The House of Terror Museum is located at 60 Andrassy street Budapest in an unobtrusive renaissance style building that was the former headquarters of both the Hungarian Nazi Party and later the Hungarian Secret Police. The Museum serves as a unique reminder of the 50 years that preceded the political transition of 1989. During this period, the Hungarian people suffered at the hands of two terror regimes.
It was a strangely horrific feeling to be in the actual building where Nazis and Communists committed atrocities on their citizens. Inside the Museum, a soviet tank from the 1956 uprising bore silent witness. An especially haunting exhibit displayed the Nazi and Soviet atrocities as a duality and perhaps provided a glimpse into the psych, history, resilience and character of the Hungarian people.
We had been had been told by other cyclists we met on the road that the best place to camp in Budapest was the Bikercamp in District 7. Its close to the city and only allows Motorcyclists and Cyclists to pitch their tents there, and they were right. We shared a safe suburban backyard with about 20 assorted two wheeled travellers from around the world.
For the next 3 days we didn’t cycle much, relying instead on the cheap and frequent public transport or shanks pony (walking). The Budapest subway system rivals that of London’s and is easy to navigate, however things started to unravel when we attempted to purchase tickets traveling west back towards Austria and Germany as we have decided to cycle through Belgium and France on our way to England and Ireland.
We queued patiently at one ticket office, waiting for our number to be called only to be told by the bored looking elderly ticket window clerk that we needed to present at another ticket window downstairs. Downstairs another older clerk told us to go back upstairs.
After being asked to attend a third and as yet unknown ticket window, I was forced to take action. I approached a young English speaking railways employee named Willy and explained my predicament. “Fucking Communists!” he said. Then we went downstairs together and the young man exchanged a few words with said bored clerk and bingo tickets purchased. My new friend explained that you can’t trust the old people they are tainted by the old regime. It seems there may be a real political and generational gap here in Hungary. Anyway Willy was happy we were Australian because he’s a big fan of Parkway Drive. I pretended I knew their music well.
Budapest is an attractive city, with a variety of beautiful architecture and abundant classical sculptures adorning buildings, in parks and fountains. It’s obvious that the Soviet era, heroic worker type sculptures have been systematically replaced with more accessible and tactile sculptures and art celebrating the everyday.
Traveling through Hungary, then taking a tour of the famous sites here in Budapest has me thinking that Game of Thrones is like a children’s pantomime when compared to the real Hungarian experience. It’s been invaded and occupied by pretty well everybody, lost half its territory, fought many times amongst themselves and appear to have managed to maintain a proud history. But then again, what do I know I’m just another western tourist passing through.
We ate all the famous Hungarian dishes and had fun. It’s been unseasonably hot and Budapest has shown itself to us as an earthy sensual whimsical city with a edgy urban lifestyle. Where else might you find a Cat cafe, where you can go to show off your pussy?