Still Here, Budapest

I just enjoyed my second white chocolate hot chocolate of the day. It’s amazing, and basically like melted white chocolate in a glass, parading as a drink.

I visited the Holocaust Memorial Centre today. It was amazing, and incredibly interesting. It’s a side of history that you otherwise wouldn’t learn about, and deals with the persecution of the Roma as much as that of the Jews. I learnt a lot today.

One out of ten holocaust victims was a Hungarian citizen.

Mine fields were ‘cleared’ by Jews, the prisoners sent out to walk over the field and ‘discover’ the mines there. They were nicknamed “minesweepers – 1942 edition”.

1.3 million people were sent to Auschwitz, and 1.1 million died. 90% were Jews, the other 10% made up of Roma, homosexuals, mental patients and political prisoners. 435,000 of the prisoners were Hungarian, transported to the camp in a 10 week period in the summer of 1944. 75-80% were killed upon arrival.

The statistics were depressing, but some of the stories incredible. If you’re ever in Budapest, I recommend a visit.

The memorial centre is, in fact, built around a synagogue. The synagogue itself is beautiful, both inside and outside. I don’t know about the history of the synagogue, whether it was built to be part of the memorial centre or whether it was there before.

There was an exhibition of glass benches inside the synagogue. On the back of each bench, there was the story of a Hungarian person or family. For example, Ödön Fülöp Beck, a sculptor, disappeared during the Arrow Cross regime, a time in Hungary when the Arrow Cross – an anti-Semitic group – violently persecuted all Jews, actions including lining them up on the bank of the Danube and shooting them into the river. All for being Jewish.

After leaving the museum, I wandered back across the river, popping into a shop on the way to see if I could pick up a bottle of the local spirit for my parents.

I entered, and was immediately accosted by the salesman. I indicated that I was just looking, and instead of leaving me be, he decided to show me all the different wines he stocked. I eventually got him to leave me alone and I found the spirit I was looking for. He then noticed what I was looking at and came over to tell me all about it.

Seriously. I know what it is. Please go away.

I bought and small bottle of it for 770 Ft, about £2.50, depending where you exchange your money.

On the way back to my flat, I passed a bakery that I’d walked past in the morning. It smelled incredible, so I went in. I ended up buying myself dinner. It’s basically a pizza with hot dogs on the top and covered in cheese. It looks delicious.

And all for 260 Ft. Or about one pound.

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