Budapest…my first impression was quite rough…CRAZY DRIVERS!!! I’m glad we’ve parked the car and won’t use it until we leave for Poland…But honestly, my 1st impression was not so positive…maybe because sooo many people talked it up before I came…or maybe I had preconceived notions of it…But mainly because we had been traveling the last couple of weeks in places that we very quiet and the pace was slower…Budapest is a huge city…actually it is two cities separated by the Danube River, Buda and Pest….we are staying in Buda which is considered the quieter and quainter side…at least in the castle district…which is directly up the hill from our hotel…up…up and up…it was quiet and quaint the day we arrived, but the next day it was teeming with tour buses with every retired person from most of Europe and America. I spent most of my time in Pest. It has the Government, many museums and shopping as well as my favorite, the Cemetery…but that cemetery is a hike…one which I dutifully did…but most of my time was spent just wandering and trying to get a feel the city…sitting in cafes and coffee houses and trying(but not always succeeding) to talk to people…the Hungarian people are not the friendliest…they are actually quite standoffish…most of the people I spoke to were foreigners who either lived here or were also traveling…I met a Frenchman today while I ate in this wonderful Coffee house that Tucker and I discovered yesterday…this man gave me a bit of the back history on the Hungarian people and why they are not forthcoming in smiles and such…I got the rest while Tucker and I visited a place called(believe it or not) “The House of Terror”…it is a horrible place that the Nazi’s and then the Soviets used as their base to interrogate, in prison, torture and in many cases execute people…the building has been made into a museum …I had no idea what life was like under the Soviets. It was horrendous…horrible…I lived most of my young and young adult life knowing about the Iron curtain and that it was bad but until I actually saw what they did, I never fully gripped the horrors…no wonder the Hungarian people are distrustful…we helped hand them over to their torturers after WWII and left them…

But besides the historical(and there is a lot) aspect of Budapest, there are also wonderful sights to see and things to do…architecture is one of them…the buildings are marvelous…and the juxtaposition of the old beautiful buildings next to the Soviet boxy buildings is amazing…the shopping is price but the window shopping is fun…actually there are a few good buys, like Pashminas…and such…As I said this is a huge city with many areas to walk…I hiked up Gellert Hill . There’s a story there But not one for this blog. We even broke my rule of no American food…by actually eating at a McDonalds…yes, I know…but it was the first capitalist venue to open under Soviet rule( so an actual tourist site)…and it’s decor is really cool and deco..,and we were in a big hurry(service is not known to be speedy here)to catch a concert in the Mathias Church in Buda…sung by non other than my Alma Mater, FSU!!! They were great…after the concert some nut tried to climb the steeple..and he succeeded…only to end up in police custody…although it was quite a thing to watch…at first we thought he was a jumper…glad to say, he was just a nut…I just hope he wasn’t a nut from FSU Clown school…we don’t need to give the Hungarians any other reason not to like us!

In all I can honestly say that my first impression of Budapest was completely and totally wrong…Budapest is a fabulous city with great things to offer…I can highly recommend a visit…but I think a week is better than a few days…even though everyone who comes here seems to come for 2-3 days…… off to Krakow tomorrow…

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