Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Citadella

Ron and I wanted to see the photo exhibit at the Citadella, which Patricia and Don had talked about. It is a temporary exhibit called “Children of War”. Though they thought the photography was amazing, they felt horror at the subject matter.

We took two buses to get there and then had to hike up the rest of the hill; only tour buses are allowed at the very top. It was a clear sunny day, making the fresh air jaunt more enjoyable then the time we went in the heat of August. There was a queue of tour buses waiting to park, alerting us that there would be plenty of tourists. The views of the city are
breathtaking from up there, making it a popular place to visit.

One can walk around quite freely and go to the lower vantage point under the statue of the lady with leaf in her hands, but to go higher and into the exhibit will cost you a bit of cash. According to the brochure given to us after shelling out 1,200 Huf each, we had these things in store for our viewing pleasure:

  • An exhibit of military history with the artillery used by the Soviet army during their siege on Budapest
  • A photo exhibit of Budapest from 1850-1945
  • Waxworks and “Siege of Budapest, 1944” photo exhibit in the air-raid shelter from WWII
  • Photo exhibit in the Hotel Citadella
  • Memorial park showing the life of St. Gellért
  • Exhibit of local history of Mount Gellért
It sounded exciting and enough to fill a half a day, which was a bit worrisome since we had guests coming to our B and B. We did not have that much time. The reality is a bit different.

Our first stop was the photo exhibit. It was in-depth, the photography was amazing and there were explanations in English. Since 1940, there have been 129 wars in the world and over 300 million children have died as a result. The photos covered numerous countries from five continents, not always grouped together. Many had some short explanation. The photos were hung on both sides of the walls in a hallway in the hotel that went in a circular fashion ending where one begins. Since I did not realize this, rather than bounce from side to side, I was going to view one side of the hall and then the
opposite on my return to the entrance. When we found ourselves in the lobby yet again, Ron was too overwhelmed to join me for the other side. It was emotionally draining, so feeling I had seen enough, we just left for the next exhibit.

Walking toward the statue from the hotel and on the left was the local history exhibit of
the Mount Gellért. Four store like display windows protect the exhibit from viewers sticky fingers. What is displayed is mostly geological information, nothing visually stimulating other than a few facts about the Celts and Romans who once occupied the area.
Next, we entered the bunker. This being the shelter and the wax museum, there were separate rooms to view from a hall only with wax representations of the ‘life’ during the war. If you are hawk or a historian, you could stay busy there for an hour or more. It took us fifteen minutes to walk through and take some photos.

The “Memorial park” is a small rounded out area, which I suppose could semantically be called a park with the few flowers and shrubs in the overgrown planted area in the center. Again the history of St. Gellért is told in placards with pictures behind store front windows. Reading the explanations about the two folklore tales of his life, one being in the 1000s and the other placing him in the 1500s, there is not much to be impressed with.

If one were motivated, you could take a stairway down by the base of the statue for yet more store windows with still more displays that look as enthusiastically enticing as the rest. We decided to forsake this opportunity for more exercise. By now, Ron was getting anxious about being home in time for our guests; he took off for home and I continued on, merrily snapping pictures. The statue at the top looks just as impressive from the free viewing area, 15 feet below where I was standing, but shoot, I had paid to get in. I was going to get my money’s worth. The cityscapes were giving me chills of excitement. It was incredibly beautiful to see the whole city from here.

As I was leaving the area, I realized that what was meant by the Budapest 1850-1945 photo exhibit was in the free area. There are large billboard type photos with inserts showing various sights of the city in different years within the range stated. Was it worth the 1,200 Huf for the museums? Well, the photo exhibit was worth the 5 Euro charge, but this is a temporary exhibit. I would not pay it again unless there was another exceptional exhibit in the hotel. The view can be seen for free not that much farther down to make a difference.

Taking the back way down, I walked the trail to the Rudas thermals and took the bus to the Gellért Hotel for a picture. From there, I hopped on the 49 tram to the Great Market to wander around a bit. Realizing how often I recommend to guests that they get a langos in the market, I thought I had better do some quality assurance testing.

For the uninitiated, a langos is the Hungarian version of fried dough, but with a difference. My favorite is with shredded cheese, ham, and garlic juice. When you go up the escalator to the second floor, there is a restaurant. By-pass this and follow the food stands along the one wall. At the end of the row of food stands is the only one that sells langos. The market being a tourist attraction, the langos stand has gone commercial with ‘Mexican’, ‘Italian’ and other nationality type langos toppings, but to be assured of a cultural experience, get the type that I get or one with sour cream and shredded cheese. They are delicious, but do not plan on eating again for four hours; they are filling.
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