Two Aliens in Tokaj Pt.3

There are two main museums in Tokaj. They are not like Hungary National Museum in Budapest, or anything like that. Or at least, not as big. Both of them can be visited in less than two hours, and their location are only ten minutes from each other. So, it is worth to have a combined ticket for both in a day — cheaper.

The first one is Tokaj Museum. Of course.

It is just a bit further than the church, probably a minute walk from there. Two minutes if you are taking photos as you are walking. I genuinely cannot remember if it has a distinctive sign, but I remember that you could easily miss it if you didn’t pay attention to where you’re walking.

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The building itself was the house of a Greek trader, before it was converted into a museum. It is still well maintained, but of course you could see some parts where the fixing was made — some odd bits that you are sure not coming from the original feature of the house. To be honest, I like that kind of fixing, it gives the house a new uniqueness. You don’t see that kind of renovation happen in an old listed house in the UK.

I like this museum. The last time I enjoy a museum that feels “homey” like this was the Edinburgh museum in… well guess what, Edinburgh.

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Inside you could find the artefacts and history of Tokaj and the surrounding area. They also have a collection of religious artefacts as well as numerous interesting articles in the attic section of the building. The best thing is, we could take photos, a lot of them. The museum management told us that everything is free to be photographed. That alone has satisfied the tourist soul in me.

Outside the main museum, to the back of the building there is a small garden, and a passage to a basement. This basement used to be a wine cellar — of course. I never knew that wine cellar could be so cold. I mean, it was baking hot outside, but it was cool inside, and I honestly couldn’t see any air conditioning or something like that.

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I think, being in a wine heritage region, this museum gave an extra effort to keep as many original features in the cellar, more than they did the main house itself. It was a lovely little museum. But, if you really want to talk wine, you need to go to the next museum.

Tokaj Wine Heritage Museum.

 

 

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The Budapest Adventure Part 5

One of the first things that I made sure before I went on this adventure to Hungary was to make sure that my phone would work when we were in Hungary. All of the hotel and transport bookings and confirmation was sent to my phone number, and it would make it much easier for me if I want to contact my family. Or simply, I just like being completely prepared before embarking on an adventure.

I am not being paid to say this, but I am using T-Mobile — now you probably know it in the UK as EE. Whatever they call themselves now, but this mobile provider has a good network coverage in Europe. I don’t have to buy any extra booster to get my phone fully function in Hungary. I could just use whatever package I had at that moment and use it as if I was in the UK — which means, I could text freely, call freely, and use my internet too. No roaming charge either.

I definitely have no plan to change to any other mobile provider in any foreseeable future.

Why am I talking about my phone provider? Well… apparently this very fateful day, that has become incredibly crucial to us.

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We were on our way to our next, and our last museum in Budapest, the Aquincum Museum. To get there, you would have to get a train, which unlike the metro didn’t have either air conditioning system, nor the proper loudspeaker to tell the passenger where to get off.

I realised that we should do it in few minutes when I looked at my google map, so I told Grumpy that the next stop would be ours. Grumpy made his way, but I got stuck a little behind. Grumpy got off right on time, and I didn’t make it.

We saw the train doors closed right in front of our face, took me away to the next station and left Grumpy on the other platform. Oooh… Bugger! Now… I couldn’t emphasise the importance of being well prepared, in any kind of adventure. If my phone didn’t work, I couldn’t tell him that the museum we were going to visit was between the station where he got off, and the station where I did. Technology has saved that day… But of course, I had to have a bit of a cry, because I was incredibly terrified if I lost my beloved Grumpy among the Roman ruins of Aquincum.

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Aquincum is the name of the Roman city in Budapest. Unlike the Buda Castle hill area — which has a long history of military battle, Aquincum is the more “civilised” part of the history. Nowadays, though, you can only see the ruins, and a part of what was a painter’s house, and the vast exhibit of Roman stonework, and pottery.

You could also play with an interesting interactive games in the museum, if you want to. And of course we wanted to, and we did take part of the games… badly :D. But it was fun, and we were experts in having fun. And, after ice cream in that very hot day, we definitely have forgotten a bit about the previous train fiasco.

And there… our Budapest Adventure was concluded…

 

The Budapest Adventure Part 3

I can safely say that one of our favourite places that we visited in Budapest is this Hospital In The Rock. We like it so much so that I would dedicate this whole blog entry just to talk about our visit there.

Hospital In The Rock, like it’s name is an underground hospital during the war times, and was converted into a nuclear bunker during Cold War. It is within the walking distance from Buda Castle, and its closing time is relatively later than the museums in the Castle’s area. I think it would be a good idea if you plan ahead, and put Hospital In The Rock at the end of the day, and visit the others first.

