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HI, I'M RICK STEVES, BACK WITH
MORE OF THE BEST OF EUROPE.
THIS TIME, WE'RE SOAKING IN THE CULTURAL WONDERS OF HUNGARY,
IN BUDAPEST.
YOUR MOVE.
IT'S COSMOPOLITAN, COMPLICATED AND A BIT CHALLENGING AT FIRST.
SEASONED TRAVELERS LIKE IT MORE WITH EACH VISIT.
FOR MANY, BUDAPEST IS EASTERN EUROPE'S
MOST FASCINATING AND REWARDING DESTINATION.
WE'LL SOAK IN ELEGANCE AT THERMAL BATHS,
STOMP AND SLAP WITH TRADITIONAL DANCERS,
VISIT THE COMMUNIST ALL-STARS, NOW IN A STATUE PARK,
REMEMBER HUNGARY'S SECRET POLICE,
SAMPLE SOME PAPRIKA...
MMM, SWEET.
...AND CRUISE UNDER FLOODLIT MONUMENTS.
HUNGARY, LANDLOCKED DEEP IN CENTRAL EUROPE
AND FORMERLY PART OF THE WARSAW PACT,
IS NOW PART OF THE EUROPEAN UNION.
THE SEPARATE CITIES OF BUDA AND PEST
ONCE STRADDLED THE DANUBE RIVER.
NOW THEY'VE GROWN TOGETHER TO MAKE BUDAPEST.
THIS MYTHIC BIRD, THE TURUL,
WAS THE BIRD OF THE ORIGINAL HUNGARIANS, OR MAGYARS,
WHO MIGRATED OUT OF THE PLAINS OF CENTRAL ASIA.
IN 896, THE BIRD DROPPED HIS SWORD HERE,
INDICATING THIS WAS TO BE THEIR HOMELAND.
THE MAGYARS SETTLED HERE, SETTING INTO MOTION
A TUMULTUOUS AND FASCINATING THOUSAND-YEAR STORY
WHICH ULTIMATELY GAVE US THE MODERN NATION OF HUNGARY
AND THIS GREAT CAPITAL.
SITUATED ON A CROSSROADS BETWEEN EUROPE AND ASIA,
THOSE ORIGINAL MAGYARS ABSORBED WAVES
OF MIGRATING ETHNIC GROUPS.
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE OF BUDAPEST?
START WITH THOSE FIRST MAGYAR SETTLERS,
MIX IN GERMANS, SLAVS, JEWS, GYPSIES,
SPICE WITH A DASH OF TURKISH PAPRIKA
AND SIMMER FOR A FEW CENTURIES IN ITS FAMOUS THERMAL BATHS.
EACH GROUP HAD AN IMPACT.
ALL THIS ETHNIC PILING ON CREATED A CULTURAL GOULASH
THAT IS DISTINCTLY BUDAPEST.
STARTING IN THE 16th CENTURY,
THE OTTOMAN TURKS RULED HERE FOR ABOUT 150 YEARS.
LATER, AS PART OF THE HAPSBURG EMPIRE, RULED FROM VIENNA
AND ENERGIZED BY AN INFLUX OF GERMAN SPEAKERS,
THE CITY BECAME MORE EUROPEAN.
THE LAST HALF OF THE 1800s WAS BOOM TIME FOR BUDAPEST.
ITS CAFES WERE PACKED, AS WAS ITS OPERA HOUSE.
THE HABSBURGS AGREED TO A TREATY,
MAKING HUNGARY A JUNIOR PARTNER IN A VAST REALM
IT NOW CALLED THE AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN EMPIRE.
AS VIENNA'S SECOND FIDDLE,
BUDAPEST GOVERNED A HUGE CHUNK OF EASTERN EUROPE.
THE BOOM PEAKED WITH A FLURRY OF CONSTRUCTION
WORKING UP TO A GRAND PARTY IN 1896.
IT WAS HUNGARY'S 1,000th BIRTHDAY.
LIKE SO MUCH OF BUDAPEST,
HUNGARY'S PARLIAMENT WAS BUILT FOR THE BIG 1896 PARTY.
ITS ELEGANT, NEO-GOTHIC DESIGN AND RIVERSIDE LOCATION
WERE INSPIRED BY ITS COUNTERPART IN LONDON.
IT'S ENORMOUS, WITH LITERALLY MILES OF GRAND HALLS
DESIGNED TO HELP ADMINISTER
THAT SPRAWLING, MULTINATIONAL HABSBURG EMPIRE.
BY THE END OF WORLD WAR I, THE HABSBURGS WERE GONE
AND HUNGARY, WHILE MUCH SMALLER,
WAS FULLY INDEPENDENT.
