Back to Budapest. Today we drove into Budapest (again with horrible traffic... apparently they are planning to make the centre car-free soon). We parked in City Park and took the metro towards the river. Our first stop was the Holocaust Memorial Centre. It is a museum devoted to the Holocaust and a synagogue. It is amazing. The material was both informative and amazing -- it was not censored or prettied-up for the public. As you walk through the complex, they do a great job of making you feel the emotions of the people involved (one long hallway is shadowed with the sillouettes of walking feet, along with the sound of footfalls, another room plays a soundtrack of a heartbeat).
After taking in this moving memorial centre, we strolled up Andrassy Ut, window shopping and people watching, stopping to shoot the Basillica and Opera House. Our next stop was the House of Terror, another memorable museum experience. This building was used by both the Hungarian Nazi branch, and later the Russians as a political prison and interrogation centre. The displays were incredible (though again, all in Hungarian... the English flyers were good but didn't correspond exactly to the presentations). One room showed daily life under Communism, another education, and one for agriculture (with walls made out of "pig fat"... actually wax). After learning about life under the Russians, we boarded a very slow elevator which took us to the bowels of the building. There was a display on the internment, interrogation, and execution of prisoners. (No photos from these museums... no cameras allowed inside).
Feeling a little emotionally spent, we decided it was time for levity. We had dinner in a quiet pub (with an American and his "escort" for dining companions) and walked down to the riverside. There we watched couples and friends, sitting on the bank drinking wine and relaxing. We shot some photos of the Parliament and walked back to the theatre, where we spent the remainder of the evening watching some Hungarian folk dance. It was wonderful! Lots of yelling and slapping (knees, that is). We headed back to the car and drove home.
The next day, we decided to come back to Budapest for the morning. We left Tata early in the morning (hoping to avoid the traffic we encountered the other days). We started at the Market Hall to buy some souvenirs. We spent too much time and too much money! Feeling a little broke, we decided to forgo the zoo and just go to Szechenyi instead. We spent the rest of the morning floating in the pools and fighting with the locals over the jets (they're very selfish... sitting in one place for hours while others are waiting to try the handful of jets available).
After showering off, we headed back out the car... only to find that we had been "booted." Next time you park in a no park zone because you see dozens of other people doing the same, and you figure, "they can't tow us all..." think again. In Budapest, they will. Thirty to forty of us all got the boot. We paid $75 bucks to get it off. I was less than pleased. I didn't even know we were in a No-Park zone (Attila did but he figured it was ok, based on all the other cars.) The attendant had quite the wad of cash in his hand, I tell you!
I simmered all the way back to Tata. Attila wanted to spend the afternoon with friends, so he visited Tibi and family while I stayed home with his family. When he got back, we went to the cemetary to visit his father and grandfather, then we went to visit Belci one last time. As we were leaving, a HUGE thunderstorm rolled though, knocking out power and pelting us with rain (turns out it was the same storm that caused a great deal of damage in Krakow, our next stop).
In the morning, we said good-bye to his mom, and hit the road.