Monday, June 30, 2014

Budapest - Heroe's Square (Hosok Tere)

Date: 11th April 2014

Due to the main purpose of the Europe trip was a "Train Rides", we used mainly metro railways line whenever available in any cities that we visited to go 1 place and another. It was a good thing as we learned so much the development of the railways in Europe. Hosok Tere is 1 of the station that we are so impressed of being incorporated into the Budapest Metro. The Metro (see 2 photos, below) is the rapid transit system in the capital city. It is the oldest electrified underground railway system on the European continent and the 2nd oldest in the work, predated only by the 1890 City & South London Railway. Budapest Metro iconic Line 1 that we took to reach Heroe's Square was completed in 1896, was declared a World Heritage Site in 2002.

The first metro line (Line 1 of present days) was conceived as a means of carrying passengers from the city centre on the city park without the need for surface transport on Andrassy Avenue. The "Diet of Hungary" (legislative body of the Hungarian Kingdom approved the metro project proposal in 1870. The construction began in 1894 by the German firm, "Siemens & Halske AG" employing 2000 workers using state of the art machinery. The line was built entirely from the using surface using the cut and cover method. The same method was used by my team during the construction of the Ingres and Egress sections of the SMART Tunnel project in Kuala Lumpur in early 2000.

Museum of Fine Art seat next to the Heroe's Square

Heroe's tere is 1 of the major squares in Budapest, noted for its statue complex where the 7 chieftains of the Maygars and other important national leader and tomb of the unknown soldiers are located. The large square lies at the outbound of the end of Andrassy Avenue next to city park. The square is also where the Museum of Fine Arts and Kunsthalle Budapest (Palace of Art) built in 1895 in a very unique layout. The square has played an important part in contemporary Hungarian history and has been a host to many political events, such as the reburial of Imre Nagy (Hungarian Communist politician) in 1998.

Palace of Arts
The square is surrounded by 2 important buildings, Museum of Fine Arts on the left and Palace of Art on it's right. It faces Andrassy Avenue which has 2 buildings looking at the square including the Embassy of Serbia. 

The central feature of Heroe's square is the Millennium Memorial which construction commenced in 1896 to commemorate the 1000 years anniversary of the Hungarian foundation state by St. Stephen 1 in 896. It was part of a much larger project inclusive of the expansion and refurbishment of Andrassy Avenue as well as the Line 1 metro as mentioned above. It was completed in 1900.

When the monument was originally constructed, Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and thus the last 5 spaces of statues on the left of the colonnade were reserved for members of the ruling Habsburg dynasty. From left to right these were Ferdinand 1, Leopold 1, Charles III, Maria Theresa and Franz Joseph. The monument was damaged in World War II where the 5 figures were replaced with the present figures when it was rebuilt.

It was a bless that we were able to wander on the huge square on our own without many visitors as it was very early. Though the city park seated just across, we decided to save our energy for few more days of exploration. Nevertheless, it was a good visit supported with a good weather and a blue sky. It was more than we could ask for to end our tour in Budapest.

Source of reference: Wikipedia

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Budapest - Vaci Utca, a shopping street

Date of shopping: 10th April 2014

Immediately after the boat cruise, I had some kind of "toilet urgency" situation where I told the ladies to just follow my run whilst at the same time help me to locate for 1. Not knowing where I was heading to, I saw a Hard Rock cafe from a distance and seek a permission to use their "CLEAN" toilet. It was a very nice 3 or 4 levels (including lower ground) building that Hard Rock cafe cum merchandise outlet is occupying. The cafe was quite crowded with dine-in as it was a dinner time. 

Vaci Street at night

After I've done and the thing gets very clear to see, I've just realized that we were indeed at the Vaci utca or Vaci street, where the place was intended in our itinerary list. Vaci utca is one of the main pedestrian thoroughfares and perhaps the most famous street of central Budapest. In fact it is located not far from K9 residence, within a walking distance.

