August 15, 2019 – Holy Ground (OOTD #548)

Thursday was my tourist day in Jerusalem.

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What, you thought I was going to go all the way to the Holy City without seeing the major tourist sites — the Western Wall, the Al-Aqsa mosque, and of course, the University of Alabama gift shop?

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The place I stayed at, Abraham Hostels, also offered tours, and as a guest, I got a slight discount. I considered trying to visit some of the “holy sites” by myself, but after a few days in Israel-Palestine on own, I realized that it would be best to just go with a tour guide.

Could I have probably done the research and learned how to visit some of the “holiest” and most contested locations in the world? Sure — and lots of visitors do it perfectly safely every day. But after spending half of the week stressing out over how to travel from Israel to Palestine when it’s illegal for even locals to so (spoiler alert: I figured it out), I decided I wanted a break. Maybe I had been spoiled after my cruise in the Galápagos Islands, but it sure is nice to have someone take care of all of your travel arrangements for you.

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On my designated “tourist day,” I saw the Western Wall, the Al-Aqsa Mosque (and the Dome of the Rock), the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (for the second time), the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Flagellation, and Jesus’s supposed handprint. Oh, and a Bama gift shop. That may have been my favorite.

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I’m just teasing —  I think my favorite may have actually been the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, just for the sheer beauty of the structure. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve seen a lot (seriously, so many) of places of worship in my travels.

This was actually one of the very first days that non-Muslim visitors were allowed to enter the premises of the Al-Aqsa Mosque for quite some time. During the whole month of Ramadan, it was closed, and it was closed again at the very beginning of my visit to Jerusalem for Eid ul-Adha.

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Because I was with a tour group, our time in the area was limited (only about 15 minutes, as we arrived just before it closed for mid-day prayer), but I had enough time to get some of my favorite photos from any travel experience ever. My photographer was a woman named Demi, whom I became friends with over the course of the tour. Honestly, I wish we’d met sooner — she made for a great photographer (and a nice companion, seeing as I’d spend pretty much all of the rest of my time in Israel-Palestine completely alone).

I always wonder what becomes of the people I meet briefly in random places when I travel around — I’ll likely never get to see them again, and even if I follow them on social media, we don’t exactly quality as “friends,” just acquaintances. What’s going on with Axel from France or Haya from Nepal or Bilal from Hungary or Nina from Croatia?

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I think the only way for me to get to see all of these people in once place again is either to get married or die — weddings and funerals, as they say. Honestly, one of those two options seems like the easier route to me, but I don’t know if I’m quite ready for it yet. Besides, I want to be still alive when all of my friends gather.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Israel-Palestine this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Skirt: Street vendor in New York

Sweater: Target

Camisole: H&M

Hat: Thrifted (a consignment shop in Jerusalem)

August 14, 2019 – How to Take Public Transport from Jerusalem to Bethlehem: A Traveler’s Guide (OOTD #547)

After a brief intermission featuring the World Holocaust Museum, it was back to research on the West Bank border graffiti.

After devoting my first full day in Israel-Palestine to taking a comprehensive tour with a Palestinian guide, all I had left in mind to do with the remainder of my time was go back on my own and have a closer look at the artwork. Easy, right?

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More like easier said than done. It shouldn’t have been as surprising to me as it was, but it’s rather difficult to travel between Israel and Palestine. It must have something to do with how the two regions don’t get along with each other (and haven’t for years), and how Palestinians are prevented by law from entering Israel and Israelis are prevented by law from entering Palestine. Just a wild guess.

As a foreigner, you are free to visit both — in fact, you’re even free to visit the Gaza Strip, though you probably shouldn’t unless you’re a specialized humanitarian aid worker. But just because you are free to visit the areas, doesn’t mean it’s a stress-free experience. In fact, for me, it actually was rather stressful because for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how best to get from Jerusalem (on the Israel side) to Bethlehem (on the Palestine side) via public transport.

This guide ended up being rather useful for me, but as it turns out, it was a little over a year old and difficult to follow at points. I’ve decided to compile my own little guide below:

How to take public transport from Jerusalem to Bethlehem: A Traveler’s Guide (2019) 

Congratulations! You’ve decided to take some time out of your trip to Jerusalem to visit its neighboring city, Bethlehem. Lots of solo travelers visiting Israel miss out on visiting Palestine because of how difficult it is to get there without a tour guide to help you. Good on you for deciding to broaden your horizons and check out a part of Israel-Palestine that many don’t want you to see.

