Budapest baby!!!

Trip Start Apr 28, 2009
Trip End Jun 01, 2009

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Flag of Hungary  ,
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

  Again I experienced the stressful situation of trying to find an ATM and how to get from point A to B, especially coming from a night train. Usually there is an ATM machine at the train station, but this one was out of order. So off you go trying to find one, bumbling past people bothering you asking if you need a place to stay or if you need a cab. Of course the machine couldn't be right out front, but I eventually found it. Good, one task down. Sat for a bit to figure how I will get to my hotel and came up with a plan. Luckily it worked out for me. I had to take the metro and a tram to get there, and luckily the public transportation is really easy to figure out. That is the one nice thing about the Euro dollar is not having to take out money at every city you go to. And then you have to decide how much to take out, and hopefully you calculated it right, so that it will last you for the time that you are there. I underestimated in Prague, and overestimated in Krakow. Budapest I hope will be just right!

The hotel wasn't able to check me in that early so I left my bags there for 5 euros. This is the catch here. They only charged me 15 euros/night which is so cheap, even hostels cost more. But you have to pay extra for everything else. If I wanted my room cleaned, use the hair dryer, TV, internet, you have to pay extra. But who watches TV when you are on vacation, I can clean up after myself, and I discovered a coffee shop that is a few blocks away from my hotel that has free wifi with purchase.

Went to check out the Terror Museum in the morning and it was money worth spent! The museum is in the same building that the Nazi headquarters were and then later on the Communist. In the basement there were tons of jail cells used to torture and murder people. When you enter the building a huge Soviet tank is pointing it's gun at you. There are many displays showing videos of the Nazi occupation and then the Soviet. There was one disturbing video showing many concentration camp victims bodies being bulldozed into a mass grave. There were also videos of gulag camp survivors telling their stories of their time spent in these work camps. The museum leads you through different rooms that display old uniforms, Communist propaganda, and stories about the resistors. At the end of the tour you are in the cellar where they have all the cells. There are some cells that only have enough for you to stand and bright lights are flashed in front of your eyes, some that are filled with a few inches of standing water, a padded cell, and others that are so small you couldn't sit up and they are in complete darkness. In each cell they have pictures of those that died there. There was one cell where they did all the torturing and the last cell was the gallows. At the end of the tour they show videos of people celebrating when the Communists departed. The secret police ended up imprisoning, torturing or murdering one person from every third Hungarian family.

After that experience I wandered the and ended up walking along the Danube, to the Parliament and then to St Stephens Basilica. The basilica has the mummified hand of St Stephen on display, but you have to pay a few dollars in a slot where a light will shine on it for a few minutes. I just looked at the photographs that they had hanging up. I climbed up the stairs to the top to get a good view of Budapest. Budapest is a lot like Paris in a way. The streets are wide with most of the buildings dating from the late 19th century. It is a very nice city, and doesn't have a touristy feel to it. The one nice thing too is that it is so big, all the tourists are spread out. There are a lot of English speaking tourists here, compared to the other cities. There must be more low cost air carriers flying to here.

Went out to an early dinner, okay three o'clock, at this place called Mensa. Everyone in the internet community and guide books raves on and on about it, but it wasn't that great. At least my meal wasn't very over priced. I should have ordered something that didn't scream out TOURIST! like my Hungarian stew. It was probably Puritan canned stew or something. I headed back to the hotel to check in. My room is tiny! But it's cheap and I won't be spending that much time in it. Figured I would clean up, go to that internet place and have an early night. I have been sleeping poorly that last few nights as I have had a few drunken late nights with early mornings. And that sweaty, sauna like train ride didn't help either!
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