Opposite a Hard Rock Cafe/Boutique is a big H&M Store

Since Vaci stretches parallel with the Danube river (no wonder I able to reach the place easily from the boat cruise station), you may reach the river should you want to go for your cruise using the small side street. At Vorosmarty Square, there's the M1 underground (yellow line) station, but the street is not far from  Deakter (M1,M2,M3 metros). The tram 2 line along the Danube is also a good way of getting there. Infact both M1 yellow line and the tram seated just a few steps from K9 residence, the apartment that we stayed in.

ZARA boutique building. Advice to Malaysian, please shop ZARA back home as it is much cheaper in Kuala Lumpur

The steet features a large number of restaurants and shops catering primarily to the tourist market, a right place for people like us to visit. The "Lonely Planet" quote the street as "it's tourist central, but the line of cafes and shops are worth seeing, at least once".  Vaci utca is of the main shopping streets in Budapest, being famous among it's local folk art product too. Some of the retailers located in here are, Zara, H&M, Mango, Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Nike, Apple shops and many others.

For those who saw the sign, just take an escalator down and get all local souvenirs item in here. Worth for money!

In the medieval era, the boundary of the city stretched there in the present day vaci utca, along the Deak Ferenc utca was the city wall. The predecessor of the established street lead the Vaci gate which stood today on Vorosmarty Square. The remains of the gate can be seen at the beginning of the street, a few steps from the square (we did not know about this, hence, we pay no attention to it). The street became a main thoroughfare of Pest in the 18th century. Many beautiful mansions still stood proud and grandeur till now.

Until the 1880's, the main promenade of Pest (Korzo) was the walkway lining the Danube between Eotvos Square and Vigado's square. Turning into the 19th to 20th centuries, Vaci utca took over the role of the shopping street from Kiraly utca as well as the role from the Korzo of the Danume embankment. Most of the protected buildings date from this period.

We went there again the next day for coffee and last minute shopping before heading to Budapest Keleti station for our train to Vienna. It was a great day for shopping there after all 4 of us agreed/voted not to explore the Parliament House. If we opt to stay for 3 days 2 night, it would be an ample time for us to cover both Parliament House as well as Citadel. Perhaps next time, if we can come back, we might....

Friday, June 27, 2014

Budapest - Boat Cruise along Danube River

Date of cruise: 10th April 2014

Buda Castle and the Chain Bridge in the evening viewed from Danube river

Firstly, we tried to book an evening cruise from 1 of the tourist centre after a coffee break. So unfortunate that they did not have anything left for us. Hence, we decided to stroll along the Danube river and just grab what ever comes first, i.e. on instant departure. After sometimes, we saw a group of tourist walking in a large line heading towards the same direction. We tagged along in silence, the 4 of us. It was a lucky guessed as we managed to follow them taking the next boat scheduled to depart for a 2 hours tour at nominal fee.

The boat cruise that we took that late afternoon/evening

The skewed bridge half seated on Margaret Island in the photo

According to the locals, there's more than 1 way to admire the beauty of the Danube river which offer the magnificent scenic divider and connector between Buda and Pest since ancient time. Like us, we embark on a relaxing late afternoon towards sunset for sightseeing cruise. The cruise includes a stroll through Margaret Island. Another choice is add a romantic touch with an evening cruise that's accompanied by dinner and dancing beneath the stars like the way Anne and I enjoyed our last night in Bangkok.

The clouds, the blue sky, the danube river with the grandeur Parliament Building
The pro (me) ready for action :)

Several companies in Budapest offer these sightseeing cruises, and most of them comes with a head set guided in multiple languages. We found the head set guided was very informative that keeps our focus to both sides of Buda and Pest intact. There are many options to choose from, either you go for 1 hour sightseeing cruises cover all the attractions located on the banks of the Danube, 2 hours with optional walk on Margaret Island, evening cruises with buffet-type dinner, an evening cruises with music and dance etc.