Though the two cities are right next to each other, they’re divided along political boundaries (and with a physical barrier called the West Bank border) that make taking public transport between them rather complicated. Whether you’re going to see the Banksy hotel or the Church of the Nativity, you can use this guide to get from Jerusalem city center to Bethlehem.

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Note: when traveling between Israel and Palestine, always remember to carry your passport with you! You will need it to cross any checkpoints. Additionally, you never know when you’re going to be stopped by a police officer or soldier and asked to show your papers. The reality is that they use a lot of racial profiling to determine who to stop, so if you look definitively “foreign,” you may be less likely to be suspected of being a Palestinian trying to sneak into Israel (or vice versa), but it’s best to be safe! 

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  • From Jerusalem Old City, you’re going to want to head to Damascus Gate, the gate opposite Jaffa Gate, a common meeting point for tour groups. Just across the street from Damascus Gate, you’ll find the bus station for the Palestinian bus company, South Bus Company. South Bus Company is the only one that offers transport from Jerusalem into Bethlehem; the Jerusalem bus company, Egged, will get you near the border, but it cannot take you into Bethlehem. You can tell South Bus Company buses apart from Egged buses because South Bus Company buses are blue and white while Egged buses are green.
  • South Bus Company runs three routes from Damascus Gate:
    1. The 234, “Checkpoint 300” (formerly the 24) — this bus travels from Damascus Gate to Checkpoint 300 (sometimes also known as the Rachel’s Tomb crossing). It does not technically go into Bethlehem. The bus will drop you off outside of the Checkpoint 300 terminal, at which you will have to cross the border on your own. This is what I did, as the 231 was not running the day I tried to visit. It’s a little scary at first, but with your foreign passport, the soldiers will hopefully not give you a hard time. They’re less concerned about people trying to get in to Palestine as they’re concerned about people trying to get out.
      • This is a good route to take if you’re only interested in seeing the West Bank border graffiti or the Banksy Hotel. They are within a 10 minute walk of the Checkpoint 300 exit. Use Google Maps to navigate you to the Banksy Hotel, and from there, you should be very easily able to follow the perimeter of the wall to see the art.
      •  Checkpoint 300 can be very busy depending on what time of day you visit! Try to avoid morning and evenings of weekdays, as many Palestinians will be crossing to leave for work/return home from work at these times
      • After you exit Checkpoint 300 on the Bethlehem side is a great place to grab a taxi, if you want one.
    2. The 231, “Beit Jala” (formerly the 21) — this bus travels from Damascus Gate to Bethlehem City Center, near the Church of the Nativity. This bus route does not require you to deal with Checkpoint 300 on your own, but you will still have to wait for the police to check the papers of every passenger. Because of this, you may be held up for some time. This is the route I tried to take, but for whatever reason, it was not operating that day, and I had to take the 234 instead.
    3. The 232, “Beit Safafa” (formerly the 22) — this was the route on which I was able to find the least amount of information. I know that it begins at Damascus Gate like the other two, but I was not able to find where it actually terminates. From what I could gather, I believe this bus may go all the way into Hebron, but I am not certain.
      • If you have any information on the 232 route, let me know and I’ll add it to the guide!
  • Fare for one trip is 5 NIS, or approximately 1.42 USD. You can only pay in cash.
  • Here’s South Bus Company’s official website that you can see the latest info on. They only have their website in Hebrew and Arabic, so use Google Translate if you need English (or another language). The site shows you routes and the schedules.
    • Note that in Palestine and Israel, the working week is Sunday-Thursday. From sundown Friday to sunrise Sunday, Jews (so, Israelis in particular) observe Shabbat, meaning that public transport in Jerusalem is not widely available. As a result, on the schedule, you’ll see Sunday-Thursday, then Friday and Saturday schedules.
  • Be mindful of time if you’re traveling very far into Palestine. Within Bethlehem and the rest of the West Bank, there are more checkpoints beyond the initial checkpoint crossing, depending on whether you are technically in Palestinian or Israeli territory. Each checkpoint has certain hours of operation, so you do not want to get caught on the wrong side of a checkpoint after it has closed!
    • Checkpoint 300, the main checkpoint for crossing between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, is supposedly open 24/7. However, I have also heard that Palestinians will queue for hours in early morning in order to ensure that they can get to work on time in the morning, so just because a checkpoint is permanently staffed, does not mean that processing will be efficient at all hours of the day!
  • To return to Jerusalem at the end of your travels, simply catch the bus again from where you got off. You will need to pay another 5 NIS fare. You can either ride the bus all the way back to Damascus Gate in Jerusalem or signal the bus driver (usually a wire to pull or button to press) that you want to get off at any of the stops in Bethlehem or Jerusalem along the way.

