I forgot to mention Rooibos tea in my last post. It’s very good with cinnamon. Try it. What more can I say?
Yesterday was Stake Conference, and as I was leaving the Hardmans told me about the Múzeumok Éjszakája that had started an hour earlier. The Night of Museums is a Hungarian tradition celebrating St. Ivan’s day on Midsummer’s night (I realize it’s probably St. John’s day, but I prefer to think of it as St. Ivan’s). It has been so successful that this year they decided to do the same for St. Martin’s day (November 14) and I’m glad they did!
All throughout Hungary a 1300 Ft pass (about $7.00) will get you into any of the participating museums (30 in Budapest) and access to all public transportation. They even have special bus routes for the night. Though the festivities start earlier in many places, admission to the museums begins at 6:00 and they stay open until midnight. Many have special attractions such as live music or demonstrations. They also allow vendors into the museum to sell holiday food such as goose. If they are right and “those who do not eat goose on St. Martin’s Day shall go hungry all year round,” I guess I’ll lose weight since we didn’t find any goose.
When the Hardmans asked if I wanted to go I didn’t have to think long before I said yes. I knew that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity since they had everything planned out. They knew which museums they wanted to see and of course he actually speaks Hungarian which is surprisingly useful in Hungary. In particular it helps to read plaques and inscriptions of the type often found in museums. How else would I have known that those particular wines are good “in the company of women”? Or that the curator was encouraging us to take our picture holding the stuffed bear’s hand rather than chastising us for some infraction? My only regret is that I didn’t have my camera (though most museums didn’t allow pictures anyway). I hereby apologize for the lack of pictures. Instead here’s a map of my adventures.
We began by going to the Közlekedési (Transportation) Museum which is right on the edge of the city park and perhaps 4 blocks from my house. I hadn’t gone yet because I didn’t think it would be that interesting, but I am definitely going to take Rachel when she gets here. They had everything from trains, planes, and automobiles to a model of Columbus’s Santa Maria and a Kocsi Kocsi, which is to say a Coach Coach. It may surprise you to know that the word coach comes from the name of the Hungarian town Kocs (cs makes a ch sound) famous for it’s coaches with steel suspension in 15th century. Not only did the museum have some gorgeous coaches and beautiful saddles but they also had some exquisite wooden model trains. Definitely worth another unhurried look in the near future, especially since it only costs 200 Ft!
Next we walked through the park to the Agricultural Museum which is housed in a castle originally made of cardboard and modeled after Vajdahunyad Castle in Transylvania (which of course was once part of Hungary). I personally love the building, and the wine presses were amazing, but the rest of the museum wasn’t as interesting as the Transportation Museum.
Next, we took the metro and one of the special Museum buses and headed to the Sziklakórház. The Hospital in the Rock is a secret hospital in the mountain under Buda Castle used during World War II. That’s about all that I know since we decided not to wait in line. We would’ve had to wait for over an hour and probably would have gotten in about 15 minutes before it closed. The fact that tickets are normally 3000 Ft is apparently enough to get people to wait in line. It’s okay though because Rachel will enjoy it once she gets here.
From there we took the bus, tram and metro over to Hungarian National Museum, better known as the Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum. Although I didn’t literally kick or scream when they kicked us out, I was reluctant to leave despite the fact that by this time I was quite tired. It was simply amazing–exactly my kind of museum. Lots of armor, weapons, books, scepters, crowns, coins, jewelry, etc. not to mention the building itself. We didn’t even begin to see it all. I can’t wait to explore this one more.
After they kicked us out at midnight we went to the Metro, only to find that it was already closed. So much for the easy way home. We decided to walk about 4 blocks to catch the tram at Ferenc Körút. Unfortunately, we walked the wrong direction and ended up at Astoria, where we hopped on a bus that looked like it was going in an okay direction (all the busses change at night and our map didn’t have the night routes). The Hardmans got off at Blaha Lujza tér to catch the tram and I rode to Keleti pályaudvar. There I transferred to a bus that looked to be going in a little better direction. I was worried for a while since I didn’t recognize any of the stops (I’ve only been to Keleti pályaudvar once), but then we got to Amerikai út and I walked the rest of the way home and went to bed after ingesting a few much needed calories. I suppose the moral of the story is, don’t worry about getting lost in Budapest at night as long as you have a good sense of direction and aren’t afraid of walking.
Oh and, St. Martin + Museums = awesome.
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