Wednesday, August 28, 2013

St. Matthias Church, Opera House and a Concert

Woke up after nine straight hours of sleep to a rain storm.   Lightning and thunder very close and loud!  It was a perfect morning to do some bookkeeping after we finished breakfast from the food that we’d purchased last night at the grocery store.

About 10:30 am we headed out in light sprinkles for a four block walk to the Metro Station.  It’d stopped raining by the time we arrived and the sun came out and we had a beautiful day in Budapest!  We arrived early at our planned meeting spot so took a walk around the area.  We saw a large church and walked that way; discovered it was St. Stephen’s Basilica where we wanted to attend a concert tomorrow night.  Sure enough we found the ticket sellers and got a good price for purchasing the tickets a day early!
Headed back towards our meeting place near the Deak Ferenc Ter Metro Station and easily found our friend Las and his girlfriend Zsoka. 

 After introductions we started walking towards the church where Zsoka is in the choir.  They were having an organ concert there at noon today.  We arrived at Saint Anna’s Church early and were invited to visit the organ loft and see the organist warming up for the concert.
Today was one surprise after another as our friends arranged for all sorts of special activities that the average tourist would never have an opportunity to enjoy.   Soon the music began and we were very impressed with the both the selection of music and the talents of the organist.  We started and ended with J.S. Bach; it was a wonderful hour of classical music in a beautiful church.

It was about 1:30 pm when we boarded the tram and then a bus to go over the Chain Bridge to Buda; the part of Budapest that is on the hill. There we went to St. Matthias Church which is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.  The interior has changed over the centuries as it began as a Catholic Church, for several hundred years it was a Mosque and is again today a Catholic Church.  Las and Zsoka had arranged for a private tour; our guide was Maria and she was a fountain of knowledge on the history of the building and its museum pieces.  We saw the copy of the Crown that is used for all occasions as the actual crown is never let out of the National Treasury. 
During WW II; the Americans took possession of the Crown and it resided in Fort Knox for many years until it was finally returned to Hungary.  There is a law here that the land belongs to the Crown…not the King. 
The trip up the bell tower was very special as they are restoring it right now.  We had to climb over wires and other equipment on our trip up; I’m sure there were many people wondering how these people were allowed to climb the tower; Las must have the magic touch to convince them that we were important guests from America!   But seeing the bells up close and then the view from the top was spectacular and well worth the effort to make the climb.
By four o’clock we’d passed back over the bridge into Pest and arrived at the Opera House.  Zoska has a niece and nephew that both work for the Opera House and her niece Christina was waiting to give us a private tour.   We entered into a building across the street, went to the basement and walked under the street up into the back area of the Opera House.  There we were allowed to view the stage with all of the workings that move the scenery up and down; the dressing rooms and the private resting area for the actors and actresses. 

Then we moved out into the formal area and enjoyed the opulent interior of the opera house.  Very much like the one we visited last year in Paris. What a thrill to visit another magnificent music hall such as this.  At the end we sat for a cool drink in the “green room” one might say.
Outside we said our goodbyes to Christina who had other plans and then caught the tram to the Metro and then a bus for the ride to the suburbs to where Las grew up as a child.  There we had a wonderful and delicious Hungarian dinner while enjoying visiting with each other at a restaurant that he visited as a child and then still go to   Soon it was getting dark so they took us back to the Metro Station and pointed us in the right direction.  An easy switch from the Red to the Blue line half way and soon we were home.
It was nearly 9 pm by the time we reached the hotel.  A very different and wonderful day made possible by our friends Las and Zsoka.   Tomorrow we are exploring the city on our own with the help of the Hop On and Off Bus.
Hope you enjoy the slideshow link below:

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