Some of the lovely bridges that I adored snapped by me during the cruise below:-

Buda Castle and Tower Bridge are just ahead
Like the old Hungarian gentleman's advice to me earlier in the morning, taking an evening sightseeing cruise is worth what it takes. It simply because the Danube River scenic beauty offers the best way to experience Budapest  and take in the magnificent views of the city, especially in the evening when the city is being illuminated. In the meantime, I'm sharing few photos snapped by anne during the cruise using her Nikon:-

The citadel using her maximum zoom capacity from the boat

Beautiful Parliament house

The Chain bridge

More importantly, you were there to witness the Danube river that both divides and connects Buda and Pest which has always played an important role in the city's history, the unification of Hungary. Do give it a try, a boat cruise along the Danube river is definitely a must do list when 1 is in Budapest. Don't you agree?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Prayer in time of difficulties

I had a viral fever from Saturday but slightly gain strength to attend work on Tuesday. It was a 4 days sick in total. On Sunday, after much deliberated effort, I went to see a doctor which prescribed me with an antibiotics and a medical leave that excused me from work on Monday.  After a meeting on Tuesday, I headed home and Alhamdulillah ables to perform house chores.

Yesterday, during TITAS revision class in University Malaya's law faculty, I was confessing to Zaharah that sadly, reassessing those 4 days conclude me  that heaven would not be mine. During a times of difficulties, I failed to proof my love and loyalty to Allah. I only performed a 5 times obligatory prayer without my routines of un-obligatory ones though I have been disciplines myself diligently to prolong my prayer with additional un-obligatory prayers, zikr and dua's to regain Allah's confidence in my attempt to seek forgiveness over my sins. I did not even recited zikr, the least that I could do while lying in bed feeling sorry and pitied. 

Zaharah comforted me that everybody else also the same. But I have been given a second chance, no no, many chances thus far by Allah to cleanse my sin, yet, I was so ungrately and calculative with less energy left to recite zikr. My mental state at the time of sickness was too low to resist temptation from shaitan... MashaAllah, please forgive me once more Ya Allah.

This morning, during my Duha prayer, I took a phamplet and read the Duha dua's after zikr. 

فِي قَوْلِكَ وَأمَّا بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ فَحَدِّثْ ، اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أسْألُكَ بِسُورَةِ الضُّحَى وَبِبَابِ الضُّحَى الَّذِي لاَ يَدْخُلُهُ إِلاَّ الْمُصَلُّونَ لِلضُّحَى ، أنْ تَمُنَّ عَلَيَّ بِيَقَظَةِ الفُؤَادِ لأِكُونَ مِمَّنْ صَحَا ، وَفِي وُجُودِ حَبِيبِهِ وُجُودُهُ انْمَحَى ،

wa kun fissirri muhādithī, falā ’ashhada siwāka min muhaddith, wa ’akūna mimman ’imtathla ’amraka fī qawlika wa ’ammā bini‘mati rabbika fahaddith, ’allāhumma ’innī ’as’aluka bisūrati ’adduhā wa bibābi ’adduhā ’alladhī lā yadkhuluhu ’illā ’almusallūna lidduhā, ’an tamunna ‘alayya biyaqazati ’alfu’ādi li’akūna mimman sahā, wa fī wujūdi habībihi wujūduhu ’inmahā,
Talk to me in secret (in my heart) so I can see (witness) not any one but You the only speaker to me. Make me from those who accepted your instruction in your statement: “But the bounty of Thy lord rehearse and proclaim”. O Allah I call on You by sūrat ’Ad-Duhā (The glorious morning light) and gate of ’Ad-Duhā that will not be intered by any one except those who prays ’Ad-Duhā prayer. And grace me by heart awakeness, so I can be from those awakened. And erased their existance, in the presence of their lover existance,

