Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto??


Squatting on the Danube, Budapest was a royal heart of the Habsburg Austia-Hungarian Empire

Budapest, much like Minneapolis/St. Paul, is a twin city. To the east on the flats lies Pest; Buda, on hills across the river. A humid climate and pollution mean that the Buda hills are not always clear, but often they are, and from the heights above the city you can look down at this scene of the Houses of Parliament. I first saw Budapest coming down by train from my campsite about 10 miles north of the city. You turn and cross the Danube on a bridge, and there, my jaw dropped as surely as Dorothy's must have when she first saw Oz. Budapest is such a refreshing difference from other ponderous, eastern European capitals sterile with socialist architecture and concrete apartment blocks. The Hungarians, always restless under Stalin's yoke, as 1956 testified, were not about to let centuries of music, song, theatre and sport be smothered by communist theology. Northern Hungary is hilly and covered with vineyards, acres and acres of sunflowers, and beneath the hills, caves that are fascinating. [Spelunkers should head east around the Bukk NationalPark]. The air is hot and humid under windy Magyar skies. The ghoulash was, interestingly, not as hot I had in East Germany, but still was good. The Hungarians, like their neighbors (and former citizens) the Austrians, are a happy, outgoing, bright people. I am sure none were happier to see the iron curtain come down, even if the Hungarians were put off by the prices in Austria, which were six times higher after I crossed the border on a tour many years ago. Culturally, politically, and geographically linked, don't be surprised if in the next century of European alignment, these two small countries attempt to re-establish their old Habsburg glory. Just what Europe need...another Kaiser!!!
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