Here we are – all done with Budapest. Did the obligatory Hop On Hop Off bus tour, visited the House of Terror (no time to explain – Hungarian Nazi and communist regimes), saw the castle (hey, remember when I said the hilly side of Prague was west of the river and the flat side was east of the river? Well, same same in Budapest – Buda=west=hilly, Pest=east=flat. Funny, huh.), climbed the 302 steps to the top of Saint Stefan Basilica (only church where Jesus is not the figure on the alter – it is Saint Stefan), saw Saint Stefan’s right hand – literally, ate in the Jewish quarter and saw a very unique musical duo, saw the Parliament Buildings, witnessed the most boring job in the world, saw the memorial to the Soviet Union, saw the memorial to General Bandholtz, shook hands with the star of Bedtime with Bonzo, saw a unique cafe/bar, traveled on the first metro on the continent, rubbed a belly, ate incredible ice cream, went aaawww, saw shoes, and finally, slept.
Here we go.
This is Saint Stefan. He founded what was to become Hungary roughly 1100 years ago. He was made a saint when, after 20 years of being dead, his body was exhumed by his son and found to be naturally mummified and still entirely intact. Naturally, his body was cut up into parts and spread across the world – and why wouldn’t it. Luckily, the Magyars kept his right hand for future display.
Here’s that hand
From the top of Saint Stefan’s Basilica you get some fantastic views of Budapest. You also get a pretty cool look down.
So dinner in the Jewish Quarter. There are many many little restaurants and bars in the jewish Quarter. Although we didn’t visit one, they have “ruin bars” which are bars which popped up in the squares or courtyards of buildings which had been condemned over the years. They used to be very cheap, but as tourists moved in, locals moved out, prices went up – well, you know the story.
Anyway, we had dinner at Trattoria Gozsdu after being “pulled in” by a young woman who promised very good Italian food. She was right – the meal was fantastic, plus we met our first pleasant Hungarian. He was delightful. The best part though was when these two guys showed up to play. I’m sorry the photo didn’t turn out. There was a heat lamp on which totally skewed my iPhone camera. The two of them looked like they had just come from the gym. Big thighs, big biceps and lots of tats.
Then they started to play and sing.
Yes, we were pretty surprised too. They continued on in this vein for the rest of the time we were there. It was great fun.
The Hungarian Parliament Buildings are huge. They were built before Hungary lost two-thirds of its territory and people at the end of the First World War. It was built to mimic Westminster Buildings in London.
In front of the buildings is the national flag and pole. At the base of it are two soldiers who march in tandem around it.
We also saw the memorial to the Soviet Union erected by the communists in honour of the Soviet Union prior to the collapse of communism. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for it still to be here since the Hungarians hate the Soviets. There is a rumour the Russians own the ground it is on, so it can’t be officially removed.
Just down the road was a memorial to U.S. General Harry Bandholtz. After the First World War, the Romanians were all set to plunder the Hungarian treasury and remove all the gold. General Bandholtz took a half dozen soldiers over to the entrance to the treasury and essentially said “No, it will not happen.” They built this to honour him – apparently this was the pose he struck at the door.
I got to meet my cinematic and political hero – the star of Bedtime with Bonzo
We travelled on the oldest metro on the continent. Many of the stations are still original from 1896 when it was built. 1896 was the celebration of their millennium as a nation – remember old Saint Stefan?
Terry met an old time policeman.
Had some uniquely created ice cream
We came across the model for RCA Victor’s “His Master’s Voice”
We found another Toni and Guy for cool haircuts and colouring – just for you Mary
On a much more sombre note, we saw a memorial to some of the Jewish people in Budapest. Toward the end of the war, the Russians were advancing and the Nazis realised that the mass deportation of the Jews was not going to be effective. Instead, they took them down to the banks of the Danube and shot them, pushing their bodies into the river.
And so we return to the far, far less serious.
By the time we got to the Budapest Airport on Thursday morning, we – well, one of us, were tuckered right out.
Next up: Berlin