Bébhinn had to work the next morning, and Niall had a lab for vet school he had to go into college for, so Caitlin, Niamh, and I went wondering on our own. As a bunch of biologists, we started with the Budapest zoo. It’s interesting to compare zoos, and after a year of talking about conservation and the trip to Africa I don’t know that I’ll ever view zoos the same way again. Not that I don’t appreciate them, but it’s a different perspective. Anyway, this was not the dodgiest of zoos, but it doesn’t compare with say the quality of the Pittsburgh zoo, and not all the animals received the proper care. My favorite part was watching one of the tigers stalking the young school children outside his cage. Niamh and Caitlin really liked the part where you got to go into an enclosure with the sloths, and we got a nice video of one of them. We had a lovely lunch by the water, and headed to the baths. They were similar to the ones in Verona, just with a lot more character and less modern – definitely liked these ones in Budapest more. They also smelled a bit of sulfur, which meant we smelled of sulfur by the time we left, too. And they had saunas of all different temperatures, which we didn’t realize and went into the hottest one and only lasted about 4 minutes. It made for a very relaxing afternoon. We showered, met back up with Niall and Bébhinn and went to a delicious burger restaurant. We headed back to their place again and watched Hocus Pocus, since it is the season.
Tuesday, after breakfast, we went to Budapest’s Terror Museum. Such a perspective. It’s made to commemorate the acts of the brave Hungarians and those who gave their lives during the German Nazi occupation and subsequent Soviet invasion. The Hungarians loathed the Nazis, but had far more hatred for the Soviets, and rightly so when you read about all the Soviets did while trying to install socialism in Hungary. As the U.S. has never been overtaken, it was interesting to hear about the wars from a country living in terror under Nazi and Soviet rule, and to hear and see videos of survivors giving accounts of their harrowing experiences. It’s strange to think that they’ve only been under actual Hungarian rule since the 1990s. So different from other places in Europe. It was still pouring rain when we left, so rather than sight-seeing we enjoyed the afternoon off and watched the Kurt Russel version of The Thing (what a beard!). It stopped raining somewhere during the movie, and we went to dinner at Sir Lancelot – a medieval themed restaurant. I had goulash and a salty scone, grilled meat including a goose leg (the Hungarians are all about goose, especially goose liver), a strudel of some sort, and “appetite drops” which turned out to be whiskey. The entertainment included minstrels and a sword fight, and I was asked to stand atop a table and serenaded by a knight. There was also a belly dancer. We got to see a bit more of the city by night after dinner, and I got to try honey pálinka. Not bad at all. Tomorrow we head for Prague….