Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Romance of Budapest

The Szenchenyi Bridge

I’m so excited to be back at Lindsay’s Romantics. What I love about Lindsay and the blog is the power of romance it evokes and for me, one such special place is Budapest, Hungary.

Budapest? Yes! This city is a rare jewel in Central Europe and I’m glad to have gone there. My first and only visit was in late September 1997. And I fell completely in love with the city. So much so, I set my upcoming novel “The Hungarian” in Budapest.

Let me give you just a little background before going on. In 1997, I was stationed in Germany and Brigade had to fill a spot in Taszur, Hungary. The United States had gone into Bosnia as a peace keeping force. Before any forces moved in or out of Bosnia and Croatia, they had to stage or in/out process through Taszur, Hungary. I was deployed from July-October 1997 to Taszur as the “Physical Security NCO” of the deployment area. It was a big responsibility. Before I left, I was tasked to provide a physical security budget over two million dollars.

Me, receiving an award in front of a MIG.

Taszur housed a Soviet air base. When the Soviets left, the Hungarians invited the Americans to occupy it. It was a win-win scenario for both nations. Hungarians made money leasing the base to the Americans, and it provided the Americans with an air field big enough to land such planes as a DC-10, Boeing 747’s and C-131’s.

Taszur was near the Hungarian city of Kaposvar, about 1 hour south of Budapest. One weekend in late September, I had an opportunity to go on a moral trip to Budapest, which I took advantage of. The trip was through the USO and it was free. I stayed in a hotel on an island in the Danube river. There were site seeing trips and trips you could take on your own. I did a little of both, discovering the magic of Budapest.

The Parliament Building

Budapest is the capital of Hungary and it is a very modern European city. No other city in Hungary compares it. The Parliament building was finished in 1896 and is an architectural marvel. The Széchenyi Bridge was finished in the 1840s and was one of the first chain link suspension bridges ever built. Historically, the city is compromised of two smaller ones, Buda and Pest. Buda is on a hill overlooking the Danube and that’s where the castle district and Fisherman’s Bastion is. Pest is on the east side of the Danube, it’s rather flat and that’s there the Parliament building. Pest houses the major train station and more or the European hub of the city.

Fisherman's Bastion

What impressed me most was Fisherman’s Bastion. It is a terrace in neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style situated on the Buda bank of the Danube, on the Castle hill in Budapest, around Matthias Church. It was designed and built between 1895 and 1902. The view is amazing as it overlooks the Danube, evoking the historian in me.

The next thing that impressed me was the architectural brilliance of the Széchenyi Bridge. It spans the wide Danube, tall and proud. Amazing it was constructed in the 1840’s!

When I was developing my paranormal romance, The Hungarian, I knew Budapest was the city to provide the backdrop in which I wanted Matthias and Katherine to fall deeply in love in. It never falls asleep. Its heartbeat is strong and pulsing in with the times. The history that surrounds the city reminds one of the past, but never lingers. It’s close enough to Europe, but far away enough to make one believe in myths and legends of the old world. The romance of Budapest is never ending, much like love. It will always hold a special place in my heart.


Sandra Sookoo said...

Sounds like a cool place!

Keena Kincaid said...

Budapest looks lovely. It's been on my list of places to visit for years. I think it just got bumped higher.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Beautiful and interesting blog, Steph! I always look forward to your posts - you give me a real glimpse of the wider world.

Budapest looks amazing and I'm not surprised it inspired you - it is indeed a very special place.

Looking forward to hearing even more about 'The Hungarian'.

Kaye Manro said...

Wow, Steph! This is really a great post! I love the pics, and you do take us on wonderful trips!

Thanks for sharing this.

StephB said...

Hi everyone! I'd love to go back to Budapest to what it looks like now. I doubt much as changed, which is kinda nice. I would love to take my husband, should we ever get the chance. Glad you enjoyed the visit. hehe


Savanna Kougar said...

Steph, magnificent pictures. I adore that kind of architecture.
Thanks so much for sharing!
And it is perfect place for a couple to fall in love.

Cari Quinn said...

Steph, I couldn't believe the timeliness of your post for me. Over the weekend, the vampire story I'm writing decided to move to Budapest, without any plotting input from me. ;) I loved your looks like a truly gorgeous, historic town that I can't wait to find out more about. I may email you if I have questions, if that's okay. :)

Thanks for the post!

Mona Risk said...

Steph, you convinced me. Our next trip will be to Hungary. I wanted to go there but I didn't know it was so gorgeous. Thanks.

StephB said...

Mona, Yes, go to Budapest! Cari, please, email me. I'd love to gush about Budapest!

LK Hunsaker said...

Steph, from the photos, I have to agree with you about Fisherman's Bastion. Wow, that's gorgeous. They all are. I know your personal experience will come out incredibly in your novel.