Our Hungarian Adventure

The Great Synagogue on Doheny Street in Budapest, Hungary

The Great Synagogue on Doheny Street in Budapest, Hungary

I took a risk with this part of the vacation and exchanged a timeshare week for one in Keszthenly, Hungary. The “resort” was advertised to be close to Lake Balaton so I assumed (which is not a good way to process information) that is was a lakeside resort. It was also advertised as a one-bedroom unit with privacy for four.

Upon entering the unit, I thought I had stepped back in time to the early 1950s, when the country was part of the Soviet Union. Gray-green paint with plain and dated furnishings served as our living quarters. The bedroom was situated so that we had to go through the living room to get to it; meaning the couple in the living room definitely did not have privacy. The lake was several miles away. The lovely restaurant advertised as a way to “relax after a day of site seeing” was extremely cheap but you get what you pay for. Everyone’s meal but mine was a heated up frozen dinner. I got lucky because I ordered a salad.

It was decided that a week there was no holiday, so we checked out the next morning and headed for Budapest. The hotel I chose was located in the “Castle district,” a very apt description and came a grand view of the Danube River. Hungary is in a state of transition and has some very beautiful buildings. Sometimes these structures are next to some very plain or downright ugly structures but it seems the people are trying to remedy that situation. Except for two desk clerks, ALL of the people we encountered everywhere in Hungary were friendly and willing to do whatever they could to help us, despite challenging language barriers.

The "Castle District" of Budapest, Hungary

The “Castle District” of Budapest, Hungary

There is a saying, “All roads in Hungary lead to Budapest,” and I think that is accurate. There do not seem to be multiple large towns to explore unless you are more adventuresome than me.

A view from the Castle District of Budapest of the suberbs

A view from the Castle District of Budapest of the surrounding area

We had an absolutely wonderful meal of goulash soup and cucumber salad with an assortment of local desserts. A tour of the Great Synagogue was my first time in an actual Jewish place of worship. The guide carefully explained aspects of Judaism worship as well as the history of the area. The synagogue was part of the Budapest Ghetto during the war. In fact 10,000 people died here from disease and living conditions. They are buried next to the place of worship, which is uncommon in the Jewish faith.

Authentic Hungarian Goulash

Authentic Hungarian Goulash

Hungary is part of the European Union but has not converted to the Euro. They will take Euros in many places but you will probably get change in Forints, their country currency. Forints are most often expressed in forms of 1000 so at first the prices seem to very expensive until you realize that 220 Forints equal about $1.00.

Another lesson learned was that Hungary and Austria have a different way to collect highway tolls. You must purchase a “Vignette” before traveling on any of their major roads. In Austria this was a sticker and in Hungary, they registered your license plate online. Failure to do this will result in a large fine.

Failure to put enough money into a parking meter will earn a traffic ticket. Not understanding how close we were to our car, a decision was made to take a chance and not go back to the car to put in more Forints. Unfortunately Mike arrived to see a ticket stuck to the windshield wipers. He inquired at a local bakery and learned that you can pay the fine at a post office. Wanting to get out of the busy rush hour traffic, we waited to pay it in a small town post office. We encountered no problems and paid about $28.00. One more lesson learned.

Because I am a bit picky, this place would have been more enjoyable had I done a little research because the positives definitely outweighed the negatives. Hungary and Hungarians are lovely!

Posted in Europe | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

One Response to Our Hungarian Adventure

  1. Judy Morgan says:

    Debbie, I felt the same way when I visited Prague. It was stepping back in time. The buildings were just starting to be cleaned on the outside. They were not the clean buildings like other buildings in Europe. They were dark from soot and age. But what a wonderful city and had beauty like none other. I enjoyed seeing the buildings like they were under soviet control. One thing I noticed was the older adults didn’t look you in the eye, some one told us it was because they did not truly believe they were a free nation. It was there that I first visited a Jewish Ghetto and a still in use Synagogue. I learned so much about the way they worship. Visiting men had to wear the caps (Brain freeze, I can’t remember what they are called!!!) on their heads before entering! It was another very moving moment! The cemetery was also next to the Synagogue with many graves on top of each other causing the tombstones to be in all angles. There I learned about the rocks being placed on the tops of the tombstones. Next to it was another small chapel with all the names (40,000+) of members of the Ghetto that were sent to concentration camps!! There names were hand written on the walls with their birthdate and the day they were sent to the camps. One entire room was filled with names of the children! You know I didn’t have dry eyes! Such a sad time in our world’s history!

    Budapest and other Eastern Block countries are on my bucket list!! Again so many places so little time!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *