When I was in high school one of the coolest places was the Hard Rock Café. If you went to an exotic locale it didn’t really count unless you went to a Hard Rock and bought a T-shirt. When travelling through Australia in high school the Hard Rock Café was not on the itinerary but our group demanded the bus stop so we could buy T-shirts. What pride I had wearing the Hard Rock Café – Sydney. It helps me to understand why Scarlet decided to spend some of her forints today by taking her parents out for a morning cup of coffee along a Budapest street at Starbucks. Brant, Elisabeth and Scarlett (our Starbuck cups’ names) loved it. If only they had T-shirts.
Although cloudy there was very little rain so we went out to see more sights. We toured Parliament (outside) and the surrounding streets stopping by anything Rick Steves deemed important. We viewed the heavily barricaded American Embassy and per, multiple signs, didn’t take pictures. We popped into Gresham Palace, now a Four Seasons, to rest and use their bathroom. Brody has announced when he grows up he is coming back to Budapest and this is where he will stay. We ended our Pest tour and walked across the Chain Bridge to Buda.
The Royal Palace at the top of Buda’s Castle Hill has a cute little cog-like lift to take tourists up which we admired as we hiked. We read more about Hungarian history and toured the buildings and terraces. The Palace is now houses museums but we did not go in any today. Our final stop took us to the St Matthias Church and the picturesque Fisherman’s Bastion.
The church just left me speechless. It is one of the most uniquely adorned on the planet. The norm of churches is gilded marble, intricately carved wood and ornate sculpture. The St Matthias decoration committee got together and said, “Not us, we are going to be different!” Oh what their brainstorming session must have been like. In the end the winning idea was- Stencil. They stenciled the heck out of the place. Every single surface is stenciled in bold patterns and colors. Everything. Stenciled. Window frames, all walls, columns – stencil, stencil, stencil.
The dare to be different attitude is also apparent in the roof; the palace has a green one, Parliament has a red one and St Istvan has a blue one. St Matthias decided not to choose just one color and went for the full rainbow. If someone said that Lisa Frank had started consulting with churches and this was her doing everything about the décor decisions would make sense.
The church museum showcased the recent restoration efforts. The cases included many before and after photos. There were paintings repaired, porcelain glued and silver re-soldered and shined. The artisans took much pride in their work. My historic restoration knowledge comes from Antiques Road Show. Any time an expert sees a piece of work that has been fixed or spruced up they clutch themselves and really let the owner have it, “This would be worth $50,000 at auction in original condition BUT you glued the arm back on and washed off the dirt, er, patina. Now it will bring $5 at your garage sale.” If Leigh Keno or his twin brother visited St Matthias, they would have a heart attack.