The Iron Curtain Has Been Lifted

Trip Start Jun 06, 2009
Trip End Aug 31, 2009

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Where I stayed
Good Morning Budapest Hostel

Flag of Hungary  , Budapest,
Saturday, July 25, 2009

I had a 5:30 am flight from Athens into Budapest and decided to stay up late in Athens because I didn't want to miss my flight.  So by the time 5:30 came around, I was super tired and just wanted to sleep.  I had an hour or so of sleep on the plane and landed in Budapest.  The first thing I noticed when I walked outside, is how un-hot the weather was compared to Athens.  It was almost chilly but felt pretty good to me.  I made it the to hostel and thankfully there was a bed empty and I crashed for a few hours. 

Then I got a map and ate my canned chili that I had been carrying around for probably 4 weeks now and made my plan of attack for the city.  Which consisted of making a left on my street and hitting the sights as I came to them.  Genius I know!

I first came up to the Basicila of St Stephen's.  It's the largest church in Hungary and had the usual on the inside.  A huge dome with amazing decor on the inside.  They have the mummified "Holy Hand" of St Stephen's on display in a case for all to see.  He was the first King of Hungary.  And every Independence day, the country takes it out and parades it around the city.  Creepy!!  In order to activate the light in the box, you had to pay some money.  Another guy only had half of the money so I happily coughed up the other coin so I could see they bizarre hand.  And you know what, it looked like a mummified hand inside of a box.  I paid the money for the climb to the top and got a bird's eye view of the city.  Then I went to the National Museum which wasn't very good.  You can definitely tell a difference between world-class museums and this one.  It was all Hungarian history and old weapons, clothing, and other stuff from back in the day.  They seemed to have a butt-load of coins on display.  Not sure why.  Maybe Hungarians are known for their coins or their minting abilities.  But there would be some old swords in the display case along with more old coins.  At least some of the history was in English which is more than I can say for some Italian museums.  The Hungarians seemed to play the blame game with history when it comes to the Nazis, the Commies, and the Austrians.  It's funny how you always find a lot of info on the dark past of these countries in English.  They truly want the world to know how they were treated poorly or taken advantage of.  Next I started south to check out a synagogue which is apparently closed on Saturdays.  Then I went to the Central Market which was closed so I headed up where there was the Liberation Statue way up on a hill.  On the way I found a cave church which was kind of cool was a church in a cave.  Then I walked up the hill and finally found the statue after some leg pain from the My Olympus soreness.  Apparently the statue was erected after the Soviets liberated the country from the Nazis even though they signed a pact with the Nazis.  But they say they were pressured into aligning with the Axis Powers because of some other stuff.  After my hill climb I went down to the touristy restaurant area and found a decent place to eat some Hungarian food.  I had some Goulash soup and Chicken w/ paprika sauce and rice.  It was pretty dam good!  It wasn't that expensive either until they put the 25% tourist street only tax on top.  Not going back.

The evening was topped off with me going to an Irish Pub for some Irish suds and I met two Swedish guys who were in town for the Hungarian Grand Prix happening here.  We drank and talked into the wee hours and had a blast.  Like everyone, I always get an invite for a free couch if I ever make it up to their hometown.  Through my travels I have met people from all over the world and have received this same offer.  I just wish they were in my travel path so I could take them up on the offer.  It would be nice to have a native showing you around the city.  Even if it's a tiny fishing village.  Nothing beats having a local with you!

Since I stayed up late, I woke up at the crack of 11 because my alarm clock found a new home back in Greece.  So I thought it would be a lazy day in the park.  There is a city park that has a bunch of museums, a castle, fun park, and a bathhouse.  I guess Hungary is known for bathhouses.  I walked around for a bit then decided to go to the bathhouse before it got too late.  The bathhouse is kind of an adult place so there weren't too many kids which meant no splashing water in the face.  Yeah!!  It's pretty much a bunch of outdoor swimming pools complete with saunas, a tiny gym, some kind of infra red something room, and some massage rooms.  The bathhouse was pretty cool to be in.  One of the pools was a thermal pool which meant is was a lot warmer than normal and it was so nice to just sit in and relax.  They even had some cool fountains spraying water in the pool which was neat.  After 2 hours of being lazy in the thermal pool with my International Herald Tribune, I decided it was massage time.  After all, I've been working hard!  As you can imagine, the massage was really good and it really hit the spot.  Now I can say that I've gotten a massage by a Hungarian dude.  Another check in the box for me.  Awesome!!!  Afterward I wandered the streets of Budapest and found a nice restaurant and ate some really good Hungarian fish. 

Story time:  I was walking a touristy area of town when two good looking women approached me and asked if I knew where bar something was.  I said I have no idea because I'm obviously not from here.  Then they asked if I wanted to go with them to the bar.  I declined and walked away.  About 50 meters later the same thing happened.  Two women are looking for the same bar.  Funny I thought!  Well, after the first two came up to me I knew what they were doing.  I met an American guy last night and he told me a story.  A story about how some bar tried to charge 2 Irish guys some crazy high price for "ladies drinks."  Something like 50,000 Euros.  And they have a few big strongmen who try to make you pay.  Well one of the Irish guys went into the bathroom and made a phone call to his buddies.  A few minutes later 15 Irish guys ran into the place and started beating the strongmen and destroying everything in the bar.  Well, the women were trying to get me into their bar so they could make me pay some crazy amount.  Along my walk I must of been approached 5 more times.  As I was walking back through, I noticed two Spanish guys who had just accepted into one of their requests to go to their bar, as they were walking away I pulled them aside and told them what they were doing.  The two girls soon vanished and they gave me a hearty thank you.

My last day was pretty uneventful.  I woke up early and headed out to the Parliament Building.  It is the second largest in Europe after the one in London.  Apparently they only let you in in groups so I had to get a time 2 hours after I first got there.  After I got my ticket I headed across the river to Castle Hill and did some walking.  I went to a few different touristy spots but nothing really tickled my fancy.  Then I had to rush back to the Parliament Building just to make my group time which I barely did.  The building was cool but the tour was kind of lame.  They really only took you into 3 different rooms.  One where the crown is guarded by guards in old costumes.  It was kind of lame because the tour guide said that every hour they do some fancy changing of the guards. was all setup for the tourists because after she finished her spiel on the crown, she made one of those cues to the guard who started the sword waving and walking.  It was all for show for the tourists.  So it kind of lost my respect a little with the sad showing they presented.  At least the Greeks, the US, and I think the British do their military honors 24/7 regardless if their is anyone watching.  As I always say...oh well!  Afterward I ate again some awesome Hungarian food at a self-service restaurant.  Then made my way to the Royal Palace.  If there was an entrance to the place, I couldn't find it.  So I just walked around the grounds and took in the sights. 

And that was all she wrote on Budapest.
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cwald on

It's not a vacation...
...without a Massage and a Beach! Sounds like you've fit both in nicely. You've been so busy I can hardly keep up!

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