BUT THEN CAME THE NAZIS, FOLLOWED BY THE COMMUNISTS.
THAT ELUSIVE FREEDOM WAS FINALLY WON
AFTER THE FALL OF THE SOVIET UNION IN 1989.
AND SINCE THEN THE CITY HAS BLOSSOMED.
[ upbeat classical music playing ]
TODAY, HUNGARY RULES ONLY HUNGARY,
AND IT'S RULED NOT BY AN EMPEROR,
BUT BY DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES,
WHO LEGISLATE FROM WHAT'S NOW A PALACE OF DEMOCRACY.
LIKE VIENNA, BUDAPEST FEELS MORE GRANDIOSE
THAN THE CAPITAL OF A RELATIVELY SMALL COUNTRY.
BUT THE CITY REMAINS
THE CULTURAL CAPITAL OF EASTERN EUROPE
WITH A KEENLY DEVELOPED KNACK FOR GOOD LIVING.
YOU CAN ENJOY THAT HUNGARIAN JOY OF LIFE
AT THE SZECHENYI BATH.
SOAK WITH THE LOCALS.
OF THE CITY'S TWO DOZEN OR SO TRADITIONAL MINERAL BATHS,
THIS IS THE MOST ACCESSIBLE AND FUN.
BUDAPEST IS HOT, LITERALLY.
IT SITS ON A THIN CRUST OVER THERMAL SPRINGS,
WHICH POWER ALL THESE BATHS.
BOTH THE ANCIENT ROMANS AND OTTOMAN TURKS
ENJOYED THESE SAME MINERAL SPRINGS.
THEY STILL SAY, "POKE A HOLE IN THE GROUND ANYWHERE IN HUNGARY,
AND YOU'LL FIND HOT WATER."
MAGYARS OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES SQUEEZE THEMSELVES
INTO TINY SWIMSUITS AND STRUT THEIR STUFF.
BABUSHKAS FLOAT BLISSFULLY IN THE WARM WATER.
THE SPEEDO-CLAD OLD BOYS CLUB
GATHERS PENSIVELY AROUND SOGGY CHESSBOARDS.
AND THE CIRCLE OF RAPIDS BRINGS OUT THE KID
IN PEOPLE OF ALL AGES.
AFTER 2,000 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AND INNOVATION,
LOCALS HAVE HONED THE ART
OF ENJOYING THEIR THERMAL HOT SPRINGS.
BUDAPEST STRADDLES THE DANUBE RIVER.
ON THE WEST SIDE IS HILLY BUDA, DOMINATED BY CASTLE HILL.
THE ROYAL PALACE MARKS THE PLACE
WHERE ONE OF EUROPE'S MIGHTIEST CASTLES ONCE STOOD.
SINCE THE 14th CENTURY, HUNGARY HAS BEEN RULED FROM THIS SPOT.
AS WORLD WAR II DREW TO A CLOSE, BUDA BECAME THE FRONTLINE
BETWEEN THE NAZIS AND THE APPROACHING SOVIETS,
WHO SIEGED THIS HILL FOR SEVERAL MONTHS.
TODAY'S PALACE, REBUILT FROM THE RUBBLE OF WORLD WAR II,
MAY NOT BE WORTH TOURING,
BUT IT SITS ON SOIL DRENCHED IN HUNGARIAN HISTORY
AND IT'S CLOSE TO THE SOUL OF THIS NATION.
ANOTHER CASTLE HILL LANDMARK,
THE 800-YEAR-OLD MATTHIAS CHURCH,
HAS ALSO BEEN DESTROYED AND REBUILT SEVERAL TIMES.
ITS FLAMBOYANT STEEPLE AND OTHER FRILLY ELEMENTS
WERE ADDED FOR THE 1896 CELEBRATIONS.
THE OPULENT AND GILDED INTERIOR
TELLS A THOUSAND YEARS OF LOCAL HISTORY:
CRUSADER HEROICS...
BEATING BACK THE TURKS...
ALL PAINTED IN A FANCIFUL, NEO-GOTHIC WAY.
THE CHURCH'S PRIZE POSSESSION HIDES IN A CHAPEL IN THE BACK.
PEER THROUGH THE BLACK IRON GRILL
TO SEE THE 500-YEAR-OLD STATUE OF MARY AND JESUS,
WHICH COMES WITH A STORY.
IN THE 16th CENTURY, THE TURKS WERE ABOUT TO OVERRUN BUDA.
LOCALS, ANTICIPATING A TERRIBLE RANSACKING,
HID THEIR MOST PRECIOUS STATUE IN A NICHE
AND PLASTERED IT OVER.
