Trip Start Sep 13, 2005
Trip End Oct 15, 2006

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Flag of Hungary  ,
Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Budapest was my little rest stop in Europe. Being a part of Eastern Europe makes it a little less expensive than the other cities in my romp through the continent, so I felt no guilt in taking a bit of time for myself. I didn't rush myself through the city but instead tried to take a bit of a breather from it all. While this would have been a perfect opportunity to rest my body in the thermal baths Hungary is so famous for, I decided instead to rest my mind and challenge my body. During one of my exquisite 4 days in Budapest I strolled around Margit Island. I sat by the musical fountain for over an hour just enjoying the sun and contemplating life. I brought a small picnic and watched the water in the fountain dance in time with the classical music that played in the background. The sun was shinning and the weather was perfect.

On my last night in Budapest I decided to do something I love but never have the opportunity to do. I decided to go caving in the mountains. I joined a tour group that explored the Pal-volgyi-Matyas-hegyi cave system located in the Duna-Ipoly National Park of Hungary. We were given headlamps, hardhats and caving suits and headed into the darkness. For two and a half hours we were asked to squeeze our bodies into tiny crevices and shimmy our way into and out of spots that seemed physically impossible. It was magnificent! The next day my knees ached, my body was bruised and battered but I felt amazing. I'm once again hooked and can't wait until my next bit of adventure.

In between the mental relaxation and the physical challenges, I was treated to a wonderful traditional Hungary dinner by my college friend Timi's sister. It was yummy and afterwards we checkout out an amazing view of the city from the Citadel that is (I think) the highest point in the city. I would have missed the view at night otherwise so thanks again Imola for that little excursion. In addition, I decided to check out some of the history of Hungary since I was totally clueless. I headed out to Statue Park and visited the House of Terror. Statue Park is located on the outskirts of Budapest. It is a place where old communist era statues have been put to rest. Statues of Lenin, Marx, Engles and other that once resided in the heart of Budapest were not destroyed when the iron curtain fell, but instead moved. The experience at the Park was a bit surreal because of the size of the statues and their significance in history but the trip is definitely worthwhile...just make sure you get the accompanying guide or you might be a little lost.

While I am close to my limit of the number of museums I can take seeing, the House of Terror in Budapest was an entirely different type of museum. It documents two eras in Hungarian history that show you how dark humans can be. Hungary was sujected to occupation by the Nazis and then the Communists. It was a time of oppression, intimidation, and many other horros that are likely to keep people up late at night. It's a place I can't do justice to by briefly talking about in a travel blog, but anyone travelling to Budapest should consider a stop here. It brings to life in a very contemporary way, a bit of history that seems like it was a lot further back in history that it actually is.
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