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّى أتَشَفَّعُ عِنْدَكَ بِمَنْ سَنَّ الضُّحَى وَصَلاَّهَا ، وَبِالشَّمْسِ وَضُحَاهَا ، وَالقَمَرِ إِذَا تَلاَهَا وَالنَّهَارِ إِذَا جَلاَّهَا ، وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا يَغْشَاهَا ، أنْ تَرْفَعَ عَنْ عَيْنِ القَلْبِ غِطَاهَا وَغِشَاهَا ، لِتَشْهَدَ الأَشْيَاءَ عَلَى مَا هِيَ عَلَيْهِ عِيَاناً ، وَتُدْرِكَ ذَلِكَ كَشْفاً وَإِيقَاناً يَا الله ، يَا الله ، يَا الله ،
’allāhumma ’innī ’atashaffa‘u ‘indaka biman sanna ’adduhā wa sallāhā, wa bishshamsi wa duhāhā, walqamari ’idhā talāhā, wannahāri ’idhā jallāhā, wallayli ’idhā yaghshāhā, ’an tarfa‘a ‘an ‘ayni ’alqalbi
ghitāhā wa ghishāhā, litashhada ’al’ashyā’a ‘alā mā hiya ‘alayhi ‘iyānā, wa tudrika dhālika kashfan wa ’īqānan yā ’Allāh, yā ’Allāh, yā ’Allāh,

O Allah I interceed to You by the one who initiated ’Ad-Duhā prayer, and practised it. By the sun and its (glorious) splendor. By the moon as it follows (the sun). By the day as it shows up (the sun's glory). By the night as it conceals it. I call on You by all these, so as to remove the cover from the eye of the heart. So it can see things clearly and (as they are in their real forms). And understand all that, by true 
faith and by witnessing. O Allah, O Allah, O Allah.
وَصَلَّى اللهُ عَلَى سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ الْمُنْزَلِ عَلَيْهِ فَأوْحَى إِلَى عَبْدِهِ مَا أوْحَى ، وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ مَا صَلَّى مُصَلٍّ صَلاَةَ الضُّحَى ، وَعَلى التَّابِعِينَ وَتَابِعِيهِمْ بِإِحْسَانٍ إِلَى يَوْمِ الدِّينِ وَالْحَمْدُ للهِ رَبِّ العَالَمِينَ .
wa sallā ’Allāhu ‘alā sayyidinā Muhammadin ’almunzali ‘alayhi fa’awhā ’ilā ‘abdihi mā ’awhā, wa ‘alā ’ālihi wa sahbihi mā sallā musallin salāt ’adduhā, wa ‘alā ’attābi‘īna wa tābi‘īhim bi’ihsānin ’ilā yawmi ’addīn walhamdu lillāhi rabbi ’al‘ālamīn.

Allah prayers be upon sayyidinā Muhammad to whom came the revelation: “so did (Allah) convey the inspiration to his servant (convyed) what he (meant) to convey”. His family and companions, as long as any worshipper prayed ’Ad-Duhā prayer. Also Allah prayers upon the followers and those follow them by doing good, till the day of religion. And praise be to Allah the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds.

Allow me Ya Allah to regain your confidence once more, so that I would at least deserve your unconditional love. I would do my best, yes I will, to devote myself only to you "WITHOUT CONDITION".

Peace and love....

Monday, June 23, 2014

Budapest - Szechenyi Chain Bridge

Date of visit: 10th April 2014

The blue sky replacing the grey clouds when we were about to finish our sightseeing in Buda Castle. Anne managed to capture the beautiful sight of Szechenyi Chain Bridge from the terrace of the Hungarian National Gallery that look so stunning with a blue sky as a backdrop in below photo. Thereafter, we went back to the place where the bus dropped us earlier. Assuming that any buses from the point we stopped shall take us back to the Pest, we simply took the next bus that was available there. The bus took us to a different stop but we were lucky as a lovely young Hungarian lady was kind enough to show us the metro line which will take us to directly to the Chain Bridge. 

Szechenyi Chain Bridge is a suspension bridge that spans the River Danube between Buda and Pest, the western and eastern sides of Budapest. It was designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark as the first permanent bridge across the Danube river in Hungary, and was opened in 1849. The bridge is anchored on the Pest side of the river to Szechenyi Square, adjacent to the Gresham Palace and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and on to the Buda side to Adam Clark Square, near the Zero Kilometer Stone and the lower end of the Castle Hill Funicular, leading to Buda Castle.