THE MUSLIMS TOOK BUDA AND USED THIS BUILDING AS A MOSQUE
FOR OVER A CENTURY.
THEY WHITEWASHED EVERYTHING, HUNG CARPETS ON THE WALLS.
THEN, DURING A LATER SIEGE,
A NEARBY EXPLOSION RATTLED THE BUILDING.
THE PLASTER FELL AWAY FROM THE STATUE
AND THERE WAS MARY, LOOKING OUT OVER THE MOSQUE.
THIS SPOOKED THE MUSLIMS.
ACCORDING TO LEGEND, THE TURKS FLED,
MAKING THIS THE ONLY PART OF TOWN RETAKEN WITHOUT A FIGHT.
JUST OUTSIDE STANDS THE FISHERMAN'S BASTION,
AN ICON OF BUDAPEST.
IT OFFERS SWEEPING VIEWS OVER THE DANUBE TO PEST.
IN THE MIDDLE AGES, THE FISH MARKET WAS JUST BELOW HERE,
SO THIS PART OF THE RAMPART
ACTUALLY WAS GUARDED BY FISHERMEN.
THE CURRENT STRUCTURE, THOUGH, IS A FANCIFUL REBUILD,
CONSTRUCTED FOR THE BIG BASH OF 1896.
ITS SEVEN TOWERS SYMBOLIZE THE TENTS THE NOMADIC MAGYARS,
THOSE ORIGINAL HUNGARIANS, CALLED HOME
BEFORE THEY MOVED WEST TO EUROPE.
HUNGARY'S FIRST CHRISTIAN KING, ST. STEPHEN,
TAMED THE PAGAN MAGYARS.
HE ESTABLISHED STRICT LAWS, INTRODUCED THE CONCEPT
OF PRIVATE PROPERTY AND MADE HIS PEOPLE,
WHETHER THEY LIKED IT OR NOT, CHRISTIAN.
THE POPE CROWNED ST. STEPHEN IN THE YEAR 1000,
MAKING HUNGARY PART OF CHRISTENDOM.
THIS WAS A PIVOTAL POINT IN HUNGARY'S HISTORY.
WHILE STEPHEN COULD HAVE ACCEPTED HIS CROWN
FROM THE LEADER OF THE EASTERN, OR BYZANTINE, CHURCH,
HE CHOSE TO HAVE HIS RULE LEGITIMIZED
BY ACCEPTING HIS CROWN FROM THE LEADER OF THE ROMAN CHURCH,
AND THIS GAVE HUNGARY MORE OF A WESTERN ORIENTATION.
THE BUDA FUNICULAR IS A POPULAR LANDMARK.
BUILT IN 1870 TO PROVIDE CHEAP TRANSPORTATION
TO CASTLE HILL WORKERS, TODAY IT'S A FUN LITTLE TOURIST TRIP.
IT SHUTTLES VISITORS EVERY FEW MINUTES UP AND DOWN
BETWEEN THE TOP OF CASTLE HILL AND THE MIGHTY CHAIN BRIDGE.
GUARDED BY LIONS, WHICH SYMBOLIZE POWER,
THE CHAIN BRIDGE, THE CITY'S FIRST GREAT BRIDGE,
OFFERS A PEDESTRIAN-FRIENDLY WAY TO CONNECT BUDA AND PEST.
BEFORE THIS BRIDGE WAS BUILT,
PEOPLE NEEDED BOATS OR A GOOD FREEZE TO CROSS THE RIVER.
SOMETIMES PEOPLE WOULD WALK ACROSS THE FROZEN DANUBE
ONLY TO GET STRANDED ON THE OTHER SIDE DURING A THAW.
ONCE, A CITY BIG SHOT WAS STUCK ON THE OTHER SIDE FOR A WEEK
TRYING TO GET TO HIS DAD'S FUNERAL.
HE MISSED THE FUNERAL.
HE WAS SO FRUSTRATED, HE COMMISSIONED THE BUILDING
OF BUDAPEST'S FIRST PERMANENT BRIDGE.
THE CHAIN BRIDGE, FINISHED IN 1849,
IMMEDIATELY BECAME AN IMPORTANT SYMBOL OF BUDAPEST.
WHILE THIS AND ALL OTHER GREAT BRIDGES OF BUDAPEST
WERE DESTROYED IN WORLD WAR II, THEY WERE QUICKLY REBUILT.
PEST IS THE FLAT AND URBAN COMMERCIAL HALF OF BUDAPEST.
THE MAIN SQUARE OF ITS INVITING PEDESTRIAN ZONE
IS VOROSMARTY TER.
