December 30, 2013
After the late night, Aliyya and I slept in for quite sometime and when we got up our hosts, Zoltan and Ildiko had breakfast ready to cook for us. Ildiko made the biggest omelets ever for both of us and they had made some fresh apple juice that morning. I love apple juice and I have never had freshly squeezed apple juice and, boy, was it delicious. The thing is, I am not used to having huge breakfasts, so I could barely finish it all and they were saying that we weren't eating a lot and we explained that in Spain, the breakfasts aren't that big. Funny enough, the next day we literally got what I would consider a Spanish breakfast. It was really funny. Anyway, after breakfast, Zoltan sat down and showed us a map of the city center and taught us how to get around. They live about a half hour train ride to the city so he took us to the train station and bought our departure and return tickets for us since we don't speak Hungarian. However, we did ask how to say things like hello, please, thank you (szia, kérem, köszönöm). And that's about all I could remember. Also, did you know that the "s" in Hungarian makes an "sh" sound? So Budapest is pronounced Budapesht. Also, Buda is on one side of the river, Pest is on the other side. The two sides united in 1873.
Anyway, Aliyya and I ventured into the city and we were going to meet up for a free walking tour. While waiting for the tour to start, we decided to try some mulled wine (forralt bor). We were there for the first part of the tour, but then decided to ditch the tour and go to a museum because we could do the museum on New Year's Eve, whereas the museum was going to be closed the next day. So we postponed the tour and went instead to the House of Terror (Terror Háza). The House of Terror is a museum that has exhibits dealing with the fascist and communist groups that occupied Hungary throughout the 20th century. Even after going to the museum and talking with Zoltan about Hungarian history, the whole thing is still quite confusing. They've had a lot of people invade their country. I am not even going to try and explain it all here, because I still don't understand the timeline of it all and to be honest, I really didn't like the museum. It was a self guided museum that had a long essay to read in practically every room. It was so much information at once and I really don't enjoy reading. Plus they had a lot of displays, but then had no plate or sign next to the object saying what it was or anything. We still went through the whole thing and spend quite a bit of time there, but, like I said, I am still confused by it all even though the museum should have clarified things for me. I can tell you that the actual building that the museum is located in was the headquarters for the secret police for both the Nazi and communist governments. A lot of people were questioned, jailed, tortured, and killed in that building and they did have a nice memorial for the victims and they also had a wall showing all of the victimizers, which was really interesting especially because it's the last thing you see in the whole exhibit. I think I would have "enjoyed" it more had I known more about the Hungarian history going into the museum.
By the way, did I mention that I forgot my camera on this day in Budapest. Luckily, I had an SD card in my purse and Aliyya let me use her camera to take photos. Whew. Thanks again, Aliyya! Anyway, after the museum, we decided to explore the Buda side, specifically Castle Hill at night. We crossed Chain Bridge, the first permanent bridge connecting the two sides, over the Danube to get to the Buda side and then we hiked up the hill to go to a labyrinth that is connected to Buda Castle.
|Chain Bridge with Buda Castle in the background|
You can go into the labyrinth during the day, but if you go at night, you get a lantern, which is a lot more fun and scary! The labyrinth of the castle was used for many things in the past: wine cellar, jails, torture chambers, treasury, shelter, and a military hospital. It was really cool to explore by night, but seriously it was terrifying. My dad definitely would have screamed and I would have jumped out of my skin if he were there. At one point, I thought I saw a person sitting on the ground but I walked the other direction and didn't look back! Also, the tomb of Dracula is in their, which is really creepy! It's not really the real tomb, I don't think, ha, but to be honest, I didn't even know Dracula was a real person. Well he's kind of real. His name is Vlad Țepeș, also known as Vlad the Impaler, and Count Dracula is inspired by this guy. Look him up, he's an interesting character to say the least. It seems like he could be in an episode of Criminal Minds.
|In the labyrinth|
|Me with the Danube and Parliament in the background|
|St. Steven's Cathedral|
|Matthias Church = Fairy tale castle (I think)|
|In front of Chain Bridge|