Saturday, April 20, 2013

Day 2 in Budapest, House of Terror Museum & Communist Walk

I woke up around 8 am to the sound of a hostel mate from Korea taking a shower and preparing to leave the hostel.  I stayed in bed for awhile, I really needed to use the bathroom, but the hostel mate was in there for what seemed to be an eternity, first showering, then blow drying her hair, and whatever else one does in the bathroom. 

I stayed in the bed waiting for a break to  run into the bathroom, finally she came out, she looked at me and asked, do you need? I could tell she was getting ready to go back into the bathroom, I answered her, yes I need.  I used the bathroom and climbed back onto the my bed on the top bunk.  By that point, my other hostel mates were awake, I could tell one was waiting on the bathroom and hoping I wasn't going to occupy it after the Korean. 

I got back in the bed but didn't sleep, I read about Budapest on my Kindle and planned my day while I waited for my other hostel mates to get dressed and leave, I wasn't in a big rush.  I got up when my hostel mates from Ireland left the room, got dressed, and went down for breakfast. 

After breakfast I spent some time research Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate courses, I plan to start a TEFL course this summer and begin a career teaching English in Europe. I left the hostel at around 11 am to begin a long day of walking around Budapest.  
My first destination was the House of Terror, the former headquarters of the Hungarian Nazis and the Communist Secret Police, the AVO. The  house of terror exhibits explain the history of Nazi and Sovieet occupation of Hungary and the tactics used by the secret police to intimidate citizens.  The house of terror has reconstructed cells of the places prisoners were held during the Nazi and Soviet regimes.  
Lynnae in front of House of Terror 
After the House of Terror, I walked to Hero's Square. Hero's square was built in to mark the 1000th anniversary of the Magyar conquest in 1896, according to the Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget. I walked around the park near Hero's Square, a group of Spanish speaking tourists asked me to take pictures of them, the men with their shirts off, there were a couple of women in the group. I did not spend too much time in Hero's Square, I had planned to go on the Communist walking tour, and was considering visiting the great Synagogue.  I wanted to be sure I had enough time to get to my destinations.

Lynnae at Hero's Square
I skipped the Great Synagogue, the biggest Synagogue in Europe, the Rough Guide to Europe says more than 2000 people who died between 1944 and 1945 are buried in the Synagogue's courtyard. The Synagogue also has a garden of remembered named after the Swedish diplomat Raoul wallenberg who rescued many Jews during WWII. I did not make it to the Synagogue, later someone told me it is Shabbat, the Synagogue was closed today. 

The Communist walking tour began at 3:30 pm, I found the meeting spot, had to ask for directions a couple of time but finally found the tour guides.  I had been walking all day at the point and was tired, I debated whether  I wanted to go on another walking tour, I decided to go for it, I am only in Budapest a couple of days.  I got to the meeting point for the tour about 10 minutes early, I was happy, gave me a chance to sit down and rest my tired feet.  

The Communist tour was outstanding, our guides were Budapest natives and gave us the unvarnished truth about Communism in Hungary and the state of present day Hungary.  I was tired, we had plenty of opportunities to sit down and take a break while the guides talked to us about  the history of communism in Budapest. We went past a former Nuclear Bunker for Budapest's military leaders, our guide said the bunker was classified until a few years ago.  We asked how could something out in the open be kept a secret, they said nobody knew what was going on down there, the people were told it was a ventilation area for the subway. 

Lynnae at Nuclear Bunker
We walked past a Soviet monument, steps from the US Embassy in Budapest.  The monument honors the Soviet soldiers who died during the liberation of Budapest.  Behind the  Soviet Monument is a Statue of Ronald Reagan.   Our tour ended with an exhibition at a local bar of former Soviet Relics, I have seen some of  these before, in Prague and Berlin.

Lynnae at the Soviet Monument in Freedom Square 
Lynnae and the Ronald Reagan Statue in Freedom Square
After the Communist tour I returned to the hostel, got dinner, a pizza from an outdoor Hungarian restaurant in the middle of the city.  The ambiance was nice for my dinner but the pizza was not, I ordered the Margarita pizza, it was served with little sauce, some cheese and a few tomatoes.  When I asked the Hungarian waiter for a side of marinara sauce, he did not understand, he asked do you want ketchup, barbecue sauce, whatever you would like.  I tried to explain to the waiter what I wanted, I eventually ended up with a bottle of ketchup on my table. I returned to my hostel, spent some time on my  computer and now it is time to go upstairs, and get ready for my early morning train ride to Zagreb, Croatia. 

Day 2 in Budapest Photo Album

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