THE LANDMARK GERBEAUD CAFE IS A FIXTURE.
BETWEEN THE WORLD WARS,
THE WELL-TO-DO LADIES OF BUDAPEST
MET HERE AFTER SHOPPING.
IT REMAINS THE MEETING POINT IN BUDAPEST.
IT'S CLASSY AND CENTRAL, PERFECT FOR PEOPLE WATCHING
AND A LITTLE HIGH-CALORIE 19th-CENTURY ELEGANCE.
THE NEARBY HUNGARIAN STATE OPERA HOUSE
OFFERS MORE OF THAT 19th-CENTURY SPLENDOR.
THE OPULENCE RIVALS PARIS AND VIENNA,
FROM ITS PLUSH HALLS AND STAIRCASES,
DESIGNED FOR SOCIALITES MAKING THE SCENE,
TO ITS RANKS OF GILDED BOX SEATS IN THE VELVETY THEATER.
WHETHER YOU ACTUALLY TAKE IN A PERFORMANCE
OR JUST ENJOY AN OPERA HOUSE TOUR,
IT'S CLEAR THAT THE PEOPLE OF BUDAPEST
HAVE THAT HABSBURG APPRECIATION FOR FINE MUSIC IN THEIR BLOOD.
YOU'LL FIND MUSICAL EVENTS ALL OVER TOWN.
TONIGHT, WE'RE OPTING
FOR A GYPSY AND HUNGARIAN FOLK CONCERT.
LIKE MOST EASTERN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES,
HUNGARY HAS FINE FOLK MUSIC AND DANCE.
HUNGARY'S LARGE ROMA, OR GYPSY, POPULATION,
HAS HELPED KEEP THIS FAST-FIDDLIN' TRADITION ALIVE.
WHILE MANY VISITORS LIMIT THEIR GYPSY MUSIC EXPERIENCE
TO GUYS DRESSED IN RED VESTS
OUT FOR BIG TIPS IN TOURISTY RESTAURANTS,
I GET MY TRADITIONAL MUSIC FIX IN CONCERT HALLS LIKE THIS.
NIGHTLY SHOWS ARE INEXPENSIVE AND HIGH-POWERED,
MIXING TEUTONIC-STYLE SLAP DANCING
AND SLAVIC COSSACK-STYLE FOOTWORK.
[ lively fiddle music playing ]
[ applause ]
WE'RE SLEEPING AT THE ART'OTEL.
EVERY DETAIL HERE, FROM THE STYLISH LOBBY
TO THE BREAKFAST BUFFET, IS DESIGNED WITH FLAIR.
THIS BIG MOD HOTEL IS A CLASSY SPLURGE,
OR A BARGAIN IF YOU BOOK DURING SLOW TIMES.
IT'S A GOOD EXAMPLE OF THE IMPRESSIVE BUILDING
THAT'S BEEN GOING ON HERE SINCE THE FALL OF COMMUNISM.
AND IT ALL COMES WITH A DANUBE VIEW.
WHILE THE CITY IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY MODERN,
MANY BUILDINGS SURVIVE FROM THE COMMUNIST AGE.
THESE ARE REMINDERS OF WHAT HAPPENS
WHEN YOU LOCK OUT YOUR ARTISTS
AND LET PARTY LOYALISTS DESIGN YOUR BUILDINGS.
ONE POSITIVE LEGACY OF COMMUNISM
IS BUDAPEST'S COLORFUL, SUBSIDIZED AND VERY PRACTICAL
NETWORK OF TROLLEYS, BUSES AND SUBWAYS.
LOCALS GET AROUND CHEAPLY AND EFFORTLESSLY.
I'M JOINING A HUNGARIAN TOUR GUIDE FRIEND OF MINE,
PETER POLCZMAN, FOR THE DAY.
GUIDES LIKE PETER HELP ME RESEARCH MY GUIDEBOOKS,
AND WHEN I FIND A GOOD ONE,
THAT'S A PERSON I LOVE TO RECOMMEND.
HUNGARIAN IS A UNIQUE LANGUAGE.
WE ARE ONLY RELATED TO FINNISH AND ESTONIAN,
BUT IT'S EASY, LIKE Azelet habos oldala.
CAN YOU SAY THAT?
[ Rick tries to speak Hungarian ]
NOT TOO BAD.
EUROPE, ESPECIALLY EASTERN EUROPE,
HAS MANY EXCELLENT YOUNG GUIDES WHO SPEAK FINE ENGLISH
AND ENJOY SHOWING OFF THEIR HOMETOWNS.
