Almost three weeks ago, I visited two countries in one weekend – Hungary and Austria. I am very late in writing this blog post due to being caught up with midterms and afterwards, a ten day trip to Greece, but I decided that this particular weekend trip was still an amazing experience I should post about.
We left on a bus Thursday night with SmartTrip and were supposed to arrive at our hostel early Friday morning – but one of the students on the trip forgot his passport, and so we did not pass border control. The bus driver had no choice but to go back and take him to the nearest train station. Then, we went through border control again and a couple hours later, we finally made it to our first destination – Budapest, Hungary.
After dropping our belongings off at the hostel, we took a walking tour through Budapest. It was especially interesting to learn about how Hungary’s involvement in WWII.
First, we visited the German Occupation Memorial, which was built as the government’s way of dealing with the past – basically their way of saying that they weren’t responsible for the deaths of so many innocent people.
The memorial created a lot of controversy. To protest against the government and to take commemorate all the lives that were lost, the community came together to create a “living memorial” – personal belongings, photographs, candles, and more.
Next, we visited The Shoes on the Danube Bank , which was the most saddening but moving memorial I have ever visited. There are 60 pairs of rusted shoes – all of different shapes and sizes- lined up against the river to commemorate the Hungarian Jews who were lined up and shot by the river during the winter of 1944.
Although we visited many buildings, monuments, and even went to the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, this memorial was truly the one thing that stuck out to me the most when I think about my experience in Budapest.
After Vienna, we headed to our last stop of the weekend – Salzburg. Here, we toured the gardens where the Sound of Music was filmed, visited Mozart’s birthplace, and walked across the Love Lock Bridge.
By the end of the weekend, we were all pretty exhausted. We had spent a lot of hours on the bus after all, but the experience was 100% worth it.
In the lobby of our hostel in Vienna, there was a wall with various inspirational travel quotes. One of them really stuck with me.
“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It is lethal.”
Upon visiting a new place, it is common to have fears, doubts, and worries. As humans, we fear the unexpected. But I am beginning to embrace the unexpected and treasure it for all the places it has taken me and memories it has given me.