Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Buda"pesht" Part II


 The one thing that Daniel said he wanted to do while in Budapest was go to Memento Park, basically the burial grounds for all of the old communist statues that were used to inspire Hungarians (to either revolt or give in) back in the Soviet days. It was quite a trek getting there and took us over an hour. We opted to be adventurous and use public transportation, vs shelling out the big bucks for a private coach tour.

First of all, although the buses are functional in Budapest, they lack in beauty and newness. They kind of remind me of prison buses. The bus took us out of the main city and through some pretty run down neighborhoods, which were interesting to see.


Daniel waiting at the bus stop after the park
 Once at the park, Lenin was there to greet us. I had read that the only way to really appreciate the park is to have a private tour guide, which we decided would be worth to have. It was SO informative.
The tour guide taught us so much about Hungary as a satellite soviet state. We learned more about the bullet holes by our hotel room- in 1956, there was political unrest and Hungarians were very unhappy and revolted. Thousands and thousands of people died, but the end of this revolt marked the beginning of Goulash communism- the lesser of two evils. After 1956, Hungarians had it much better than most other communist states. There were some free market principals, people could travel (although this was very expensive and took years to get all of the right paper work in), and human rights were a bit better.






 The tour guide explained all about the symbolism of the statues and how they were used as communist propaganda, where they were placed in Budapest, and how they came down. The trip to the park would have been a waste without her!
 She also shared some of her personal experiences. For example, she had told us that Hungary was one of the only communist states where the civilians could buy a car. However, her family paid for and applied to get one in 1974 and didn't receive it until 1984- and had to pay extra for the inflation!

After our trip to Memento Park, we made our way back to Pest and walked to Hero's Square. Along the way, we came across the Terror Museum. I read that it was pretty disturbing, so we just took pictures and passed by.
Honoring all of the individuals who died due to Nazism and Communism


On the road, we passed gorgeous buildings that were a bit run down, dark, and dingy. We decided they looked like haunted houses. Really cool haunted houses.




Once we made it to Hero's Square, we felt like we were in a fairy tale looking at the buildings behind it. We figured they would fit right in at Disney World (embarrassingly, that is our indication of how cool a building looks- if it could be in Disney World). We deemed these buildings to not only be EPCOT worthy, but to be Magic Kingdom worthy, too. I mean, they are even Disney Princess movie worthy- I could totally see Belle singing from one of those windows.










The most absolutely horrifying statue I have ever seen. I thin the one on the left beats the one on the right
(that we saw in Italy)



Main square of Hero's Square


 The museums in Hero's Square could not have been more gorgeous. Sigh. Take me back there!

After our trip down Hero's Square, we took the tram back over to Buda, to Fisherman's Bastion. The only thing we had planned on doing while in Hungary was to go to a wine cellar for a tasting...and it ended up being our favorite activity (I mean, are you surprised? Anything involving wine and we are happy!).

But first, in typical Bond vacation fashion, we had to take lots of steps. Every EU vacation we have been on so far has involved us walking up more stairs than we would like...so thankful to be healthy!

The road is just a break in the steps. 
The wine cellar, called Faust, was several centuries old and was once a wine cellar for Dominican monks. It was soooo spooky getting to the wine cellar. We had to go down several flights of cold, dark, rocky stairs.

We made it without getting murdered!
This was a stuffed man on the way to the cellar. It totally spooked me. I might have jumped. Daniel being a goofball.





This was just SUCH a cool experience. The wines were delicious and unlike any wine we had ever tried before. I am so angry at myself for not buying any bottles- I am contacting the cellar in hopes that they can ship us some. The tastings were more generous than I am used to with wine tasting- probably 4 oz pours. The sommelier taught us about each wine, the maker, where it is from, and what not. They were all Hungarian wines and hard to find (only about 200-1000 bottles made). At the end, I tried a Polinka- another Hungarian spirit. It was MUCH Tastier than the Unicum. It's a clear and rather strong liquor made from fruits- I had an elder flower one. I saw the same bottle later on in our trip and went to buy it, but it was over $100. I liked it, but not that much!


After the tasting, we walked around and then had an early night. Budapest was made to be seen at night- everything was beautifully lit up. I wish we had had time to take a night river cruise!


The next day was our last. We went to the market, and then took the bus back to the airport.

We loved Budapest and are so glad that we got to go. I say this about every city we have gone to so far, but it was one of my favorites!

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