CONSIDERING THEIR REASONABLE FEES
AND HOW MEANINGFUL THEY MAKE YOUR VISIT,
HIRING YOUR OWN PERSONAL EXPERT CAN BE AN EXCELLENT VALUE,
AND YOU'LL KNOW JUST WHERE TO GET THE BEST STRUDEL.
HEY, THANK YOU.
Koszonom.
PUBLIC TRANSIT ALLOWS LOCALS A WAY TO GET AROUND THE CITY
FAR EASIER AND CHEAPER THAN MESSING WITH A CAR.
MANY UNDERGROUND STATIONS TUNNEL DEEP BENEATH THE CITY.
THIS IS DEEP.
OH, IT'S AS DEEP AS A TEN-STORY BUILDING.
IN FACT, IT WAS MEANT TO BE USED AS A BOMB SHELTER
DURING THE COLD WAR.
WE EMERGE NEAR BUDAPEST'S GREAT INDOOR MARKET HALL,
ANOTHER SOUVENIR FROM THE PARTY OF 1896.
THE GROUND FLOOR IS A COMMOTION OF PRODUCE STANDS...
BUTCHER STALLS...
PEPPERS AND SPICES.
Rick: AH, THERE'S PAPRIKA EVERYWHERE.
Peter: AH, THE WHOLE MARKET HAS IT.
IN FACT, IT'S A DOMINANT SPICE IN OUR CUISINE.
YOU TAKE THE DRIED PEPPER, AND THEN YOU GRIND IT
AND THEN YOU WOULD GET THE POWDER.
THERE'S DIFFERENT TYPES.
THERE'S HOT, AND SWEET.
THAT'S SWEET.
MMM, SWEET.
AS IN MARKETS ALL OVER EUROPE,
THE FRAGRANT STALLS ARE KEPT DOWNSTAIRS.
TANKS OF CARP, CATFISH AND PERCH,
AND PILES OF PICKLES.
Peter: YOU WANNA TRY SOME?
Rick: YEAH.
OH, THAT'S MY FAVORITE.
SO HERE'S A PLATE OF PICKLED PEPPERS HERE.
LOOK AT THIS.
NOW, THIS IS A PICKLED PEPPER FILLED WITH KRAUT.
YEAH.
NOW HOW'S THAT?
MMM.
THAT IS...STRONG.
HOW DO YOU SAY STRONG?
[ speaking Hungarian ]
[ Rick speaking Hungarian ]
OH.
UPSTAIRS ARE HUNGARIAN HANDICRAFTS...
AND INEXPENSIVE, STAND-UP,
HUNGARIAN-STYLE FAST-FOOD JOINTS.
SO THIS IS HUNGARIAN GOULASH?
SOUP.
SO THIS IS NOT A THICK STEW,
BECAUSE MANY AMERICANS WOULD THINK
THAT THIS IS A THICK STEW.
IN FACT, THIS IS LIKE A CLEAR BROTH WITH POTATO
AND CUBES OF MEAT, PORK OR BEEF IN IT.
AND AS YOU CAN SEE, EVERYTHING SEASONED WITH PAPRIKA.
OKAY, SO THIS IS THE ACTUAL HUNGARIAN GOULASH.
MAN, THAT IS AUTHENTIC HUNGARIAN GOULASH SOUP.
BUT I REMEMBER THAT, BUT BON APPETIT?
[ speaking Hungarian ]
[ speaking Hungarian ]
AS YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED,
VISITORS TO BUDAPEST NEED REMEMBER ONLY ONE DATE:
1896.
THAT WAS THE 1000th ANNIVERSARY OF THE YEAR THE HUNGARIANS
FIRST SETTLED IN EUROPE.
IN THAT THOUSAND YEARS,
THE MAGYARS WENT FROM BEING A NOMADIC CENTRAL ASIAN TRIBE,
RAMPAGING THROUGH THE CONTINENT,
TO A LEGITIMATE POWER, HELPING THE HAPSBURGS
RULE ONE OF THE MIGHTIEST EMPIRES EUROPE HAD EVER SEEN.
THE PEOPLE OF BUDAPEST USED THEIR MILLENNIAL CELEBRATION
AS AN EXCUSE TO BUILD MONUMENTS AND BUILDINGS
APPROPRIATE FOR RULING A HUGE EMPIRE.
NINETY-SIX IS THE KEY NUMBER.
IMPORTANT STAIRWAYS HAVE 96 STEPS.
HOW TALL ARE THE DOMES?
NINETY-SIX METERS.
BUDAPEST'S MAIN DRAG, ANDRASSY BOULEVARD,
CONNECTS CENTRAL PEST TO THE BIRTHDAY PARTY FAIRGROUNDS.
