Sunday, July 24, 2005

Europe 2005 - Hungary

Crossing into Hungary we had the fun of watching a couple of guys stuff packs of cigarettes down into every nook and cranny of their overalls that they had bought at the duty free shop before they got back on the bus.
We did not have anything on the list for Hungry but decided to stop in Budapest since it seemed a waste not to.
Budapest-The map actually shows 2 cities. Buda is up on hill west of the Danube river and Pest east of river.
Buda- we added a funicular to our modes of travel. ( a system of 2 trains like cars that offset each others weight, as one goes up the other comes down a steep hill.) Of course we came across another local celebration. They had traditional dancing which looked similar to Romania being in a circle and the kids wearing white but with different decorations.( I really feel sorry for the kids since I was subjected to learning square-dancing at about the same age.) Magdalen tower is the bombed out church where only the steeple survived from W.W.II. It really does a good job of driving home the intended message- “War is bad, lets not do that again”.
Pest- The famous road is “Andrassy ut” because of the architecture. It was a nice walk and the Opera house is a really pretty example of that period of "hey you can always add a little more"
Terror house- The building is the one the Nazi's Gestapo used and then got used by the Communist secret police too, and is now turned into a museum. The museum is a no holds barred look at all the atrocities that happened during those 2 periods. I have never been through a museum where all the papers explaining what happened were so pissed off. (with good reason since they had it happening for 50 years. And the last prisoner didn't get out of Russia until 2000) They have good displays for the abductions, gulags, political favoritism, Communist propaganda, and the torture chambers in the basement.
Culture- According to the guide book Hungarians speak Magyar which is not related to any Romantic, Slavic, or Germanic language. This could not be truer as there is no similar words that we saw or heard at all. Here is one place that we were glad that people also spoke English. However everything did not seem as foreign as in Romania or Bulgaria, there are familiar stores to the rest of Europe and the driving style is organized and yields to pedestrians. In the terror house they really wanted to drive home that they were a democracy before occupation and became one again as soon as they could.

Money-New to joining the European Union they still have their own money but there were posters up everywhere for the Euro so it looks like they are getting ready. The exchange rate is about 235 to the dollar so it made it hard to do quick calculations in my head. (I finally just figured 250 to $1 so 1000 forint makes $4) things are not as cheap here as in Romania or Bulgaria and when we cross into Austria and go back to the Euro it will only get more expensive.

Family reunion- so today is my family reunion and it seems like I didn't quite make it to the other side of the world. I am only 11 hours time zones away, I just need one more. Just kidding - Hello all you guys I'm just celebrating from Budapest.

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