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The Ghosts of Budapest Past

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"Wars teach us not to love our enemies, but to hate our allies." - W. L. George

Foodie moment

After our epic walking tour, our guide recommended a local restaurant where we could get an authentic Hungarian lunch set menu. For 10 Euro we got to try traditional Goulash Soup, Paprika Chicken with dumplings and local beer. It was all really nice, and the strange tiny dumplings are starting to grow on me!


Cultural moment

Apparently drinking in public places in illegal in Budapest, but this doesn't seem to be upheld at all. As seen on a Thursday night in the central square of the city, every spare bench and square of grass has a group of young people sitting on it with bottles of vodka or wine and plastic cups. This seems like a completely normal thing to do on each warm weekend night.


Wow moment

Today we visited the Opera House of Budapest. Apparently the architect was told they were not allowed to make it as impressive and grand looking as the famous opera house in Vienna (part of the same kingdom at the time), so he begrudgingly did this on the outside but considering he was given no restrictions on how the inside should look he made it considerably more opulent and beautiful than its Viennese counterpart.


We also hiked up the hill in Buda to visit the castle/palace. This is in fact a former palace, and is not showing any of its former glory. This is because during WW2 it was completely destroyed, after WW2 Budapest was under Soviet rule so it was rebuilt it in typical soviet style...boring!


The chain bridge was the first bridge to cross the Danube between Buda and Pest. Before it was built the only way to cross between the two sides of the city was by boat, or by foot when the river was frozen, but don't get stuck on the wrong side when it melted or you could get stuck for a long time!


When I spotted a flyer for a ghost tour, I jumped at an opportunity to make up to Mark for the failings of Dracula's castle. We knew we were in for an experience when we first spotted our guide, a man dressed in a black hooded cloak with his face painted white standing frozen staring creepily at passers by. What followed was a walking tour filled with very entertaining stories, with some occasional jumpy moments. Did he use cheap tricks to make us scream (like speaking in a whisper then shouting at the climax of the story)? Yes, he did. Were his stories true? Most likely not entirely honest. Was it a fun way to spend a night? Sure was. Mark got some special treatment during one of the stories were about the curse the witches put on anyone who built on the hill of Buda ("Don't build on the hill! We will crush you, We will crush you!!!!). No Hungarian's ever have built there, but the Austrian empire did, and the soviets did too, and as our guide said "Where are they now?".


What we learnt today

Firstly, one of the most interesting facts was that all tourist attractions and monuments in Budapest are rebuilt replicas of the original monuments, this is because Budapest was basically flattened by Allied bombing during WW2.


Budapest is split through the middle by the famous river Danube. On one side of the river is the hilly Buda side, which was often seen as the more wealthy side. The flat side of the river is called Pest, and was generally the place for trading, and therefore more working class. Not sure if these divisions are still true, but people certainly do make a big deal of being from Buda rather than Pest.


Hungary has had a pretty bad run of it as a country, and most of their problems have been due to aligning themselves with the wrong people/countries. In WW1 they were part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, therefore aligning themselves with the Germans. Later in their history, they accepted the offer of help from the leader of Germany, otherwise known as Adolf Hitler, to help get back some of their power and lost territories. This was all good, until the favour was called back in and they were once again aligned with Germany in a World War.

Posted by travellinglise 10:30 Archived in Hungary Tagged budapest

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