LOCALS CLAIM IT'S LIKE THE CHAMPS-ELYSSES AND BROADWAY
ROLLED INTO ONE.
WHILE THAT'S A STRETCH,
IT IS A FINE PLACE TO GET A FEEL FOR TODAY'S URBAN PEST.
AND RUNNING JUST 15 FEET UNDER ANDRASSY BOULEVARD
IS THE MILLENNIUM UNDERGROUND.
ALSO BUILT IN 1896, IT WAS THE FIRST
UNDERGROUND PUBLIC TRANSIT ON THE CONTINENT,
AND THE SHALLOWEST.
IT'S JUST A FEW STEPS BELOW STREET LEVEL.
TRAINS WERE ORIGINALLY HORSE-DRAWN.
WHILE HANDY TODAY FOR STOPS ALONG ANDRASSY BOULEVARD --
TRAINS COME EVERY COUPLE OF MINUTES --
IT WAS ORIGINALLY DESIGNED TO GET THE MASSES OF VISITORS
CONVENIENTLY OUT TO THE FESTIVAL GROUNDS,
AND THAT'S WHERE WE'RE HEADING.
HEROES' SQUARE, AT THE END OF ANDRASSY BOULEVARD,
WAS THE CENTERPIECE OF THE 1896 CELEBRATION.
IT'S A HUGE SQUARE, BOOKENDED BY TWO IMPOSING MUSEUMS.
AT THE MILLENNIUM MONUMENT,
YOU'LL MEET THE WORLD'S MOST HISTORIC HUNGARIANS.
THE GRANDDADDY OF ALL MAGYARS WAS ARPAD.
ATOP THE PILLAR,
THE ARCHANGEL GABRIEL OFFERS THE CROWN TO ST. STEPHEN,
THE KING WHO CHRISTIANIZED THE MAGYARS.
BUT FOR KIDS, THIS IS JUST THE HOTTEST PLACE IN TOWN
FOR STUNT BIKING AND SKATEBOARDING,
AS WELL AS THE GATEWAY TO THE CITY PARK.
BUDAPEST'S CITY PARK IS A VAST PLAYGROUND
BUILT TO HOST HUNGARY'S BIG BIRTHDAY BASH.
IT'S STILL PACKED WITH HUGE PARTY DECORATIONS:
A ZOO WITH QUIRKY ART NOUVEAU BUILDINGS,
A REPLICA OF A TRANSYLVANIAN CASTLE --
TRANSYLVANIA WAS PART OF HUNGARY BACK THEN --
THE PALATIAL SZECHENI BATHS,
AN OLD-TIME CIRCUS,
AND PATHS FOR STROLLING.
IF THE SIGHTSEEING GRIND'S GOT YA DOWN,
HANG OUT HERE WATCHING LOCALS PLAY SPEEDY CHESS.
BUDAPEST'S WONDERFULLY RESTORED SYNAGOGUE IS HUGE,
THE BIGGEST IN EUROPE.
IT'S A REMINDER THAT IN THE 19th CENTURY,
A QUARTER OF THE CITY WAS JEWISH.
THE GREAT SYNAGOGUE LOOKS LIKE A CHURCH.
WITH ITS PIPE ORGAN
FLANKING THE HIGH ALTAR, LONG NAVE AND PULPIT,
IT FEELS LIKE A CHURCH WITH THE SYMBOLS SWITCHED.
IT WAS BUILT IN THE 1850s,
WHEN HUNGARY'S JEWS WANTED TO FEEL MORE INTEGRATED
INTO THE COMMUNITY.
THE EASTERN-FLAVORED DECOR IS TYPICAL
OF 19th-CENTURY SYNAGOGUES IN EUROPE,
PERHAPS DESIGNED TO RECALL THE JEWS'
MIDDLE EASTERN AND MOORISH HERITAGE.
HUNGARY'S JEWISH COMMUNITY WAS DECIMATED BY THE NAZIS.
THE SYNAGOGUE'S TREE OF LIFE, BUILT ON THE SITE
OF MASS GRAVES OF THOSE KILLED BY THE NAZIS,
IS A POWERFUL MEMORIAL.
HUNGARY LOST OVER HALF A MILLION JEWS TO THE HOLOCAUST.
THE WILLOW MAKES AN UPSIDE-DOWN MENORA.
EACH INDIVIDUAL LEAF LISTS THE NAME OF A VICTIM.
PEBBLES REPRESENT PRAYERS.
SADLY, BAD TIMES UNDER THE GERMANS
WERE REPLACED WITH BAD TIMES UNDER THE RUSSIANS.
