It's about time for an interim report (so no pics!) from Budapest, I guess, especially since I'll be back home in less than 24 hours. Even though I've been here before, this is the first blog post about Budapest because last time was in February last year, i.e. a little while BCBE (Before Chris' Blogging Era).
To start with, the hotel is very recommendable; it's a smallish place in Bauhaus style with very attentive staff. But the best thing is that they didn't have broadband internet in the room they put me in first, so they ended up giving me the Ambassador Suite instead, no less. Now I am essentially living in a four room appartment ... nice! And very handy, too because I could do the interview that I gave to BBJ in the office.
What else? Well, I went to the House of Terror yesterday. This is not an amusement ride at all - it is a very effectively done museum about the terror of the communist era dictatorship, located in the former headquarter of state security. This place is truly terrifying and strongly recommended for every Budapest visitor. Just don't expect to be entertained. Most impressive were the slow descent to the cellar dungeons in a darkened escalator with a video narration about the execution procedure, and a room full of portraits of people who held positions of responsability during the era, many of whom are evidently still alive, and some of them even appear to be MPs. That obviously poses tough questions to Hungarian politics and is the reason why the museum is a political statement in its own right.
To complement my dosage of totalitarian history, I went to Szoborpark today. This is the place where the Hungarians have deposited a lot of their disused communist monumental statues. It's way out in the countryside, and it's well & truly the scrapheap of history, if ever there was one. The experience is quite worth while.
To compensate for the solidly bad impression of Russian influence on Hungary that I got, I treated myself to a fabulous ballet version of Tchaikovsky's Onegin in the sumptuous State Opera House tonight. Other than last time's (this seems to become a tradition fast) rather modernistic interpretation of Mozart's Magic Flute, tonight was a thoroughly classic one, complete with period costumes and all. Both were memorable experiences, for the standard of the performance as well as for the setting and the excited audience which obviously still loves to dress up rather formally for the occasion, and has a strange habit of clapping rhythmically.
Stand by for the final report about tomorrow's projects, complete with some pictures...