Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Budapest & Prague: Two birds of a feather...

I guess they are neighboring countries, so one shouldn't be surprised there are so many similarities, but Budapest and Prague are a couple of real Twin Cities. I will try to run down a list of the numerous similarities, as well as note a couple of the differences I noticed. (Budapest pics are on the left and those of Prague are on the right.)

*Both are cut into two by a river: The Danube in Budapest and the Vltava in Prague.

*Both have prominent castles: Aptly, and respectively, named the Buda and Prague Castles.

*Both towns have beautiful cathedrals.

*Both are known for curative waters. Budapest is well known for its many public baths. We visited the The Széchenyi Spa in Budapest, the largest and most magnificent of them. For about $15 we spent the day going from outdoor baths, to saunas, to indoor baths, all of varying temperatures. It was quite the relaxing experience. Alternatively, just outside of Prague are the Carlsbad Mineral Springs, also known for the curative properties of its waters. Sadly, we did not make the trip.

*Both have famous bridges: In Budapest you have the Chain Bridge and in Prague the Charles Bridge.

*Both have lots of grafitti. Although the Lennon Wall in Prague is a sanctioned place for taggers, it is grafitti nonetheless. This picture in Budapest is also an impressive part of street art, although illegal.

*Both have a place for couples to lock up their love.

*Prague and Budapest were both former Communist towns which have since fully embraced capitalism.

*Both of the old cities have Jewish Quarters and, as such, were occupied by Nazi forces during the Second World War.

*Public transport is very well organized, and tourist friendly, in both cities, complete with buses, trams and metros.

*Tasty and hearty cuisine is not in short supply in either of the towns.

*Both towns are VERY touristy!

Despite all of the similarities, there were a FEW differences...

In Budapest...
*You can enjoy a VERY inexpensive cultural performance, thanks to government subsidies. We checked out Don Pascuale at the National Opera House. Our box seats, right next to the Presidential Box, ran about $9/piece. And, the cheap seats are about $2!
*There is a stunning National Parliament Building.

In Prague...
*You can check out the quirky Zodiac Clock, complete with hourly appearances by the 12 apostles.
*There is a TV tower with barcode babies scaling the sides.
*One can enjoy a glass of beer brewed at the monastery.
*You can visit a church adorned with HUMAN bones (a little ways outside of the city).
*Someone tried, unsuccessfully, to break into our hotel room! (The cops later broke the door down so we could make sure nothing was stolen.)

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