WHILE SOVIET RULE WAS HARSH, HUNGARY MANAGED TO FASHION ITS
MILDER, YET STILL ACCEPTABLE TO MOSCOW, GOULASH COMMUNISM,
WHICH ALLOWED FOR A LITTLE PRIVATE ENTERPRISE,
EASIER TRAVEL AND LESS CENSORSHIP.
BECAUSE OF THIS, HUNGARY WAS THE ENVY
OF ITS MORE STRICTLY CONTROLLED NEIGHBORS.
THIS PEDESTRIAN BOULEVARD, VACI UTCA,
IS THE MAIN SHOPPING AND TOURISM ARTERY.
BEFORE THE FALL OF COMMUNISM,
WANNABE SHOPPERS FROM ALL OVER EASTERN EUROPE
CAME TO THIS STREET.
THEY'D DROOL OVER NIKES, REEBOKS
AND THE FINE CAPITALIST CUISINE
BEFORE ANY OF THESE WESTERN EVILS WERE AVAILABLE ELSEWHERE
IN THE WARSAW PACT REGION.
IN THE 1980s, A STROLL DOWN THIS STREET
WAS THE CLOSEST EAST GERMANS, CZECHS AND POLES COULD GET
TO A DAY PASS TO THE WEST.
BUDAPEST WAS ALWAYS A BIT MORE REBELLIOUS,
A BIT MORE INDEPENDENT IN SOME SENSE,
AND OUR NEIGHBORS JUST LOVED THIS PLACE.
CZECHS AND POLES WOULD COME HERE FOR AN AMERICAN CIGARETTE
OR TO JUST POP IN AND OUT OF SHOPS, SIMPLY TO TASTE THE WEST.
THIS WAS WESTERN LIFE.
WHEN SOME HUNGARIANS ARE NOSTALGIC
FOR WHAT THEY CONSIDER THE GOOD OLD DAYS OF COMMUNISM,
THEY DROP BY THE JEGBUFE.
LITTLE SEEMS TO HAVE CHANGED HERE AT THE JEGBUFE.
FIRST, YOU CHOOSE WHAT YOU WANT AT THE COUNTER.
THEN YOU TRY TO EXPLAIN THAT TO THE CASHIER, AND PAY.
NOW, I'LL TAKE THIS OVER HERE?
TRADE YOUR RECEIPT BACK AT THE COUNTER FOR YOUR GOODIES,
AND FINALLY, ENJOY IT ALL, STANDING UP, COMMUNIST STYLE.
THE DARK UNDERSIDE OF HUNGARY'S 20th-CENTURY STORY
IS ON DISPLAY AT THE HOUSE OF TERROR,
HOUSED IN THE FORMER HEADQUARTERS OF BOTH THE NAZIS
AND LATER THE COMMUNIST SECRET POLICE.
IT WELCOMES YOU WITH A SOVIET TANK AND A TOWERING WALL
COVERED WITH PORTRAITS OF THE VICTIMS OF THIS BUILDING.
THIS MUSEUM MAKES IT CLEAR
THAT WHILE THE UNIFORMS CHANGED IN 1945,
THE TERROR DID NOT.
IT OFFERS A DISTURBING LOOK AT THE GRIM TERROR
OF BOTH THE FAR RIGHT AND THE FAR LEFT
INFLICTED ON THE PEOPLE OF BUDAPEST.
TO KEEP DISSENT TO A MINIMUM, THE SECRET POLICE
OF BOTH THE NAZIS AND THE COMMUNISTS
IMPRISONED, DEPORTED OR EXECUTED ANYONE
SUSPECTED OF BEING AN ENEMY OF THE STATE.
ROOMS FEATURE THE MANY BLEAK DIMENSIONS OF LIFE IN HUNGARY
BEFORE FREEDOM.
GULAG LIFE: COUNTLESS WRITERS, ARTISTS, AND DISSIDENTS
SPENT THEIR BEST YEARS BREAKING ROCKS IN QUARRIES.
PROPAGANDA PREACHED: WAVE THE FLAG, TRUST YOUR LEADERS
AND YOU'LL ENJOY THE MATERIAL FRUITS OF YOUR OBEDIENCE.
BOTH NAZISM AND COMMUNISM CELEBRATED A SHAM JUSTICE
AND A SHAM DEMOCRACY.
BEHIND THE BANNERS WERE ALL THE DOMESTIC SPY TOOLS
GOVERNMENTS USED TO KEEP A PEOPLE IN LINE.
JOINING THE CHURCH WAS A WAY TO EXPRESS DISSENT,
AND A PEOPLE'S FAITH WAS ONE THING
THE TOTALITARIAN GOVERNMENTS COULD NOT CONTROL.
