Budapest

Trip Start May 15, 2006
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57
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Trip End Sep 29, 2006


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Where I stayed
Central Backpackers Hostel

Flag of Hungary  ,
Saturday, August 26, 2006

Budapest is touted as one of the coolest cities in Eastern Europe and a must see for all backpackers. I guess it is a good thing we came here then huh.

We arrived in Budapest feeling pretty good after our 9 hour train ride from Slovenia. The train wasn't full so we each had our own bank of seats to lay down on which meant we could sleep the majority of the ride LAYING DOWN. We got to Budapest and went immediately to our hostel in the center of town. It is called the Central Backpackers Hostel and it lives up to its name. We are smack dab in the middle of town. We have our own private room in the hostel and our own private apartment with kitchens and bathrooms that we share with another room of four. The first night there, the hostel wasn't very busy and we had the whole floor to ourselves because nobody was in the extra room. We thought that was pretty sweet.

After checking in, we were all soooooo hungry(hehe....Hungry in Hungary) that we decided to take the advice of the front desk and go to an all you can eat buffet. I really didn't want to go because I hate buffets but the others dragged me along. We walked the 20 minutes to the restaurant, paid our 14 Euros, and walked into one of the nicest buffets I have ever seen. They had so many different kinds of surprisingly good food along with all you can drink beer, wine, soft drinks, and made to order espresso drinks. The coolest part of it all was the grill. They had an area filled with uncooked, marinated meats and vegetables and you filled a plate and then they grilled it up for you. Kind of like a Mongolian grill but with much higher quality meats. We feasted till we couldn't hold any more and then waddled back to our hostel for a night of relaxation. We played some poker and watched a movie and stayed a night at home which felt great.

The next day, I left the guys and went on a bike tour on my own. I met up with my guide and the 4 other people who were going on the tour with us and we spent the next 4.5 hours cruising around Budapest. The guide was really nice and knew his stuff about the sights. We stopped for a beer and drank it in front of the church of St. Stevens which seemed like an odd place to stop for a drink. When the tour ended, the rest of the group left to do their own thing but the guide insisted that the two of us go out for a bite to eat at the butchers shop. He said that when you come to Budapest, you have to eat at one of these places and when we said butcher shop, he meant butcher shop. We walk into this place and there is nothing but raw meat everywhere. He starts talking to the butcher and then the butcher goes to the back and comes out with 2 beers, 3 different kinds of sausages, fresh bread, and 3 different kinds of pickled peppers. I offer to pay the 700 florinths(or about 2.30 dollars) and we eat and drink our beers hanging out at the butchers shop. That is an experience you just can't have on your own.

That night, I met back up with the guys and we went out to one of the famous pedestrian streets in Budapest. They decided to go out and I headed on back to the room for a reasonably early night. Today I am going to see the horror museum which is housed in the old building of the secret police and tells the story of the nazis and communists in Hungary. Afterwards, I think I am going to take a bath at one of the many famous baths dotted around Budapest. Either tomorrow or the next day we are heading up to Bratislava, Slovakia and then more than likely to Krakow, Poland.

*Last Day in Budapest*

I spent my third and last day in Budapest at one of the best museums I have ever been to and then followed it up with one of the biggest parties in all of Europe. A little Ying and Yang if you ask me.

I started off the day wondering around the Buda side of the river with the old church, castle on the hill, and Fishermans Wharf. I never made it up the hill but because I had spent so much time in the Pest side so far, I figure I should at least give Buda a little go. I went back to meet with the roommates and they were thinking about going on a tour but since I had already taken the bike tour yesterday, I decided to again go out on my own and explore. I had heard really good things about a Terror Museum and I decided to check that guy out.

The Terror Museum was one of the best museums I have ever seen. I couldn't even read the half that was in Hungarian and it still holds that distinction in my mind. The terror museum is in the old building used by the Hungarian Nazis and then Communist Secret Police as their headquarters during their occupations. The museum is dedicated to the atrocities that those two groups put the millions of Hungarians through during their reign of terror. The museum is only about 4 years old and it reminds me of a Holocost museum that I went to with my family in WA DC but this one was much more artfully done. Every room had its own color scheme, music, decor, and story to go along with whatever time period/event the room was dedicated to. It is hard to explain without pictures to show you(they won't let you snap photos inside) but it wasn't the classic museum feel. It was almost like you were on a Disneyland ride through this disparaging time in Hungarian history. It obviously isn't quiet like that (no its a small world) but that is the closest thing that I can compare it to so you all have some idea of what I mean when I describe walking from room to room and everyone has a completely different feel. You feel and sense the exhibits as much as read what they have to say. I thought I would spend an hour at this museum and I ended up their for 3 hours and almost wanted to go through it again.

With that said, I had one of the bigger shocks to the system directly after the museum. As I walked back toward the entrance somewhat melancholy after reading about horrible things done to the Hungarians for three hours, I hear the pounding bass of techno music. Well right outside the museum happens to be the biggest yearly parade in Budapest. About 200 thousand people cram the main boulevard that leads to Heroes Square and semi trucks pull their version of floats filled with DJ's, huge speaker systems, and lightly dressed dancing women. It was a party that reminded me of what I have seen of Mardi Gras but without the beads but with much more dancing. The people just cram the streets, wait for a semi truck to pull up with the music blaring and then hold their own little dance party for about 5 minutes till that truck moves on and the next one drives up. It was the craziest parade I have ever seen and a stark contrast to the museum, don't you think?

After the parade past, I met back up with the guys and we went out for a traditional Hungarian meal. I had Goulash, chicken wrapped in bacon, and a sour cherry crepe with my glass of wine for a whole 12 bucks. I love eating in Eastern Europe.

We then went back to the hostel and asked about what was going on tonight and the woman told us of the huge after party for the parade. Evidently, all of the trucks that roll up and down the street represent clubs and these clubs set up a huge dance party at some warehouses out of town. None of us are really big into techno but when you hear that this dance party draws 600 thousand people from all over Europe, you take the time to investigate. We took the subway to the last stop on the line and hopped out with the other people who packed the subway car at 10pm to be immediately washed over by huge base and the rhythmic beat of techno. This dance party was absolutely huge. Three big warehouses, a couple of small ones, and 3 or 4 outdoor tents made this the largest dance party I have ever seen. People came in droves and packed this huge park/industrial complex with, they told us, 600 thousand people. None of us are really into this scene(nor know how to do the crazy glow stick dancing) so we spent most the night watching the other people dance around and make fools of themselves. I have never been to a rave before but this would definitely qualify as my first, and probably last, rave. It was fun but dancing with glow sticks to music that keeps the same pounding beat for 30 minutes straight isn't exactly my idea of a good time. With that said, I was glad I went because I have never seen something like that and if you are going to see it, you might as well see the biggest one in Europe.

Today we are waking up early and heading out to Bratislava, Slovakia to spend a couple of days in the Eastern European town deemed "The New Prague."
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