Tuesday, 26 August 2014


We had three days in Budapest and the place certainly grew on us. We arrived on a national holiday so the centre was buzzing with people. Quite a shock to the system as we hadn't really seen any crowds in Romania at all. 

We were there for Tracy's birthday and it was very decent of the city to set off 30 minutes of fireworks on our first evening to celebrate with us.

On her birthday, the following day, Tracy had decided she wants to visit some Communist propaganda so we went to 'Memonto Park'.

Someone had had the foresight to save many of Budapest's Communist statues in the early 1990s and a couple of dozen of them are now on display. Lots of symbolism, or so Tracy told me.

 You just can't keep a Drama teacher quiet.

 I've never seen Lenin as a kind of Buddha before.

  Ah, maybe that's why it's called Budapest?

 This used to be an 8 metre high statue of Stalin but it was torn down during the 1956 uprising. All that was left were his boots. 

More pictures of Tracy on her birthday in Budapest.

 This fountain played music. Although I don't think it was quite as exciting as she's making out!

 The very impressive Parliament building. We went inside on a tour

This was an interesting little thing. Hungary is obviously tying to come to terms with its past. ( Fighting on the losing side in two world wars, it's role in the Holocaust... This memorial, behind the fountains is campaigning against the airbrushing of Hungary's role in the Holocaust. 

The Nazis occupied Budapest from March 1944 to January 1945. They set up a Ghetto in the city in the November and in that time the Jewish population was reduced from 200,000 to 70,000.

I think now questions are being asked about how complicit the Hungarian Government was in all this. It's interesting to note that in 2006 the last remaining part of the Ghetto wall was demolished. ( Trying to erase the past??)  This is what is being demanded in this memorial protest behind the fountain. Demanding that the democratic Hungarian government remembers and acknowledges its past. 

So this is how we needed our tip, wandering around Budapest looking at old stuff and thinking about History. 

I dropped Tracy off at the airport on the Saturday morning and as she flew home I started the 1,000 mile ride back. I stopped off in Slovakia, and Czech Republic for a day each to look at a couple of castles and then, using a motorway for the first time on the whole trip, rode across Germany and in to Belgium. I'm writing up this final report in Dunkirk having ridden 250 miles through pouring rain to get here today. My final day's riding on the continent being the most unpleasant. 

Heidi must have known we were near the end as well. Coming in to Dunkirk she decided to play up and informed me that my rear light wasn't working. Having caused me problems on day two of the trip with a red warning triangle light and now this, I'm beginning to wonder. Although I have to say that she performed brilliantly throughout the 32 day, 4,000+ mile trip. 

 Ready for the last days, wet, ride through Belgium. 

So- that's it. 

One month, a dozen countries and 4,000 miles. These might be the facts but there're not the story!

Next year - The Balkans! 

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