THE BASEMENT WAS THE GRIM SCENE OF TORTURE AND EXECUTIONS.
WHILE THERE IS A HAPPY ENDING --
VIDEO CLIPS SHOW THE FESTIVE AND EXHILARATING DAYS IN 1991
WHEN THE LAST SOVIETS DEPARTED --
THE WALL OF THE VICTIMIZERS IS AN EVOCATIVE SEND-OFF.
IT REMINDS VISITORS THAT MOST LOCAL MEMBERS
AND SUPPORTERS OF THE SECRET POLICE,
MANY OF WHOM ARE STILL LIVING,
WERE NEVER BROUGHT TO JUSTICE.
[ patriotic band music playing ]
STATUE PARK WELCOMES THE CURIOUS AT THE EDGE OF TOWN.
WHEN REGIMES FALL, SO DO THEIR MONUMENTS.
BUDAPEST SAVED ITS SOUVENIRS OF TOTALITARIANISM
AND SHOWS THEM OFF HERE.
JUST THINK OF ALL THESE STATUES OF LENIN AND COMPANY
CRASHING TO THE GROUND TO THE CHEERS OF THE MASSES.
AT STATUE PARK YOU'LL SEE THE COMMUNIST ALL-STARS:
MARX, LOCAL WANNABE STALINS,
AND LENIN, IN HIS FAVORITE HAILING-A-CAB POSE.
IN A KIND OF DEMAGOGUE'S HELL,
THEY'RE LEFT WITH NO ONE TO PREACH TO BUT EACH OTHER
AND STONY SOCIALIST SYMBOLS:
THE HEROIC SOLDIER...
THE OBEDIENT WORKER...
THE TIRELESS MOTHER.
UNDER SOVIET COMMUNISM,
CENSORSHIP WAS TAKEN TO EXTREMES.
ART WAS ONLY ACCEPTABLE IF IT PROMOTED THE IDEOLOGY.
THE ONLY SANCTIONED ART FORM IN THE EASTERN BLOCK
WAS SOCIAL REALISM.
THIS IS SOCIAL REALISM.
LEADERS WERE PORTRAYED WITH UNQUESTIONED AUTHORITY.
INDIVIDUALS WERE IDEALIZED AS COGS IN THE MACHINE,
STRONG, STOIC, DOING THEIR JOB WELL AND PROUDLY
FOR THE GOOD OF THE NATION.
DISTINGUISHING FEATURES WERE UNIMPORTANT.
PEOPLE ALL LOOKED THE SAME: UNQUESTIONING PATRIOTS,
TRUSTING AND SERVING THEIR NATION.
THESE DAYS, WITH HALF THE LOCAL CITIZENRY
HAVING NO LIVING MEMORY OF COMMUNISM,
THERE'S JUST NOT MUCH RESPECT.
THE GIFT SHOP OFFERS A TEMPTING PARADE OF COMMUNIST KITSCH.
CONSIDER PICKING UP A RED STAR LAPEL PIN,
A WORKER'S POCKET WATCH,
OR EVEN A COMMUNIST PARTY VODKA FLASK.
Koszonom.
THIS IS A FUN SOUVENIR, THE GREATEST HITS OF COMMUNISM.
NOBODY CAN ARGUE THAT THE REPLACEMENT OF COMMUNISM
BY CAPITALISM HASN'T PUMPED UP THE ENERGY IN THIS GREAT CITY.
CAFES ARE THRIVING, PEOPLE ARE ENJOYING LIFE,
AND THE CITY'S BREEZY RIVERFRONT PROMENADE
IS LINED WITH DIVERSIONS.
A ROMANTIC WAY TO CAP YOUR DAY, AND OUR VISIT,
IS AN EVENING CRUISE ON THE BLUE DANUBE.
AS THE SUN GOES DOWN,
AN ENSEMBLE OF ICONS GRABS YOUR ATTENTION:
MIGHTY BRIDGES LINKING BUDA AND PEST,
THE STUBBORN CITADEL STILL STANDING TALL,
AND MONUMENTS HONORING A HARD-EARNED FREEDOM.
BUDAPEST HAS SURVIVED
ITS THOUSAND YEARS OF TUMULTUOUS HISTORY BEAUTIFULLY,
AND TODAY IT WELCOMES VISITORS AS AN EMBLEM OF THE NEW EUROPE.
THANKS FOR JOINING US.
I'M RICK STEVES.
UNTIL NEXT TIME, KEEP ON TRAVELIN'.
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Budapest: The Best of Hungary

4470 Folder Collection
Jane published on September 2, 2015
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