The bridge has the name of Istvan Szechenyi, being a major supporter of its construction, attached to it, but is most commonly known as the Chain Bridge. At the time of its construction, it was regarded as one of the modern world's engineering wonders. It has asserted an enormous significance of the Hungary's economic, social and cultural life. Its decorations made of cast iron, and its construction, radiating calm dignity and balance, have elevated the Chain Bridge to a high stature in Europe beside the Tower Bridge in London. It became a symbol of advancement, national awakening, and the linkage between East and West.

The English bridge engineer William Tierney Clark designed it in 1839, after Count Istvan Szechenyi's initiative the bridge conception idea in the same year, with construction supervised locally by Scottish engineer Adam Clark. It is a larger scale version of William Tierney Clark's earlier Marlow Bridge, across the River Thames in Marlow, England.

It was funded to a considerable extent by the Greek merchant Georgios Sinas who had considerable financial and land interests in the city and whose name is inscribed on the base of the south western foundation of the bridge on the Buda side.

The bridge was opened in 1849, and thus became the first permanent bridge in the Hungarian capital, after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. At that time, its center span of 202 metres was one of the largest in the world. The lions at each of the abutments were carved in stone by the sculptor, Janos Marschalko. They are visibly similar in design to the famous bronze lions of Trafalgar Square by Edwin Henry Landseer with Marochetti, but they were earlier as it was installed in 1852. Beside, they are also in a smaller size. The bridge was given its current name in 1898.

William Tierney Clark designed them in sections and shipped from the United Kingdom to Hungary for final construction. The bridge's cast iron structure was updated and strengthened in 1914. In World War II, the bridge was severely damaged during Siege of Budapest, and was rebuilt and reopened 1949.

A plaque on the Pest side of the river reads "To commemorate the only two surviving bridges designed by William Tierney Clark: The Szechenyi Chain Bridge over the Danube at Budapest and the suspension bridge over the Thames at Marlow, England". Most importantly for us, being able to walk from Buda to Pest using the Chain Bridge was indeed an amazing experience after admiring the bridge photos shared by others in the internet. It makes our journey worth even more.

Source: Wikipedia

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Budapest - Buda Castle

Date of visit: 10th April 2014

Buda Castle is the historical castle and palace complex of the Hungarian kings in Budapest. It was first completed in 1265, been originally named as Royal Palace and/or Royal Castle. Buda Castle was built on the southern tip of Castle Hill, bounded on the north by what is known as the Castle District, which is famous for its Medieval, Baroque, and 19th-century houses, churches, and public buildings. It is linked to Clark Adam Square and the Szechenyi Chain Bridge by the Castle Hill Funicular.

Buda Castle is the result of many palaces built and destroyed over the centuries, after numerous invasions and attacks on the Hungarian nation. It was built by King Bela IV in the 13th century, enlarged in a Gothic style by King Zsigmond of Luxemburg and expanded upon with a Renaissance flair by King Matyas (1443-1490). It was then reduced to debris when Buda was liberated from the Turks by the Christian forces in 1686.

Terrace in front of National Gallery with Nova Resfita, a cheerful Indonesian girl!

Later, a new smaller palace was built by the Hapsburgs in the Baroque style (1715-1748), but this was burned down during the War of Independence (1849). Soon afterward, it was reconstructed (1850) and greatly enlarged on a neo-Baroque style by Alajos Hauszmann (1875-1912). During World War II, the Palace was made the German army’s centre of operations but, unluckily, it was bombarded by the Russians. The subsequent reconstruction has retained Gothic and Baroque elements, as well as medieval sections discovered during reconstruction. 

