Our little fortress, Bigwig.

Trip Start Apr 10, 2010
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Trip End Apr 10, 2011


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Flag of Hungary  ,
Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Our very shifty park place saw us though the night, despite the fact that Jena kept being woken up with people outside. The day was really sunny and hot and we had driven into a town called Komarom to see this giant fortress they had there. It was set upon the edge of the Danube and overlooked the border to Slovakia across the river. The complex was enormous and most of it was underground. We joined a Hungarian tour group as they explored the underground complex. No lights or electricity, in fact they encourage visitors to bring a flashlight. It was very creepy in some of the rooms with some having etchings on the wall marking out weeks, like prisoners had been kept there. Later when reading our guide we came to learn that this fort, Monostori-Erod, was in fact a prison complex in WW2 for collecting Jews and Gypsies to send them away to camps. Very chilling.
A whole section of the fort had been sectioned off and men with walkie talkies were stopping and starting people from walking. Turns out there was some medieval movie being shot inside the barracks. Silly Hungarians, this fort was built in 1850. Hardly medieval.. Still, there were knights and horses running around.
This fortress is the largest in all of central Europe, with a 70 hectare courtyard. It has seen many bloody battles too, and always fended away the enemy. It is still considered, even in our modern-day to be an impenetrable fortress.

We wish the same could be said for Bigwig though. When we returned to the van, as it was a hot day, Joel began to open up all the doors finding that the passenger door had been compromised by villains!
The key hole had been stripped, and even had a snapped of piece of metal inside, some kind of makeshift key remained embedded in the lock.
Looking inside, we quickly realized that no one had gotten in, as all our possessions remained. Including, most importantly our laptop which was under the seat just inside where the bandit was tampering. HAHA Bigwig was an impenetrable fortress!
A lesson can be learned from all this. We could have lost a lot today. It must have been our shrine of protection. Perhaps our Viking dragon head? That seems to be his job. And a job well done!

A little bummed by such foul villainy in Komerom we decided that we wouldn't wait till the next day to see Budapest, but rather that we could spend the evening there.
This time we didn’t have any kind of map to guide us. All we knew was that we needed to park near the river, especially the 'Chain bridge’. We got foiled though by traffic works and got flung into who knows where. Suddenly on some sort of chance we popped up in the centre again to snag what could be the best park in old town, right on the edge of the park.

Budapest straight away came into its own. On the way in we were confronted by the same masses of ugly soviet eyesore buildings, but when we got inside it was beautiful. Very extravagant buildings like Prague, but there weren’t souvenir shops every second shop.
Our first port of call was the St. Stephen’s basilica that had a wonderful dome which inside was supported by the most decadent arches of polished marble and gold. Just seeing inside was like a punch in the face. Jena was dressed inappropriately Australian and was forced to wear a shawl to cover her shoulders by the deacon fellow.
Up in the Buda castle district we got thrilling views on the old town across the Danube, including the magnificent gothic parliament building! There too was an awesome castle and the Matthias church which had wonderfully patterned roof tiles.

We really liked Budapest and think it would be great to spend several days to absorb, but as we are such impatient souls we drove out on a southern course for Croatia. Budapest was a great finale to our central Europe route. But we really miss the ocean!
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