Gellért Baths

One quick, final Budapest post. A group of Women’s Voices Chorus members opted to spend a day at the Gellért Baths rather than on the city tour, and here’s a picture of them enjoying themselves in the swimming pool. Budapest has a long tradition of baths and spas, influenced in part by the Ottoman Turkish era of Hungarian history. The area abounds in natural hot springs, with 130 springs in the city limits, and the baths are one of the city’s most well-known attractions.

Chorus members at Gellert Baths

Chorus members Rachel, Laura D., Laura G., Deborah, and Pauline enjoying themselves at Gellert Baths

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Dinner Cruise on the Danube

Last night many of us had a lovely dinner cruise on the Danube river. As we sailed away at sunset with the “Blue Danube Waltz” playing, we stuffed ourselves with a delicious buffet and freely-flowing Hungarian wine. After eating, our informative guide Nóra gave us a tour of the illuminated buildings and bridges that light up after dark in Buda and Pest. Check out a few pictures:

Boarding the boat for our Danube dinner cruise

Boarding the boat for our Danube dinner cruise

The Hungarian Parliament building after dark

The Hungarian Parliament building after dark

The Chain Bridge over the Danube River

The Chain Bridge over the Danube River

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Post-Concert, Pre-City Tour: Dohány Street Synagogue

Instead of having lunch, a few of us elected to visit the Dohány Street Synagogue, which is the largest synagogue in Europe, and the second largest in the world.

The group on the steps

Front row: Amie, Sarah, Judy
Back row: Richard (Sarah’s husband), Jen G., Diane, Marguerite, Allan

I’m not included because I took the photo. You can imagine me standing next to Judy if you like.

Synagogue Steps

And then they went up the steps.

inside

ceiling & dome

The interior, like the exterior, is colorful and very beautiful, but it felt more like a cathedral than I expected it to. This is because, apparently, it was designed by a man who was not himself Jewish and had never been in a synagogue in his life. Mind you, neither am I nor had I before today, so I don’t really have room to point fingers.

garden

Connected to the synagogue is the memorial garden, very green and full of pigeons. And beautiful as well, of course.

On a completely unrelated note:

One of the trollies that run through Budapest

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Concert in St. Stephen’s Basilica

Today Women’s Voices Chorus gave our first European concert! We provided the music for the noon mass at St. Stephen’s Basilica, the most prominent church in Budapest. During the mass, we sang from the organ loft, which gave us a beautiful and unique perspective on the cathedral. For the final piece of the mass, Allan Friedman’s “Nunc Dimittis,” we stood on the steps in front of the altar, and stayed in that location to give an hour-long performance immediately afterward. Our audience seemed attentive and appreciative – I got the sense that they particularly liked the two Hungarian pieces that we performed, “Esti Dal” and “Huszt” by the Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály.

From the organ loft we had a particularly great view of the sculptures and elaborate gilded ornaments. Although St. Stephen’s Basilica looks old, it was actually only completed in 1905. As our tour guide shared with us later, the edifice took a long time to build, in part because the dome collapsed partway through the construction process. The basilica also houses the reliquary containing St. Stephen’s hand. (St. Stephen, the first king of Hungary around the year 1000 who began converting the nation to Christianity, is much revered here.) Below you can see some photos of the choir practicing in an upper room of the basilica before our performance, and some views of the interior. Stay tuned later for more information and photos from our tour this afternoon – and tonight we’re going on a dinner cruise on the Danube!

WVC Rehearsing in St. Stephen's Basilica

WVC Rehearsing in St. Stephen’s Basilica

The organ in St. Stephen's Basilica

The organ in St. Stephen’s Basilica

The interior of St. Stephen's Basilica

The interior of St. Stephen’s Basilica

Detail of the decoration in St. Stephen's Basilica

Detail of the decoration in St. Stephen’s Basilica

 

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Arrival in Budapest, part 2

More pictures! These come from Diane.

silver-roofed building

Cool but unidentified building with silver domes, near Heroes’ Square

stone circles

A sculpture on the terrace outside the shopping mall near our hotel

window view

View from our hotel window

The hotel we’re staying at is in the Buda half of the city, which is also the hilly half. The Pest half (says our guide) is the flat half.

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Checking into Budapest

Women’s Voices Chorus has arrived in Budapest! After the tour on the way back from the airport, we’ve checked into our modern, clean, attractive rooms in our hotel and are getting ready for our “welcome to Europe” dinner tonight. After traveling since yesterday morning, it feels great to take a hot shower and brush my teeth, and it will feel even better to get a good night’s sleep tonight.

Tomorrow we will kick off our performance schedule with a 12:00 noon mass in St. Stephen’s Basilica, followed immediately by a concert. If you happen to be in Budapest, please come listen to us!

Checking into the Hotel Novotel Congress, Budapest

Checking into the Hotel Novotel Congress, Budapest

Unpacking in Budapest

Unpacking in Budapest

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Arrival in Budapest

I can’t speak for anyone else, but personally I feel kind of like falling over and kind of like running around like a headless chicken. I shall compensate with pictures.

It doesn’t look terribly impressive, but this is Heroes’ Square, where those of us who felt like braving the heat got out and admired the statues and nearby buildings. I have no idea what those are yet, so they’ll have to wait.

A few of us standing around and talking. The guy with his back to the picture is our tour guide.

Rachel apparently decided to take a picture of a group of us — it probably turned out similar to the one above, only more densely populated — and I decided to take a picture of her doing so.

… We’re all a little punch-drunk right now. As I write this, it’s been nearly a full 24 hours since we first arrived at RDU, and in that time I don’t think any of us have had more than a couple hours of sleep.

Anyway, after Heroes’ Square, we piled back into the bus and headed towards Gellért Hill. We caught a glimpse of St Stephen’s Basilica, where we’ll be singing tomorrow, on the way:


It looks more impressive from Gellért Hill.

The Parliament Building (Országház) was also visible.

And so was what our map calls the Budavári Palota, or the Buda Castle Palace.

Lisa Oskardmay got some photos of us in transit; her photos can be found here.

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