The folks are really rolling out the red carpet in Budapest. Our first night here, we went to dinner at this place call Gundel’s, for which we got very dressed up and were serenaded by a jazz violinist who played easy listening classics.
I walked in and said, “I feel like we’re dining on the Titanic.”
At the table next to us were three 20-something internet billionaires. I’ve decided they were internet billionaires because they were American, having dinner at Gundel’s like it was Denny’s and wearing jeans to eat $55 lamb.
I felt like a 15 year old teenager, sitting next to them and sipping Coca Cola Light out of an ice-less glass while my mom reminisced about her C-sections.
We went to the big market, which was great and really interesting, a lot like a Hungarian version of Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. Street food is huge here. Huge. And the absolute best thing to get is the potato pancake. It’s the size of a dinner plate and spectacular. I went shopping by myself and discovered two H&Ms, a Zara and something called New Yorker. New Yorker is a cross between H&M on meth, J-WOWW's whore line and mail order bride Wet Seal, with poorly translated ironic t-shirts. I was so happy to discover New Yorker, I almost started crying. I mean, they were selling polyester cable-knit bustiers for $12. WITH MATCHING SCARVES.
But so far, my absolute favorite thing I've seen in Budapest in the Terror Museum. I know, I know You'd think I'd been through enough. But the Terror Museum is really interesting, and designed in a way that is incredibly weird and spooky. With scary Psycho music in different exhibits.
A lot of it doesn't necessarily make sense, and you've got to get a piece of paper in every room explaining a different part of Communist history. So by the end, we had like, 50 pieces of paper...which they do not recycle. (Take a second, San Francisco. Take two.)
All of the guards at the Terror Museum are probably character actors sent there to set the mood, because every single security guard posted in every room was like a Gulag matron, silently standing there like a linebacker.
"No. You wait for elevator."
I really feel that academically, I brushed over a lot of post-war Communist Eastern European history, other than Hedwig and the Angry Inch, so it was really interesting and sad to spend a few hours surrounded by it. And unlike Auschwitz, the Terror Museum posts the photos of hundreds of "victimizers." There was a whole spooky red hallway packed with their photos, names and dates of birth. And many of them are still alive.
My mom is convinced more than a few have come through the whole museum only to get to the basement at the end of the tour and see themselves. It's a nice little exhibit on revenge. They should just call it the Hallway of Assholes, because after touring the entire museum, which is housed in the building that was home to Budapest's Nazi and then Communist headquarters, seeing standing cells and mobile gallows, we got to the bottom and were like, "Oh. Look at this Communist asshole. And this one. And this one."
I have to pack my shit up now because we're taking the train to Vienna, but I still have to tell you about the Budapest Opera, where I watched a 3 and a half hour opera alone in a private box with 4 French teenagers, all of whom promptly argued with each other and then fell asleep...