Drinking Bull's Blood on the Railroad Tracks

Trip Start Jun 08, 2008
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Trip End Jul 09, 2008


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Flag of Hungary  ,
Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Since we had explored the Buda side of Budapest the previous day, it was decided that we would use our last day in Europe to explore the Pest side of the city.  After catching breakfast at a street side café, we headed down Andrassy Utca for the seemingly never ending walk towards Heroes Square and the City Park.  After walking the mile or two we finally arrived at Heroes Square, an enormous square which contains the two matching colonnades containing statues of great Hungarians through history as well as an enormous pillar rising between the two.  At the base of the pillar are statues of the seven chieftains that are regarded as the founding fathers of the Hungarian nation when they first arrived in the Carpathian basin more than a thousand years ago. 
 
After growing tired of attempting to decipher the Hungarian text of the inscriptions on the statues we decided to venture into the City Park and see what that would have to offer.  After walking through the park for awhile we stumbled upon a castle...a castle that looked like a legit fairy tale castle.  After traveling through Europe for a month and seeing several "castles" I was so happy to finally find one that had all the necessary castle requirements; there was a moat, a bridge, outlook towers, and more.  I discovered the name of the castle was Vajdahunyad Castle, and I began to imagine this long and deep history for it.
 
To my dismay I soon discovered that this castle was in fact an imposter.  Apparently it was built in 1896 for the celebrations of a millennium of Hungarian civilization, and originally was composed of wood and cardboard.  However, it was so popular during the celebrations that it was soon rebuilt using stone and cement to become a permanent fixture of the City Park.  But to its credit, it is based on a castle of the same name found in Transylvania.  The castle also houses the statue of Anonymous, a memorial dedicated to a writer who wrote the first history books of the ancient Hungarians some time around the twelfth century.  It was interesting how the first books of the Hungarian history are written by someone who has never been identified. 
 
We eventually left the City Park and walked down Andrassy Utca towards the Parliament building.  The Budapest Parliament might just be the most beautifully intricate building I had seen in my month in Europe; it reminded me of the of the parliament building of London but as if designer went mad and placed spikes and towers all across the building.  In all actuality, the building is quite "evil" looking and seems like it would be a good home for a brutal dictator (which it was during communist times). 
 
Hungary was a Soviet satellite state and had its own communist led government that stifled dissent and free speech.  In the year 1956 there was a spontaneous revolution against the communist government, which quickly spread throughout the country and the communist forces were quickly routed.  However, the Soviet Union didn't like the idea of one of its vassal states leaving its sphere of influence and quickly mounted an invasion which brought the communist government back and killed nearly 3,000 Hungarian civilians.  This event was a profound moment in Hungarian history and left an indelible scar on the psyche of the nation, so much so that it is still very much apparent to the present day.
 
In 2006, the Hungarian government had plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1956 revolution; however, the government was run by the Socialist party which is for all purposes the descendant of the former communist party.  The thought of former communists taking part in a commemoration of the 1956 revolution in addition to a government fraud scandal resulted in mass protests taking place at the Parliament building.  In fact, the protests got so far out of control that protestors actually stole a tank from the army and rode it through the streets. 
 
Due to this fact, it was nearly impossible to get close to the Parliament building as there are barriers set up all around the building.  However, there were remnants of the protests still visible two years later, including a small monument dedicated to the revolutionaries and to the hopeful abolishment of communism.  The text read "To be truly safe, you must remove the Communists.  The most dangerous person is the usurper of a failed idea"; which roughly means that they already got rid of communism but still need to get rid of the communists (a.k.a. present socialist government). 
 
The sun was setting on our last day in Europe, and we were left wondering what to do for the remaining few hours.  Obviously, the only logical conclusion to our trip would be the same way we started it...getting drunk.  We wandered over to the local corner store and bought two bottles of the infamous Bull's Blood, known elsewhere as typical Red Wine.  Knowing this would not be enough we also purchased a case of local Hungarian beer and walked over to the edge of the Danube River.
 
We sat down by the rail road tracks, cracked open the bottles of wine, and watched the sun set on Buda Castle and on our trip...
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