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The entrance is not free, this time. But if you have the Budapest Card, you could get a good discount. The guided tour starts every hour, so if you time it right, you don’t have to wait for too long — they don’t have a little cafe or something for you to wait, so you have to sit on a bench while waiting for your turn. And, you HAVE to go on the tour if you want to visit this museum.

Originally I was a little bit disappointed that we had to go on a tour, because I would like us to be able to walk on our own pace. BUT, I realised that the tour is incredibly important for many different reasons.

First of all, this museum was once a hospital during the war, there are still a lot of working tools and equipment lying around there. Our guide said that if anything should happen — if a war ever broke (again), and people needs place for safety, the museum can be reverted back to being a fully functioned hospital. That’s why the tools and equipment you can see there is sometimes not a part of the museum exhibition.

And, being underground, it is very easy to be lost in this museum. So, that’s another reason why a guided tour is a necessity.

The most important thing, I think, is that this underground hospital was also once a “Top Secret Nuclear Bunker” in the cold war years. There are plenty of stuff, such as power generators from those days, still operated today. It is so tempting to “see what happens if I push this button, or pull that lever” when you’re around these technological wonders, but… no you shouldn’t.

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We are not allowed to take photos nor videos during the tour. Aside of the safety reasons, I think that is a good idea. It might make it a bit tricky for people like me to share what we experience inside, but at the same time it would make people go to see the place themselves.

Yes it is not a free museum, but even a stingy alien like myself would say that our little tour was worth every Forint. Our guide was a very friendly young lady, who speaks an incredibly good English — she was very helpful and would answer if you have questions related to the museum, or Budapest in general. The museum itself was clean and well made, the exhibits were well made too.

I definitely recommend this museum to visit if you every go to visit Budapest.

 

The Budapest Adventure Part 2

It was a very hot day, and we were very inexperienced about the European continent. After buying my third bottle of water (we don’t drink from the tap, because nobody told us if we could), I promised myself to buy a huge bottle from Aldi and equipped myself with such tool of hydration. It is definitely annoying to buy water from touristy area, knowing that you are paying eight to ten times more than you should, but you had to do it anyway or else you would die of dehydration.

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When you see this, you are in Buda Castle Hill. Houdini Museum is just on the left…
Don’t let my stinginess ruin the holiday, that’s a part of being a penniless traveller.

Where were we? Oh yes, Buda Castle.

Our first visit is Hungarian National Gallery. If you have Budapest Card, you can get in for free. You would have to keep your rucksack in the cloakroom, which is free, so it would be handy if you have a smaller pouch like Grumpy’s tourist bumbag, or my little useless milk carton bag to keep valuables, and the essentials.

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small sling bag to keep your passport, phone and some credit cards with you

The gallery housed a lot of… well… art stuff. We were really not that kind of people really. We enjoyed walking around, but honestly none of us actually understand what we were looking at. We knew some stuff are good because they were quite pleasing to look at, but some other “artistic installation” is kind of bollocks.

However, a few minutes away from the sun was always welcomed.

Not so far from the gallery, you could find the Museum of Budapest History. It is also free with Budapest Card. And you have to keep your rucksack at the cloakroom too, I am pretty sure it is more to keep the sticky fingers away from the artefacts. The museum though, was more for us.

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From the museum’s window looking out to the one of the castle’s courts… Just to give you an idea how massive the building is…
We loved it

The first thing you see in this museum is how the castle itself has changed over time, depending on who was in charge of the area. Not surprised that many buildings in Budapest has more than one architectural characteristics, as it has been influenced by the Ottomans, the Germans, and the Russians.

I have to confess something though, that the best thing I saw in this museum was Grumpy’s reaction when he saw something that interests him. The old living room set, for example — complete with a working black and white TV set. I don’t blame him for being so fascinated by it, my dear Grumpy must be so happy to remember the days before he had grown grumpy like he is today.

To be continued…

More Museums…

Edinburgh made me realised that there is a museum for everyone. I believe that there is a strong correlation between the kind of museums you enjoy, and your personal background. The British Museum and the Scottish National Museum for example, are great museums, and I know a lot of people who enjoy them. But if you ask me, I pick York’s Jorvik Museum or Leeds’s Thackray Museum every time. So, my opinion about the museums I am going to mention next is not necessarily reflect the quality of the museum, okay? It’s just how I enjoy one better than the others…

Right… Disclaimer’s done, now the museums…

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The third museum I went to was Edinburgh Museum. I saw this museum when I was on my way back from the Scottish Parliament building, it’s not far from there. Although it is small, you would spot it quite easily as the colour is bright — contrast to the other surrounding buildings.

