Hungarian Parliment

Budapest: Western on the outside, Eastern on the inside

September 23-29, 1999

Bridge over the DanubeAt first there really didn't seem to be that much different about entering the former Eastern Bloc. They had billboards for Office Max just like the rest of the western world.

Adam and Hojne   

We were put up in grand style by friends of a friend. Henry's buddy Adam from Middle School is friends with Hajni who lives here.





Noime and Ferenc   

Her brother's girlfriend Noime moved out of her apartment for five days so we could stay there.

Is this hospitality born of a culture of scarcity? We began to wonder.

Henry ferries supplies   

They have the oldest subway in Europe. The trains are clean, come often and on time.

But as we began combing the city for certain supplies, we discovered some things are hard to find, like professional film and contact lens solution. Here Henry stocks up on non-sparkling bottled water.

Zen Monk and Palm Pilot   

But as fast as it can, Hungary is embracing the west, adding its offerings to its own mix. We met this Zen Monk. He took down our URL on his Palm Pilot.

Money exchanger   

The Hungarian Forint is easily convertible. You can do this into any one of the other European currencies without trying to speak Hungarian to a bank teller.




Unintelligble McDonalds   

Hungarian stands out among the tongues of Europe. It's so different from every other language, it's not even of Indo-European derivation. Though we tried, we never learned even how to say 'hello.'


Jewish Synogogue   

Our schedule didn't allow us a lot of sight seeing during the day, but we did manage to see the main Jewish Synagogue, the second largest in the world, which also has a small museum.

Henry in a Yamaka   

They let anyone in who'll pay, but all men gotta wear a hat.






Soap from Brains   

The museum has a bar of soap the Nazis made from the brains of slaughtered Jews. It's on display in a spooky room with the lights turned down.

Holocaust Monument   


Behind the synagogue lies the Holocaust Memorial. Made like a metal willow tree, each leaf bears the name of a victim.

Balkan Folk Band & Dancers   



Our nights had more time free. We spent most of them in the Balkan and Hungarian Dance gatherings that happen almost every night somewhere in the city.

Swirling Hungarians   


We know Balkan pretty well, but not too much Hungarian. The circle dances are fast and look like a lot of fun.

Dancer and remote e-mailer   

Knowing the dances meant some people introduced themselves. Our friend here e-mailed us in front of our eyes using his fold out cellular phone/palmtop computer.





Henry & Kathleen Dancing   

Hungarian musicians   







Turkish Baths   

But before we left Budapest, we knew we needed to take some time out to experience one of their unique pleasures: Turkish Baths.

Like the Romans   

Having seen the ruined baths in Bath and Rome, it was amazing to bath just as those ancients used to, except without togas.


They have three temperatures: Hot, Tepid and Freezing. They also have saunas that'll fry the skin off 'ya. Folks go straight from the scalding sauna to the freezing pool, then on up the temperate baths until they're ready for the sauna again. We did this a couple of times and felt healthy, clean, and exhausted.

Outside baths   



Playing chess outside   

Outside, another crowd enjoys the wide open sky and floating in the hot water engaged in their favorite pastimes.




Cleaning the Baths   

Look at the remains of Roman Budapest


Back to Hungary Page

   Hungarian Mountains







Home Page || Meet Kathleen & H. Woods || Purchase Photographs
Kathleen's Fine Art Photography || H. Woods' Reading Room
Our Favorite Links ||