Wedding in Budapest

budapest-exterior-01-boscolo-hotelWe’ve just returned from Budapest, for the wedding of one of my oldest friends, David, who I met at university in 1986.

David, who is British, married Katalin, who is Hungarian, and they live and work in Basel, Switzerland. As you can imagine, the guest list was very international, with people from Britain, Hungary, Switzerland, Germany and France, to name a few countries. Fortunately, the international language of English made it possible to communicate easily. And of course, everyone we met wanted to know what we thought of Brexit.

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Steve and Margarita at the wedding

The wedding took place in the recently-restored Boscolo Hotel, a nineteenth-century palace and site of the famous New York Café.

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Steve and boys in the Boscolo

As well as the wedding itself, we had time to visit some of the historic sights of Buda and Pest, including the beautiful Parliament building, Buda Castle, and the white turrets of Fisherman’s Bastion. Walking around this beautiful, historic city, it’s hard to believe that much of it was destroyed in the Second World War.

Parliament Building with Steve and the boys

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We walked the promenade along the River Danube and crossed the iconic Chain Bridge, but we didn’t have time to try out the famous thermal spas. We did however, indulge my wife’s dark tourist tendencies by visiting the museum dedicated to the victims of Fascism and Communism, as well as the Square where Russian tanks brutally crushed the popular uprising of 1956, and even an underground Cold War nuclear bunker.

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Visiting the gothic-revival Parliament building reminded me of my own brush with Communism. Many years ago, a young Steve and David travelled to Hungary on a cheap InterRail travel pass, and made the mistake of stopping to eat our lunch on the steps below Parliament. We were moved on by angry soldiers pointing machine guns at us. That was in 1989. A few months later the Berlin Wall fell, and the Hungarian Communist Party announced that it would hold free and democratic elections the following year.

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A lot has changed since that time. There are still soldiers outside Parliament, but they no longer carry machine guns to scare away tourists. Instead they put on displays for tourists and pose for photos to be taken. The whole city has changed for the better – it has come alive. Budapest was always a beautiful, historic city. Now it has reclaimed its rightful place as one of the great European capitals.

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16 responses to “Wedding in Budapest

  1. Wow, interesting place for a wedding 🙂

  2. Interesting place indeed. I’m a little jealous that it’s cool enough for you guys to wear long sleeves and jackets in July.

  3. Looks amazing! Would love to visit any hotels you’d recommend?

  4. I served in the Soviet army in Hungary. It wasn’t in Budapest, though. Some small village 2 miles form the Balaton lake. 1987-1989, right before the Soviets pulled out the troops. I was told that in 1956 the locals killed all the Soviets in our base. Only 2 people survived. We couldn’t go on a leave into the city and spent most of the time inside the base. Balaton is a beautiful resort place, but in two years, I never saw it closer than from 2 miles away.

    • The museum in Budapest made no mention of Soviet soldiers being killed (at least in the sparse English translations) and I admit that I hadn’t really considered that possibility. Looking back at the 20th century, there was so much wasted human life and human potential that it’s impossible to comprehend. I fear that we are slowly sleepwalking into a new East-West conflict and that no politician in Europe, America or Russia is looking beyond their own border.

      • I agree which is one of the reasons we should be mortified for leaving the EU. We need to work out things without conflict- just look at the mess in the Middle East. Everyone makes their own hell.

      • I think, this “conflict” is like a gorilla chest-thumping. A display of strength – not more. In Russia, the purpose of it appears to be purely domestic. With oil prices going down, Russia faces huge economic difficulties, and the best way to distract people is to have “a small victorious war” or wars. An image of an external enemy always helps to have a scapegoat for economic difficulties and to rally people around the leader.

        This tactics seems to be successful for Putin. Crimea was a low-hanging fruit. It boosted his popularity immensely inside Russia. Russian involvement in Syria, apparently, makes it impossible to resolve this crisis without Russia. Besides, it exacerbates the refugee problem weakening and splitting Europe. The food import embargo also works well for Russia. It protects Russian food manufacturers from competition and also creates a surplus of food in Europe weakening Ukraine’s strength as the “Europe’s bread basket”. Food prices go up and the people suffer, but they don’t seem to mind as long as Mother Russia is “victorious” and feared. As for a serious military confrontation between the West and Russia, it will not happen, IMO.

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