We woke up with high hopes and extensive plans for our only full day in Budapest, yet the weather, once again, forced us to adapt. Originally, we were to go across the chain bridge, head to the “Fisherman’s Bastion”, then to the citadel and “Liberty Statue”, before ending up at “Budapest Castle”. Now, Jacob and I stem from the English countryside, so let it be known that we are not shy of a spot of wind and rain, but trekking miles in torrential downpour soon lost its appeal, and with the wind battering the umbrellas of the locals, we swiftly decided to head somewhere with a roof over our heads.
Hunger struck as we ducked for cover, and we stopped at the first place that looked appealing – “Hummusbar”. From what I could gather, they started as a small kiosk in 2005, and now have 15 sites across Budapest dedicated to making healthy and fresh falafel, hummus, and salads; you also get 10% student discount, which is an added bonus. Their menu is extensive, and as a big fan of Middle Eastern food, I was very happy to see that pitta and hummus comes with nearly every meal; Jacob opted for lamb and beef patties, and I got a chicken shawarma, both of which cost a petty HUF. 1690. It seems most places in Buda have their own in-house lemonades and Hummusbar is no exception; it was full of fruit, refreshing, and zingy, and I wish that the UK adopted the same attitude instead of stocking up on Sprite.
The food was really tasty, and I was impressed with the quality at such an astoundingly low price, so if you’re looking for a cheap and healthy snack, don’t hesitate to pop in! Jacob pulled out his map and decided that “The House of Terror” had potential for interesting history, so we paid our bill and braved the rain once more.
Queues. Us Brits are apparently in love with them, but that would make Jacob and I both anomalies to the trend; our intention was to get out of being soaked, not stand outside for 45 minutes listening to an obnoxiously loud security guard bark orders in the rain, but we decided we may as well wait as we hadn’t anything else to do. After a while, the queue began to move, and we were soon inside trying to pay for our tickets with a horrendously bad-mannered member of staff, wondering why on Earth we’d put ourselves through such an ordeal just to be treated like shit. You also can’t take photos there, which always gets on my nerves. Luckily, however, the museum itself is one of the best I’ve been to, aside from it being far too busy (seriously, some of the exhibits were so crammed that we had to wait for half an hour in a tiny room before enough people had moved onto the next).
The building itself was revealed to have been used by the “Arrow cross” party and the AVH, so you’re struck with a chilling thought, as you enter the reconstructed prison cells, that these were rooms of torture, death, and inhuman cruelty. There are a vast number of exhibits, but those cells will stay with me as long as I live; they were creative in their horror, with water cells, fox holes, electrocution chambers, confinement cells, and all manner of other atrocities lined up one by one. Another one that struck me was the “Gulag”, wherein I learnt that Hungary’s populace was abducted in waves by the Soviet Forces and forced to work, often until death, in labour camps rife with brutality.
In addition, the rigged election of the fifties, wherein the communist regime declared 700,000 votes void and ran a campaign of intimidation to secure their leadership, was something I was previously unaware of; I had not realised the extent to which Hungarian people were forced to live in such constant fear, with perpetual terrorising and assassinations part of every day life.
We spent a good few hours here, and although it was incredibly interesting and thought provoking, the staff really are fucking horrible, so be aware of that should you visit. Afterwards, I popped into a bookstore to get something juicy for the train (I’ve finished “The Man in the High Castle and written a review you can read – here), then we had a little snack for dinner and packed our bags, ready for our 6 hour train journey to Zagreb. If any of you have been, we’d love to know your recommendations, as we’re only there for one day!