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Let me know if you have any particular questions or if there’s anything you think I need to elaborate on further! This is all just based on my experience over the summer; no guarantee of course that things will be the same when you visit. If you have any information to add based on your travels, please leave a comment!

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Israel-Palestine this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Top: TJ Maxx

Trousers: J.Crew

August 13, 2019 – Interlude (OOTD #546)

Here’s the thing about independent research trips: you don’t have to do research for the whole time.

 

Or maybe you do — I don’t know, I’ve never done one before. Maybe a good researcher would spend all of their time devoted to their work. Alternatively, maybe all research trips are fake and people just go on them to travel to exotic places on their university’s budget. What do I know?

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Anyway, after a whole day devoted to working on my research project on the West Bank border graffiti, I decided I deserved a break. I knew I needed to go back to the border and have a closer look at some of the graffiti, but it’s not exactly an easy task. I needed another day or two to research how even I could get back to the area safely on my own, so in the meantime, I decided to do something a little more accessible to the average tourist.

What I ultimately decided to do was visit Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Museum.

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What I show here are not photos of me at Yad Vashem for what I think should be an obvious reason — a memorial to genocide is not the place for fashion photography. Sure, I took pictures while I was there of the exhibits, but the focus was on the exhibit, not me. As much as I like to make things about me, the Holocaust is far beyond the scope of even my narcissism.IMG_5418.jpeg

I did like my outfit though, so instead, I got some pictures with a sculpture and a nice hill overlooking the city in a nearby park.

It was a great museum though, seriously. That’s coming from me — a person who normally finds museums (except for art museums) to be dull and slow. The best part — as is the best part with a lot of museums to tragic events, such as the 9/11 Museum — were the video testimonies from people who lived through it. Diary entries and photographs and personal belongings help embellish the narrative, of course, but only the people who lived the experience can tell the story.IMG_5372.jpeg

They also did a fair job, in my opinion, from keeping the museum historical, rather than making it into it about why Zionism and a national Jewish state need to exist (though they did touch on that in the last room or two). Having just come from Palestine the previous day, I appreciated the dominantly historical approach.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Israel-Palestine this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Coat: Forever21

Dress: Vintage (thrift, Brick Lane Market)

Blouse: ASOS

 

August 12, 2019 – The Writing on the Wall (OOTD #545)

Here we are: the actual reason for my trip to Israel-Palestine!

I didn’t really discuss this in my blogs from last spring, but I spent a sizable chunk of time before spring break writing a grant proposal to go to Jerusalem to do some research. It was a long shot — I never thought I’d actually get the money to go, and I mostly considered it an experiment with the grant-writing process (which I had only done once before, to go to Vichy for a week-long language intensive in French) that would be useful practice for later.

The plan to go to Israel-Palestine stemmed from the time I’ve spent over the last two years working with the Madrasa Discourses project, for the conciliation of traditional Islamic thought with modernity in India and Pakistan. The idea first came from a friend that I made while in Doha with an MD conference. She was the one who originally proposed turning our experiences with Madrasa Discourses and interreligious dialogue into an independent project, and so I owe it to her for inspiring me to actually go through with the whole undertaking.IMG_5062.jpeg

Though she ultimately couldn’t go, which was a huge factor in determining my level of comfort going to a politically tense area like Jerusalem, I still decided to do it. You don’t get a grant from your university to do research every day — especially when the research takes you to a country and a culture you’ve experienced been before.

There have been many famous walls throughout history – the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, the of Northern Ireland Peace Lines – and now a new barrier wall has joined their ranks.

This barrier wall is the West Bank barrier, which separates the Muslim-dominant Palestine from the Jewish-dominant Israel. Described by Israelis as a “security fence” (geder-ha-hafrada) and by Palestinians as an “apartheid wall” (jidar al-fasl al-‘unsuri), the barrier has been a subject of controversy ever since its construction began in 2002. Out of controversy and political unrest, however, can spring one of the most passionate and creative forms of self-expression: art.

