Sunday, April 4, 2010

Budapest was Buda-ful

Day #1:

Budapest really surprised me. It’s beautiful, but it isn’t quintessentially beautiful. The skies aren’t the bluest, the buildings aren’t the most well kept, and the people are most certainly not the happiest people on Earth. But Budapest is beautiful because it isn’t and doesn’t have any of this. It’s very eerie actually. It’s dark and it’s old and it’s a little bit sad. I mean…I know there are a lot of “old” cities in the world, but this one feels old. The way people dress, the way store shop windows are arranged, all of it just screams “old”. I don’t understand why, but the city feels stuck.

Day #2:

The House of Terror explained everything.

“The ‘House of Terror’ is a museum now, but it was witness to two shameful and tragic periods in Hungary’s 20th century history. It truly was a house of terror.

In 1944, during the gruesome domination of the Hungarian Arrow Cross Party, this building, known as the “House of Loyalty”, was the party headquarters of the Hungarian Nazis. Then between 1945 and 1956, the notorious communist terror organizations, the AVO and its successor, the AVH, took up residence here. 60 Andrassy Boulevard has become the house of terror and dread.

This museum commemorates the victims of terror, but it is also a memento, reminding us of the dreadful acts of terrorist dictatorships.”

Someone really did a wonderful job designing this museum. Each floor is set up like a spiral, so you begin on the outside and work your way to the center, collapsing in on yourself. And the aesthetic (music, room design, pictures, etc.) is very…haunting. From what I have come to understand, this country was pretty much man-handled (for lack of a better word) by the Soviets and the Nazis. Now, I know that many eastern European countries were severely impacted by the same occupations, but you don’t really ever hear about Hungary, and…well…you probably should.

Train ride to Vienna:

I still can’t get over how beautiful Budapest was. It was so surprising, and I’m going to miss it. I think it’s one of those cities I’m going to want to see in 20 years, just to see how it’s changed. I’m glad I didn’t go in with any expectations for this part of the trip. It made the experience that much more enjoyable and satisfying.

This trip is going by quickly. I need to just keep my wits about me. And I need to remain flexible and not take what goes on too seriously because if I do, who knows how this trip will end up.

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