Turul, the mythical bird stand proudly guarding the palace

There are two main entrances to Buda Castle. One is just few metres to the left of the upper station of the funicular railway. You can’t miss the ornamental gate, adorned with the impressive Turul that looks as if it’s guarding the Palace. The Turul is a mythical bird that resembles an eagle. It is the symbol of the Hungarian Nation. If you are coming southwards from the Old Town, you will easily find the other entrance to the castle, the Corvinus Gate, which you’ll see straight ahead from Disz Ter on Szent Gyorgy utca or Színhaz utca. On the right hand side, you’ll see the excavations of the remnants of Old Castles built in the Middles Ages, that are still taking place and on the left, you’ll see the Castle Theatre and the Sandor Palace. At the end of the flagpole-lined promenade, you’ll find a web-like black gate. On top of the gate, there is a raven with a ring in its beak (the raven was the symbol of King Matthias). This way leads you to King Matthias Fountain and then to the Lion Courtyard. I'm sharing almost all photos of the buildings as mentioned, so, it will be easier for you to spot them on. The castle is a part of the Budapest World Heritage Site, which was declared a Heritage Site in 1987. At present, the castle has been converted and use for the following functions and purposes:-

The Hungarian National Gallery: It is the gallery that have largest public collection, documenting and presenting the rise and development of the fine arts in Hungary. It contains an enormous collection that includes approximately 6,000 paintings, 2,100 sculptures, 3,100 medals, 11,000 drawings and 5,000 prints. The Hungarian National Gallery was opened in 1957 in the building that today houses the Museum of Ethnography. It open from Tuesday to Sundays 10:00 am- 6:00 pm, close on Monday.
The Hungarian National Gallery
Fishing Children by Karoly Senyey
The Budapest History Museum: The museum displays fascinating permanent exhibits of Budapest history from early tribal settlements to modern urban life. There are several collections of items of Roman and Medieval-era pieces such as weapons, jewellery, pottery and day-to-day life objects. The basement of the Museum contains restored Gothic-Renaissance rooms of the mostly destroyed Medieval building. The archaic walls, the Gothic room and the Royal Chapel, built by Nagy Lajos (Louis the Great) in the 1360’s, recreate the atmosphere of the Old Buda Castle. For those who wishes to know about in the exciting and turbulent history of Budapest can visit the Castle Museum seated at the southern part of the Lion Courtyard.

The Budapest History Museum
Matthias fountain before an entrance to the History Museum

National Szechenyi Library: The library is the National Library of Hungary, founded in 1802 by Count Ferenc Szechenyi and features temporary exhibits of exceptional books and historic documents. It currently contains 10 million items, among which is the first book ever printed in Hungary (Chronica Hungarorum, published in 1473) as well as an ancient texts belonging to King Matthias. From the time of its creation, the library’s task has been to collect all works published in Hungary, in Hungarian or foreign languages, all works written abroad by Hungarians, non Hungarians or with the collaboration of Hungarians and all works published abroad in foreign languages related to Hungary. The entrance to the library is in the Lion Courtyard.  

National Library of Hungary

Castle Theatre: The Castle Theatre is the only 18th century theatre building in Hungary which still functions as a theatre. This former Carmelite church was converted into a theatre in 1784, during the reign of Emperor Joseph II. The first play performed in the theatre was the "Monk of the Carmel Hill" on October 17, 1787. In the beginning, all of the plays were performed in German and it was not until 1790 that the first play in Hungarian took place. Today, the Castle Theatre is well known as the National Dance Theatre, where a great variety of dance genres are featured. There is a small gallery dedicated to outstanding Hungarian painters. The theatre is located on Szinhaz utca 1-3, next to Sandor Palace.

Castle Theater in yellow building

Alexander Palace (Sandor Palota): This Classicist style palace, designed by Mihaly Pollac, was built at the beginning of the 19th century. It was almost totally demolished during World War II. The Palace was renovated at the beginning of this decade and once served as the residence of the Prime Minister, but now houses the Presidential Offices. Once a year, in the third week of September, the Palace is open to the public as part of the National Cultural Heritage Days program. The Sandor Palace is located at Szent Gyorgy ter 1, right next to the cogwheel station (Siklo) and in front of the Buda Castle main entrance. 

Alexander Palace

Buda Castle main entrance, with Turul & it's grandeur gate

Source of reference: Wikipedia and other Budapest local tourist website.