Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Welcome to Budapest! 4-6 June 2010

I arrived somewhat late to my hotel in Budapest after dealing with lost luggage and navigating stand-still traffic for a few hours. Despite the complications, I didn't really care. I was just happy to be there! Budapest was a beautiful city, and I booked my first night there at the Marriott, overlooking the Danube with a great view across the river. I walked around for a few hours that evening, crossing the Chain Bridge, walking past the Parliament Building, and eventually found my way to St. Stephen's Basilica.

Outside the Basilica was a rally marking the 90th anniversary of the Treaty of Trianon, which divided Hungary into a smaller state following the end of WWI. I was first a bit nervous because there were a disproportionate amount of white, mustachioed, camo-wearing men than I'm used to. But since it was part of a mass going on in the Basilica, I'm pretty sure it was legit.

The next day, I grabbed an amazing hotel breakfast on the patio overlooking the river, then transferred to my cheaper hotel... sad!! I then went to the House of Terror, located on 62 Andrassy Avenue, and the former headquarters of both the Nazi and Communist regimes. Today it is a museum and monument to the victims of both regimes. The basement, used in the past as a prison, torture chamber, and execution hall, was also open to visitors.

Wall of Victims, House of Terror

I then continued down Andrassy and ran into a street festival full of different foods, wines, beers, crafts, and art projects. It was a really interesting way for me to see a lot of Hungarian culture all at once, and culture packaged for Hungarian consumption, not for foreigners. I saved all the climbing for my last day in Budapest. I crossed over to Buda on the opposite side of the river and climbed up Castle Hill, a really old part of town complete with tiny, cobble-stoned streets.
View of Pest from Castle Hill

I spent a few hours there, then went back for a proper visit to St. Stephen's and visited the Dohany Street Synagogue, the oldest in Europe.

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