced. And their were dozens of schoolchildren roaming the park with their teachers. I soon came to the northern tip of the island. These are the Buda hills in the distance across the Danube River.
I now made my way back. On the way I saw a few more birds including this white backed woodpecker,
this great tit. Here is a link to a gallery on my website with some more photo of the birds I saw on the island. Europe Day Four Budapest Margaret Island birds June 3 2022.
I walked a different trail back and came upon a wonderful rose garden.
There were so many beautiful roses in bloom, I could have sat and enjoyed their beauty and fragrance all day.
I walked back to the entrance to the island walking past the amusement park and the water fountain. It was late morning and the park was now crowded with families enjoying the wonderful June weather. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my hike on Margaret Island. Europe Day Four Hungary Budapest Margaret Island hike June 3 2022.
I had already walked over five mile, and it was getting hot, but a lot of friends who had visited Budapest told me I had to see the Shoes on the Danube Memorial. It was a Memorial to the thousands of Jews who were killed by the right wing militia during World War II.
So I walked over the Danube and walked toward the Memorial on the other side of the magnificent Parliament building.
The building is impressive and was rebuilt after World War II.
Unfortunately, I knew I wouldn’t be able to tour the building on this trip.
As I walked along the Danube River, I now had views of the building I now knew, including my hotel on Castle Hill. It was another spectacular view.
After passing the Parliament Building I saw a crowd of people along the river.
A local artist painstakingly sculpted replicas of the shoes of the victims who were killed and tossed in the river.
The right wing militia had them remove their shoes and other valuable items and sold them. So sad such hatred existed and still exists in our world.
I reflected on the people who lost their lives, for no reason, and represented by these iron shoes, especially the children’s shoes.
I had walked eight miles. I was tired and hungry. In my younger days I would have gotten a bit to eat and walked back to my hotel, Not anymore. I took a taxi back to my hotel, had a nice lunch and edited photos until me evening walk and dinner. Here is a link with some more photos from my walk to the Shoes on the Danube Memorial. Europe Day Four Hungary Budapest Shoe Memorial walk June 3 2022.
“Don’t listen to what they say, go see” – Chinese Proverb