Home time

21:00 Paul Robinson 0 Comments

April 12th, 5।55pm, Budapest Airport
After the elegance of Alexandra Bookstore, I had lunch in the much less glamorous MacDonalds. It's not a regular choice, but the money was running low and I was getting tired of trying to work out menus. A big mac is a big mac wherever you are. To be fair, I've been stealing plenty of Macdonalds wifi across Europe so it's about time I handed over a few coins.

My final activity on the interrailing trip was to visit the Terror Museum. It is housed in the building which was used by the Hungarian secret police during the Communist regime. The museum's exhibition illustrates the Nazi and Communist occupations of Hungary and highlights the suffering given and received by Hungarian people. I thought the museum was brilliant, one of the best I've been to. Each room was excellently put together and made a simple point, which culminated in a very powerful story being told. My favourite example of this is as you walk through an exhibition room you 'discover' that the room is actually being bugged by the police.

The exhibition is over three floors and the final floor in the basement can only be accessed by a staff controlled lift. The lift moves very slowly whilst a video plays inside the lift. The video describes in detail the process of execution favoured by the regime. Being trapped in a lift with no escape, you cannot help but be moved. Once finished in the lift you then enter the basement, which is a mock-up of the prison cells and torture rooms and it's pretty shocking.

I left the museum profoundly touched and in a sombre mood. Perhaps it wasn't the best note to end the trip on. I went for a walk up through Heroes Square and took a few more photographs before collecting my bag and heading for the train station.

I am now convinced the ticketing staff in Hungarian stations sourced solely from an arsehole factory. I joined a queue in the station in order to buy my train ticket to the airport. Once it was my turn, I asked the lady for a ticket to the station. I'd practised the guidebook Hungarian phrase and also tried in English. She failed to look up from her screen and mumbled something in barely audible Hungarian. I asked her to repeat herself but she just stared at her screen and mumbled. She made no effort to make eye contact or even begin to resolve the situation, despite the language barrier. Anywhere else in the world the staff would ask for assistance, mime or point, but not here. They are intentionally difficult but eventually I found someone who could help me and I could finally get to the airport.

The train departed, I stared out of the train window and I was shocked by what I saw. All along the rail line homeless people lived in ramshackle huts made from boxes and carrier bags. There was litter everywhere and outside of the city centre, the buildings were crumbling everywhere. I've never seen such poverty on display. There are some real problems in Hungary that I don't even begin to understand. The public services are swollen with people who have no motivation because they are working for tiny salaries. The ones with jobs however are the lucky ones. Hungary has had moments of great history and has produced some of the most talented composers, scientists and sportsmen around, so I'm sure it will recover sooner or later.

Nothing exciting happened at the airport. Except from another example of staff incompetence at the airport. The check-in room was basically a scrummage. The queuing ropes had been set up so that different check-in queues actually crossed each other, which is never going to work. It was pretty impossible to work out which queue was which, so I did the done thing and pushed my way to where I needed to be.

Elated, exhausted, it was time for home.

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