Time to breathe...

Trip Start Oct 03, 2012
Trip End Nov 01, 2014

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Flag of Hungary  ,
Wednesday, October 31, 2012

We weren't going to make our way down to Budapest from Krakow initially but had heard really good things about this city in Hungary, so we decided to take a quick look around before moving onto Vienna.

We are also feeling a little bit tired from packing bags and moving here there and everywhere, so we thought that Budapest would also give us the chance to relax and have some time out, as we had heard the natural baths were awesome!

The city was easy to navigate and everything was relatively close, so we did quite a bit of wandering the first day. We were also supposed to meet up with a couple we had met in Krakow, but with limited internet we seemed to miss each other and it was there last day in Budapest and our first. Hopefully will get a chance to see them again at some point :)
There were a shit load of homeless people here, and in general Europe is pretty bad for this, but this was more than usual. Every street, alley way, train station, there were homeless people sleeping and begging for money, very sad.

We got to experience the relaxing atmosphere of the Szechenyi thermal baths which are also said to be good for general health. It was so awesome there, and pretty massive too. There were indoor and outdoor baths, all ranging in different temperatures. We both looked like shriveled prunes afterwards, I guess that's what happens after staying in water for 5 hours.

House of Terror was next on our list of things to see. This was a memorial to the victims of fascist regimes, including those detained, interrogated, tortured or killed in the building. A lot of this had to do with the SS troops during WWII and the treatment of the Hungarian Jews. It was pretty graphic, where the secrets of what went on in the place were far from hidden. We got to visit the basement level which was where the prisoners were held, tortured and killed.
This was a very creepy experience and most of the basement was as it would have been at the time it was used. There was a cell built specifically so the inmate couldn't sit or lie down, it was only 50cmx60cm and purposely had a bright light at eye level that was never turned off. Other cells were dipped into the ground so they could fill the floor up to calf height with water and just leave the prisoners in there for days or even weeks, and one was built so the prisoner couldn't stand up and was consistently crouching (not very good for the old back!). There were a few other specific cells like that too, used to torture people. 
Pictures of those that died are lined throughout the building in remembrance, along with those that partook in these horrendous crimes, for shaming purposes i guess.

The Jewish Memorial, which is just past Parliament set on the side on the river was probably one of our favourite memorials so far just because it seems a bit more personal than a slab of concrete with writing on it. When you get there you are faced with loads of iron shoes lining the concrete walls of the river. Seeing the shoes there gives you a sense of belonging and more of a reality that people had been killed there. This is where during WWII Jews were lined up on the edge and shot into the river, there bodies left to be carried away by the currents. I think the idea of different kinds of iron shoes lining the bank of the river was a nice touch for a memorial.

Budapest Palace/Castle is a city of its own as this used to be the old town and spans about 2km. Its set on the hill top, across the river from the Jewish Memorial. It has everything from shops to cathedrals to the royal palace. We went up there at night, which was stunning. All the structures were lit, up including the hill side, so we got to see the amazing stone wall that lined the entire castle. Some parts of the architecture of the castle reminded me of a fairytale castle, very pretty.

The chain bridge was pretty awesome sight to see, it had huge concrete lions welcoming you at each end of it. This is the oldest bridge in Budapest and was actually bombed during WWII, which meant they had to rebuild it.

Budapest was a good quick stop for us, we got to see a lot for the small amount of time, but also got to take a breather and relax before moving onwards and upwards again.

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