Friday, August 25, 2006

Budapest

**This blog entry has been posted late. Its date has been set to August 25th, when it was intended to be uploaded, but has in fact been posted on August 30th. Apologies.**

Cosmopolitan, contemporary, ancient: Budapest is a modern, stylish city with absolute old world charm. While the shock of the Communist era of oppression may not have completely warn off, nor should it, this is very much a city in the now. In planning for this part of the journey I was expecting to find something big, bustling, a little messy and a lot of fun, and that’s exactly what I got.

The truth about Budapest is you need to have your energy reserves on full to make the most of your time there, and unfortunately by the time we arrived our tanks were coming up on empty. The St. Stephen’s Day celebrations which greeted us upon our arrival certainly got us caught up in the excitement, and the bicycle tour we took the next day gave us plenty of insight and some fantastic views, but from there on in it was pretty much up to us, and we’d unanimously declared we were going to take it easy. Fortunately for us, taking it easy was made easy on us with a trip to the thermal baths.

After over three weeks and four destinations, with lots of little destinations in between, we were finally ready to come home Thursday night. I’d happily visit each and every one of the destinations on this holiday again, but for now London will do just fine… until this Thursday when we leave for Ireland, that is.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, here's a look back at Budapest.


This mysterious hooded character is believed to be responsible for recording much of Hungary’s early history, though his identity remains unknown. His pen, when rubbed, is meant to enhance or improve one’s skills in writing. Clearly I’ve dispelled that little myth.

Having survived the long climb up the hill to Buda Castle, Laura takes a well deserved fluid break.

Meanwhile, Agnes, our tour guide, drops some knowledge as the boys from our group… admire the view.

Protected from public demolition by a fence, this monument is one of only two still standing that has any ties to the Communist Era of Budapest. A paradox, it symbolizes both Hungary’s liberation from Nazi occupation and their control under Communist oppression. In the far background is the spire of the House of Parliament, atop which the same star, the symbol of the Communist Party, once stood. Behind me, facing the Communist monument, stands the American Embassy. Even Agnes had a chuckle at that one.

The awning of the Terror Museum literally casts a shadow of terror on itself, which creeps along its fa├žade throughout the day as a chilling reminder of the recent past. If you haven’t gotten it yet, Hungary really didn’t appreciate Communism.

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