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Much like what was seen in Berlin and Belfast, artists in Jerusalem have transformed the concrete that separates Israel and Palestine into a canvas for political discussion. On either side of these walls, activists, professional artists, and civilians have used graffiti as a way to express opinions about the situation in Israel-Palestine and the barrier’s existence.

During the course of my one-week journey to Israel-Palestine, I studied this political graffiti on the West Bank border wall, focusing specifically on the area around Bethlehem. My goal was to discover some of the artistic themes on the wall and how those reflected local sentiment about the ongoing Israel- Palestine conflict. More specifically, I wanted to study how the opposing narratives of the border wall as a “security fence,” as it is referred to by many Israelis, or as an “apartheid wall,” as it is referred to by many Palestinians, were evident in the wall’s artwork.

If you’re not familiar with the situation in Israel-Palestine surrounding the border wall, here’s a little context: the border was initially constructed by Israel to protect against extremist Palestinian bombings, and to many Israelis, it has done its job well. In 2004, approval of the wall for Jewish-Israelis was at 78%, with many arguing that it had caused the shift from nearly-weekly bombings in 2003 to only three attacks in 2004. IMG_5087.jpeg

However, though the barrier primarily follows the Green Line (a 1948 armistice border acknowledged by the UN), it swerves east several kilometers to incorporate certain Israeli settlements. To many Palestinians, this is nothing short of occupation and land grab. The wall cuts off many Palestinian citrus and olive farmers from their land, making it difficult or impossible for them to harvest their crops because of the new security checkpoints. Crossing the checkpoints from Palestine-controlled Bethlehem to get into Israel-controlled Jerusalem also poses many problems for Palestinians; people begin queuing hours in advance on weekday mornings so that they can get to their jobs in Jerusalem. Many simply bypass the checkpoints and cross the border illegally every morning instead — something Israeli employers easily take advantage of by refusing to pay “illegal” Palestinians for labor they have already completed.

With this background in mind, I began my preliminary research by taking a graffiti tour with a Palestinian guide. This initial tour was crucial, as he was able to point out key pieces of art (such as those by famous English graffiti artist Banksy) and direct me to other wall-related graffiti that was in the area but not necessarily on the wall itself. I came back at a later date to actually scrutinize individual pieces and photograph the wall itself; this first day was just to get my bearings with the help of a local. With this as my main goal for the day, I was able to relax a little and just enjoy learning.

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Due to the constantly changing nature of graffiti, some of the pieces that I had seen online when I had been doing research for my grant proposal had been completely removed or covered by new pieces of graffiti. For example, one, which had previously depicted President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu in a kiss, had been altered to remove their embrace. It may be interesting to go again in a year or so to see how the visible graffiti has changed — which pieces have been scrubbed away, or covered up by other graffiti, or had their message altered.

My guide also took me into Bethlehem to see a Palestinian refugee camp, where I got to talk to some locals (including an elderly man who rememberd when the Palestinians were orignally evicted from their homes in 1948 during what is known to Israelis as their War of Independence and known to Palestinians as The Nakba, meaning “the Catastrophe” in Arabic). Seeing the lives of Palestinians as they went about their days was honestly just as impactful as the graffiti. At one point, we had to cross into a piece of territory that was technically under the control of Israel. We, as foreigners, were allowed in but our Palestinian guide was stopped by IDF soldiers before he even got to the checkpoint.

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But it wasn’t all politics and gloom — we visited a part of Hebron, where we saw a glassblowing workshop. We also saw the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the (honestly, kind of tacky) Crusade-era church built to commemorate the supposed birthplace of Jesus. And we got lunch at a really lovely Palestinian cafe, which was still open despite the fact that it was a Muslim holiday and most places were closed.

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When I originally wrote this grant proposal, I had hoped to learn about both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict through the artwork on the wall. As it turned out, there wasn’t much artwork on the Israeli side at all, nor was there much artwork on the Palestinian side that might be described as “pro-Israel.” I thought that this might be the case going in — graffiti often being used more as a vessel for protest rather than praise — so my trip helped to confirm my belief.

Because I actually visited Palestine/the West Bank, rather than just viewing images of the wall online, I actually got a sense of what life is like for the Palestinians who live behind the wall. Perhaps most apparent was the great wealth disparity that was immediately visible as soon as I crossed from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. They feel like worlds apart — one is relatively safe, modern, and comfortable, and the other looks more like what you’d imagine a war zone in the Middle East to be. The massive concrete wall, guard towers, and IDF soldiers watching you from above doesn’t help.  

