Esztergom and Štúrovo

Quote

This weekend we went to Esztergom, Hungary and Štúrovo, Slovakia.  Esztergom is small city located about 30 miles north of Budapest.  It took us about an hour and a half to get there via train.  This charming little town is home to the Esztergom Basilica, the largest church in Hungary.  It is also home to the largest Christian museum in Hungary (which we unfortunately

forgot about and did not visit).

 

Our visit started off by crossing

Sign on the Mária Valéria Bridge indicating entry to Slovakia

the Mária Valéria Bridge to see Štúrovo, Slovakia.  We were shocked to find that there was no border protection whatsoever, people were free to cross the bridge back and forth. Štúrovo is very underwhelming, it’s just a normal town with many pastel colored apartment buildings.  It’s an ancient town that’s been inhabited for at least a thousand years but being a border town especially one on the Danube will bring war and destruction.  Becuase of this much of the town is not very old and the biggest attraction in the town is a large thermal bath resort (which we did not visit but saw on the map).

Apartment building in Štúrovo, Slovakia

View of the Basilica from Stúrovo, Slovakia

We ate lunch at a restaurant in Štúrovo and then crossed back for the night.  The next morning it was raining but we hadn’t walked around Esztergom and we wanted to see the Basilica and another cool looking church we had spotted while searching for dinner.  All of my pictures from inside the Basilica didn’t come out very well because I was using my phone.  But the Basilica is much much bigger than it looks unfortunately the dome and a third of the church were under construction and we were unable to see many of the paintings.

Church on top of hill in Esztergom, Hungary

We made the trek across town to this church which was nothing special, but it did give a spectacular view of the Basilica.

View of Esztergom Basilica from other side of town

The town was small and homely.  We took this trip to seek reprieve from city living and we certainly got it.  We have a lot more trips in the upcoming weeks and months we will be going to Lake Balaton (wine country in Hungary), Athens, Barcelona, Prague, Vienna, Italy with more to be planned.

Stay tuned,

Zack

An Introduction to Budapest

Image

 

A view of the Pest side from atop the Buda castle

When I arrived in Budapest I didn’t know what to expect. I had only heard of the city six months ago when my friend suggested it as one of the locations we should consider to travel abroad. Other than seeing a few pictures of the Parliament Building and other famous structures on Google Images, I had no idea what to expect. When we initially arrived, we were met with heavy rain, massive lightning strikes, and fireworks going off in the city… all topped off by a crazy taxi driver going 130 k (80 mph) through it all.

 

 

 

After that hectic night, I got to see the city in its entire glory, and I was immediately blown away. In our two group tours we got to see the beautiful architecture, learn the history, and try the food in both Buda and Pest. The city immediately took hold of me with its beauty and atmosphere.

You won’t find major businesses, heavy traffic, or skyscrapers in Budapest but the city overcompensates with breathtaking architecture and rich history. This seems to be the biggest distinction between most European and U.S. cities, and something I love. A lot of U.S. cities feel and look the same, as where in Europe, each city has its own distinct background, culture, and atmosphere.

The outside of Szimpla Kert, one of the  many Ruin Bars (bars established in run down and abandon buildings) found throughout Budapest

 

Even with it’s drastic differences from the Boston area, my transition between cultures has been surprisingly smooth. Although English is spoken more commonly in the city center, I have still found the language barrier less difficult than I imagined. However, I was surprised when our RA informed us that Hungarian social norms are very different than those in the U.S. She told us that people in Hungary kept to themselves, meaning they would not smile or say hello when they walked by someone on the street. She told us not to take offence if someone doesn’t acknowledge us if we signaled with a friendly gesture and explained that it was just part of the culture.

Other than the language boundary, I have adjusted to Budapest surprisingly well by learning the transit system and Hungarian cultural and social norms. I am excited to explore and become accustomed to the beautiful city of Budapest and to learn as much that I can about Hungarian culture and history!

Welcome!

Follow this Fall 2018’s Office of Study Abroad & International Experiences Global Correspondents: Paul Murphy and Zachary Krausman, on their studies in Budapest, Hungary!

Zachary is a UMass Lowell Computer Science major with an Economics minor. Paul is a UMass Lowell Philosophy Major. This Fall, they are both studying through the UMass Lowell Partner-Led: AIFS Study Abroad in Budapest.

You can also read blogs from other trips across the globe!

Follow this Fall 2018’s Office of Study Abroad & International Experiences Global Correspondent's, Paul Murphy and Zachary Krausman, on their studies in Budapest, Hungary!