Don’t let the size and the facade of the building fool you though. It is free, so come and have a look, you might be surprised. They have a lot… and by a lot, I mean a lot of artefacts related to the city of Edinburgh. Silverware, glassware, and ceramics… Some artefacts from war time as well. Even if you don’t like looking at stuff, you can enjoy the building too.

Ooh… I enjoyed walking around the house, among the creaking floor and wonky doors.

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The next museum was also like that. The People’s Story is only few metres away from Edinburgh Museum. It is a bit more obscure, as the facade of the building blends really well with other buildings surrounding it.

I think among the three museums, I like this one the most.

Instead of offering stuff to look at, The People’s Story offers me… well.. story. There are a lot of well made mannequin, dressed up to show how life was in the old time in Edinburgh. The best thing is, it is also from the real people who used to live in Edinburgh. I really wish this museum was bigger, so there would be more story to tell…

This museum is also free, but I think donation is very much well appreciated. They have a really funky donation box near the reception.

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The last museum before I went home was The Museum of Childhood. This museum was awarded with some tourism something, but at that time I thought it was slightly overrated. However, now I think my opinion about this museum is pretty skewed because of the situation.

Compared to the last two museums, this museum was in a much better condition. Located in a busy high street, it was crowded with at least three groups of school kids. I was expecting a museum where old people reminiscing their childhood, instead of museum full of small noisy children. So yeah, my opinion is very bias. I could have enjoyed it better when I can stop and actually look at the stuff without all the noise.

Oh by the way… I am not showing you any photo of the stuff inside. You have to come yourself if you want to see 🙂

Have fun!

The Museums…

You bet! I am going to talk a lot about my trip to Edinburgh in this blog, so if you really don’t want to hear about it, you can come back next week. You know.. like when you go decide to avoid going to any shopping centre until Christmas is over because you can’t stand listening to Jingle Bells in the background. Yea… more or less the same.

Anyway, Edinburgh… Like I said in my previous post, Edinburgh has plenty of museums. It is with my deepest regret — and I do blame the timing, that I cannot visit them all. I tried to visit those which is located near where I stayed, the ones that I though is interesting, and was open when I visited, and also… without entrance fee. Yes… interesting enough for me to take the walk, and accessible (close, open, and free of charge). Sadly.. it means I didn’t go to the Surgeon’s Hall Museum, and Edinburgh Castle, because they’re not free. I’ll save it later when I go there with Grump, or my siblings.

I visited there five Museums. I only have three days there, and also an appointment in the visa application centre as the priority in my itinerary. So, five museums, I think it is good enough.

 

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It doesn’t look like that in reality, but the panorama mode with me standing in one place makes the photo looks slightly bendy…

The first one, is the National Museum of Scotland. It is a massive stone architectural structure — I deliberately said that because “building” doesn’t cover it. It’s so massive, I don’t think you can finish looking at every single item in it in one day. Note if you want to visit this place, come early and bring something to eat if you don’t want to spend money on the cafe (hey, I am telling you how to have a fun travelling with minimum budget!).

It is like the British Museum in London, but with an awesome Scottish twist in it. There is a section dedicated for the history of Scotland and the kingdom of Scotland. So yes, if you went to British Museum before, you can now imagine how big the place is. If you like this kind of museums, I suggest you allocate a whole day in this place with rest in between. I believe they have a cloakroom, so you can have your heavy rucksack stored while you’re taking your time there.

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The next one is The Writers’ Museum. Of course! We have to go there, don’t we? It is a little bit of an effort to get to this one. The location of this little museum is a little bit hidden behind the crowded shop, just off the bustling street of Royal Mile. You could easily miss it if you don’t have your keen eye… or your trusted Google Map with you. Like I said… an effort.

Having this dream of one day being a writer myself, I made it my quest to visit this museum even before I set my foot on Edinburgh soil. I thought, I might learn something, or get myself possessed by a great writer, or something like that… However, I think it is a little bit cheeky to say that this is the Writers’ Museum, isn’t it? Because, to be honest… it is actually The Scottish Writers’ Museum — mainly three biggest writers Scotland has — Robert Burns, Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I went to this place, but definitely more than three writers (which works I haven’t even read).

My goodness I am rambling again. I think I need to save the other museums for next one, as I do really need to rest my finger to some good stuff with food. See you around.