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Do I recommend that you go to the wall itself? Personally, I feel a little conflicted about the concept of political tourism, because actual people’s lives aren’t something to be gawked at and photographed like animals at a zoo — however, it’s critical to educate yourself about the history and political context of the places you go, and one of the best ways to do that is simply to pay a visit to a contested area. Each city has one– it’s Freedom Square in Budapest, it’s the Opéra in Vichy.

As the quote goes, travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. Respect the people you encounter, don’t treat it like it’s another tourist destination for Instagram, and share what you see if it so moves you to consider a different perspective or narrative than you thought you knew.

If you ever get the chance to visit Israel-Palestine, I highly recommend popping over to the West Bank to get the Palestinian story. Whatever you decide, do as the writing on the wall says, and “don’t be a brick in this wall.”IMG_5145

 

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my trip to Israel-Palestine this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Top: Zara

Coat: Forever21

Trousers: Altar’d State

July 6, 2019 – Bizarre Bazaar (OOTD #527)

I can’t believe I didn’t use that as one of my Instagram captions.

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young trash that likes looking at old trash

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As promised from yesterday’s blog about Budapest Central Market, I’m here now to discuss the superior of the two major markets in Budapest: the Ecseri Bazaar.

Being fair, they are two very different markets; it almost doesn’t make sense to compare them. Central Market focuses on food and *some* gifts and trinkets for tourists, while Ecseri is essentially a flea market. Central Market sells things that are brand new, while Ecseri sells things that are secondhand and vintage. Given my track record of buying vintage clothing, guess which one I was drawn to more?

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hey macklemore, can we go thrift shopping?

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I went with my friend, Bilal, and I think he was bored out of his mind. Too bad for him, because I thoroughly enjoyed it. I absolutely adore looking at people’s old junk — especially people’s old junk in different countries and cultures. You can learn a lot about the history of a place by visiting a flea market, and Budapest was no exception.

I was tempted by a few pins that featured the classic Soviet hammer and sickle insignia, but there was no way to tell if they were authentic vintage pieces or just made in China reproductions for tourists like me. In the end, I wound up with two blouses and a coat — all for under 20 USD.

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yes homo

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In the afternoon,  I attended the Budapest Pride Parade alongside my friend and his Central European University friends. Of the various protests/parades/marches I’ve participated in in the last three years, this one may have been the most significant. Here’s the thing: marches are often boring. You walk super slowly, you maybe say a few chants, and you look at the funny signs. Maybe you get a cute picture for Instagram,. You don’t go because you want to have fun; you go because you care about the issue, or at the very least, civil society’s right to protest about their issue.

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dude, that’s gay

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This is an overgeneralization, but for the other marches I’ve attended, the marchers wanted an expansion on something that already existed. For example, at the climate change strike in Rome, the students wanted the Italian government to do more than what they were doing to stop the climate crisis. For this march, the marchers wanted something that doesn’t really exist at all in Hungary — LGBTQ rights.

That’s a significant difference, at least for me as a participant. In the latter case — advocating to have something that doesn’t exist — you feel more like a catalyst, like a trailblazer. It’s riskier to say you want something new than to say you want more of something you already have some of. Both are perfectly valid forms of demonstration, but one, to me as an individual, is more personally engaging.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Outfit 1:

Top: Forever21

Trousers: Thrifted (Salvation Army)

Outfit 2:

Top: Vintage (thrifted, Ecseri Bazaar)

Shorts: PacSun

July 2, 2019 – Fashion, Fascism, and the Blue Danube Waltz (OOTD #524)

I’m a big fan of walking bridges.

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could you tell me the abridged version?

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And I think the Margaret Bridge in Budapest may be favorite yet. It connects Buda and Pest, the two halves of Budapest (clever naming, right?) across the Danube from each other. Walking, I’d say it takes maybe 15 or 20 minutes to cross.

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i see why johann strauss ii wrote a waltz

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The view either way is gorgeous, though I would personally say that looking out at the Pest side from Buda is a particular treat, as you can see both the Parliament Building and St. Stephen’s Basilica across the water.

In addition to a lovely walking bridge that stretches the Danube River, Budapest also has the oldest Metro line in mainland Europe (the award for oldest Metro in all of Europe goes to the London Underground), with Line M1 dating all the way back in 1896.

