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Getting off the beaten track

Monday, October 15th, 2007

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We were certainly ready to get somewhere that wasn’t as touristy as Prague, so we headed to Budapest. a day earlier than planned. To get there, however, we had to take 9 hour overnight train from Prague. The coachettes that you reserve on the train is a little room with 6 small bunks stacked rather snuggly on top of one another. The train provides you with sheets, blankets and pillows so its actually quite nice. The only gamble is who else rooms with you in your coachette and if it will be full of six people or not. We were very happy to see that we only had to share the coachette with one other girl and she just happened to be an American from L.A.-of all places. We had a great time sharing stories and since she had just been to Africa and climbed Mt. Kilimjaro, we got some good first hand info on the place. The only downside in doing an overnighter on the train though is that in the middle of the night when crossing Hungary’s border, we had the boarder patrol guard banging on our cabin wanting to see our passports. Quite a sight, me standing there in my boxers giving the boarder guards our passports to get stamped. Christy, all snug in her bed had a good laugh and was as happy as could be since she has some crazy obsession with getting as many stamps in her passport as possible. She quickly grabs the passport flips through the pages to find the new one and then critiques how nice or ugly the country’s stamp is. Its good comedy watching her do this.

Budapest is a great city, lots of history, beautiful buildings and good cheap food. The popular activity here for locals and tourists is go to one of the many outdoor thermal baths and soak in the hot water. Its basically a huge swimming pool sourounded by gorgeous buildings and architechture. We chose the coed baths so we could swim together and also because the idea of sitting in a huge bath with a bunch of hungarian men didnt sound too appealing to me. It was awesome relaxing in the hot water, soothing our aching feet from walking so much and watching all the locals do their thing. We especially liked wathcing the guys hitting on the girls. Since there is no alcohol allowed at the baths, you really got to see some bad pick up attempts.

Of course we had to go to the Terror Museum and learn about the history of Hungary, especially the history of the secret police and communism. Once again, we left the museum just blown away by what Hungarians have been through for the past sixty plus years.  First, they were able to fight off the Germans until 1945, but then nazism took over.  Persecution of not only Jews, but other minorities, homosexuals, religious people, and the like began.  People were tried for crimes they did not commit, sentenced and executed.  This happened to millions of people.  Then after Hungary was liberated by the Soviets, and within 2 years are being persecuted again in almost the exact same way by communism. It was amazing. and so sad.  This went on until the early 90’s when they finally gained their independence.  In fact, the last prisoner of war was returned to Hungary from the Soviet Union in 2000.  Incredible. 

Tonight we will be going to the Grand Opera House to watch a philharmonic orchestra. We got the history lesson so now we needed a little culture. A little culture never hurt anyone especially when it only costs 4 dollars a ticket.