Here’s a belated photo dump from a trip to Europe- specifically the capitals of the Czech Republic and Hungary. Both were beautiful, historic places about which I knew virtually nothing, because I am an ignorant American. Fortunately I was accompanied by two friends, one of whom is an avid traveler and the other is an American expatriate living in Europe.
The trip to Prague
I flew to Prague with a single connection in Moscow. Despite all the hassles of air travel, I really like being on planes. I’ve never stopped being blown away by the fact you can get to the other side of the planet in a matter of hours by riding insider a metal tube that travels 80% of the speed of sound several miles above the ground. I also enjoy the ability to binge movies guilt free, because there’s nowhere else to go.
Sightseeing around Prague
After arriving I made my way to my airbnb rental, where I rendezvoused with the two friends that I was joining for the trip. After arriving I was hungry, so the three of us walked to a nearby restaurant. It began to rain hard as we walked there. The rain was an exotic experience for me. Anyone from LA can confirm that rain is rare, and downpours occur so infrequently that you can go years without being caught in one. We braved the rain and found a restaurant, where we had some fantastic Czech food and some unfiltered beer.
The next day we began the trip in earnest with a guided tour of the old town, which allowed us to get our bearings.
The Kafka Museum
The Kafka Museum was great, although weird. I’m not very familiar with his work. I read The Metamorphosis in high school and Investigations of a Dog in a gen ed class during my freshman year of college, but outside that assigned reading in my distant past I was totally unfamiliar with him. The museum was designed to chronicle his life in a way that drew on his style, and so the exhibits themselves were dark, moody, and confusing. Unfortunately photography was prohibited so I can’t show any photos, except for this photo of the old town taken from the window. I was into it both because the view was amazing, and because I thought whatever metaphor they were going for with the bright beautiful scene contained in a small frame and viewed from a depressing room was presumably deliberate, and probably clever, even if I didn’t totally get it.
I also bought a postcard and sent it to my brother and his husband. I felt pretty clever for parodying Kafka, even if I was being a total poser since as I already mentioned, I’m not that familiar with his work. I think the museum did a decent job of bringing me up to speed though.
My friends were more experienced at visiting Europe, and sightseeing in general, and opted to visit a bunch of historic castles and churches. I had no objection to this. If you’ve seen my photos from travelling Japan, I defaulted to castles there too.
We also visited the Museum of Communism, which has a deliberately ambiguous name. Is it intended to teach you about communism from a perspective that’s sympathetic to Marx’s ideas, or an indictment of the brutal Communist regime of postwar Czechoslovakia? In retrospect it should have been obvious that it was the second one, but I wasn’t sure. Its a decent museum but misnamed, since I think a museum focusing on a single communist country with an emphasis on the crimes committed by that government is technically different than a museum about Communism itself.
More churches. This was in a park, the name of which I forget.
Travelling to Budapest
We took the train. It was great.
Sightseeing in Budapest
Like Prague, we kicked it off with a guided tour to get the lay of the land. I learned that Budapest is actually pronounced Budapesht, and that the city is named that because its actually the combination of a village called Buda on one side of the river, and Pest on the other. Sorry for sharing basic facts that you could get literally anywhere with information about Budapest, but this was all new to me.
The city is famous for its bathhouses, which span from more traditional, to so modern its basically a pool party.
This place was beautiful, and had a great view from the dome.
After the bathhouse, we got lunch at a big market, checked out the national gallery, and visited the Terror Museum, which chronicles Hungary’s role in the Holocaust and the atrocities committed by the Hungarian secret police. It did not allow photography inside so I can’t show you photos, but I did not care for the museum. At the risk of sounding like an ugly american, the fact that the exhibits were exclusively in Hungarian made it hard to understand, even with the guided audio tour. Additionally, it was less of a history museum and more of an installation art museum themed with atrocities. The exhibits were pretty hard to understand, and rather than showing off specific artifacts or explaining what happened during that period, the rooms were highly stylized and totally indecipherable to me. My friend really liked it, probably on account of being knowledgeable about history and not needing the actual facts taught to her. If you are like me however, you will likely not get much out of this place.