I actually had the pleasure of riding Line M1 for a brief commute with my friend Bilal, as he needed to go from his university in the downtown area to a neighborhood a ways away. Maybe is a quirk specific to me, but I love testing public transportation systems in new cities. I grew up in a city without one (well, I suppose they had city buses, but there were no stops near where I lived so it was irrelevant to me), and so visiting places that have a metro or a train system is super exciting to me.

Budapest’s M1 had such a vibe. It looked more like it came out of the 1960’s rather than the 1890’s, but I can’t pretend that I know exactly what 1890’s public transit design looks like. I feel like most rail systems feel like walking into a time capsule, but this one had an especially strong aesthetic.

The final stop of the day was a monument to the former communist (note the lowercase “c”) Hungarian Prime Minister and leader of the failed Hungarian Revolution, Imre Nagy.

Let me tell you a little about this monument, which I think may have been up there in the list of my favorite things I saw in all of Europe this summer: it’s some spectacularly subtle design. Or at least it was, until it was moved to its current location.

Originally, this statue was located in Liberty Square, a plaza with some highly-political, highly-contested statues and monuments. Among other, less debated pieces, one can find controversial (depending, of course, on your opinion of the subject matter) monuments to the Red Army, to Ronald Reagan, and to the victims of German occupation (which features a makeshift protest installation right next to it) there.

Up until January of this year, Imre Nagy was right alongside the others. He was near the monument to the Soviet Red Army, which is a controversial monument in and of itself. It is the only Soviet monument in Budapest that has been allowed to remain in its original location; all of the others were moved to a park well outside of the city after the fall of the USSR.

Nagy’s original placement near the monument to the Red Army was very intentional. His gaze was fixed on Parliament, with his back to the Red Army. As a leader of the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1956, which attempted to drive out Soviet control following its establishment during the liberation of Hungary from Nazi occupation, this is of course rather symbolic. He looked away from fascism and totalitarianism and towards democratic governance. With his relaxed and non-confrontational but defiant stance, he made a clear political statement through a few purposeful, subtle design choices.

However, Nagy’s statue has been moved to a new location near Margaret Bridge next to the Danube. He still looks towards Parliament, but he no longer has his back directly to the Red Army, and he is no longer so centrally located.

Was his relocation a political statement as well? Did Viktor Orbán himself order the monument’s movement, as one of his many attempts at historical revisionism? I don’t know. I can only say that I don’t like that the statue was moved, as it takes away from its original meaning and artistic intent. It’s an offense to Imre Nagy, to Hungarian history, and to good design.

Anyway, that was more than I meant to say today about historical revisionism and Hungarian politics. In summary: more fashion, less fascism. 

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Top: The LOFT

Skirt: Forever21

June 16, 2019 – Ruined (OOTD #519)

Well if you close your eyes / do you almost feel like you’ve been here before? 

Pompeii was one of those places that I knew I wanted to visit as soon as I learned I had gotten the internship in Rome. Everything I’d heard from friends who’d been to Italy before was that it was somewhere I needed to go — and that furthermore, if I didn’t go now, I might never have a chance, as it’s not the most well-preserved site.

After spending the previous day in Naples and liking but not loving it, I decided to take the one-hour train on to Pompeii.

So was it everything I dreamed?

Actually, not really. Admission was steep, and that didn’t even cover the cost of a tour — and so I didn’t get a tour. As it turns out, that’s not a wise idea. It’s a huge space that’s easy to get lost in, and if you can’t read the signs in Italian, there’s not much to indicate what you’re actually looking at. Thankfully, I was there alongside a set of friends who spoke Italian and a set of friends who’d studied Classics and Latin in university, and so together, they were able to piece together what we saw. Without them, though, I would have been completely clueless.

Despite being a history major, if I’m honest, ancient Roman history is just not my wheelhouse. I like modern history — anything post-French Revolution is exciting to me (though 19th century imperialism can be a little dry.) In terms of history, cities like Budapest or Prague or Berlin are the most fascinating to me. I appreciate visiting places like Pompeii and Rome because I appreciate their history — but while I appreciate their history, it doesn’t inspire me like other histories do.

The best part of Pompeii was probably its most morbid element — the casts of dead bodies in their final positions before their owners succumbed to the smoke and ash. I’m not going to post any pictures here because it may be disturbing to some, but I would highly recommend a Google search of the plaster bodies of Pompeii. Through the plaster casts, you get a sense of what these people’s last moments were like before they died. It’s creepy and humbling.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life in Europe this summer. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


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