When I woke up at 6AM this morning, I thought I was bound for Hollókő, a famously well-preserved village and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unfortunately my friend Jolan and I ended up at the wrong bus station with only thirty minutes to spare. Not interested in sprinting across town, we decided on a new destination. Although we considered Vienna (I went there in 2012), we settled for Gödöllő, a town northeast of Budapest. It is easily accessible from Budapest – get to Örs vezér tere (end of M2 – Red) and take HÉV 8 to Gödöllő (get off at Szabadság tér). If you have a Budapest transportation pass, it should only cost you 740Ft/$3.17 round-trip.
Gödöllő has around 35,000 residents and is home to the Palace of Gödöllő. This palace is one of the largest Baroque palaces in Hungary – I visited another, the Festitics Palace, last month. The construction of this palace began in the 18th century and became one of the favorite retreats of Elisabeth (“Sisi”), Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary. Her husband was one of the last Hapsburg monarchs, Franz Joseph I. The life of these monarchs completely fascinates me. I learned about them in my AP European History class in high school and reread about them for fun about three months ago.
In short: Franz Joseph I and Elisabeth had a son, Rudolf. Rudolf married Stephanie of Belgium, but had an affair with Baroness Marie Vetsera. Rudolf and Marie made a suicide pact and completed it in 1889. The next heir to the thrown was Franz’s younger brother, Archduke Karl Ludwig. Elisabeth was murdered by Luigi Lucheni, an Italian anarchist. Karl renounced his succession, which made his son, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. Franz Ferdinand’s assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 sparked the start of World War I. BOOM. HISTORY.
Student tickets cost 1.100Ft ($4.71) and adult tickets cost 2.200Ft ($9.42). You can probably guess what amount I paid. Jolan and I walked around the garden/forest (cultivation eventually just stops) and eventually made our way into the palace. Hoards of tour groups were filling the premises and one lady in particular threw some serious shade my way when I crept past her group in the middle of her speech. Lo siento, mi amiga.
The palace was lovely (sorry that I didn’t take many pictures – not really allowed). Opulent décor filled every corner in the shape of chandeliers, tapestries, grand pianos, and so much more. Seeing the massive paintings of the Elisabeth reminded me of my lifelong dream – to have a huge painting of myself done (I can settle for a bust/full size sculpture). As vain as this may seem, my sole purpose of this painting is to haunt my future decedents. Since most people suffer from obligation, my future magnificent painting has to survive at least 200 years. That is 200 years of guaranteed blank staring at anyone lucky enough to be in the same room. It’s brilliant. If you are a skilled oil painter (I want this to be old school) and want to do some work for free, contact me.
Jolan and I then went to the city center, ate some sandwiches, talked about art (if you think I am a good artist, you haven’t seen anything yet… wait, Jolan paint me!), and rested our tired bones. Asian markets littered the area, so we couldn’t resist – Hong Kong Áruház was our last stop in the town. We ended up finding the most adorable, KAWAII panties in the world. That’s right. I went to a great, historical town and bought underwear from an Asian store.
Last but not least, I have some news. The first of which is that my computer (my princess) is officially dead. I took her to a computer service shop and she was pronounced dead on the spot. I have to get a new laptop on a Hungarian teacher’s salary – a laptop is more than I make a month. I wasn’t surprised because Murphy’s Law reigns supreme in my life. I need to learn how to poop out golden eggs because I have no other option. To end on a high note, I AM GOING TO SZIGET FESTIVAL. I won’t be attending all seven days because who the hell has €249/$333/77.920Ft to spare? My friend Emily and I will be going to see The Kooks, Outkast, and Calvin Harris. I am so stoked. I haven’t left Hungary this whole summer due a slew of unfortunate events that I am still dealing with, but this is going to be awesome.
Oh, and some more art:
A Lesson From Miss Jennifer: Actually research your trip.