If you haven't done so, check out the beginning of my journey:
After our exhilarating time in London, we had almost a full week of no classes for us to go on more trips. We were in the same classes, and our professors either had the day off or traveled for another purpose. Early on, we saw this and planned an Eastern European vacation to see four fascinating cities. We returned to Amsterdam for one day for our classes before taking a train to Brussels for the night. It was cheaper and easier for us to take the train and fly from Brussels airport instead of going through the Amsterdam airport.
When our classes ended, we ran to get our stuff and took a late train to Brussels. It was late at night, and I had not thought about what we would do for transportation to the hotel. Thank goodness my friend was with me because she knew we had to bolt for the taxi station. She saw a taxi sitting and ran faster to make sure we got it because it was the only one in the lot. She asked how much it would cost to go from the station to the hotel and we got in after he gave us an extremely reasonable price. I had not even thought about asking how much it would cost and now have a new life lesson to use. The hotel was cheap but was not run down at all. I was stunned they did not charge more for the room because it was like a standard three/four-star hotel, yet it cost as much as a nicer hostel would. The next morning, we took an Uber to the airport and flew to our first destination- Budapest.
We did not have anything specific planned and decided to walk around the city to take in the scenery. If we saw something intriguing, we would check it out, but it was mainly us wandering around the city. In Budapest, we walked from Buda to Pest and back and I felt like I was in a summer movie. From our view of the buildings across the river, I could see the trailer playing in my head. Two college women are excited about the adventure of a lifetime as they travel through Europe. But are they prepared for the obstacles that lie ahead? Thankfully, the only obstacles we had were getting up between 4 am and 6 am to catch the train that left between 6 am and 8 am.
For the rest of the day, we walked around the area, saw the Shoes on the Danube Bank, went through Liberty Square, saw the Parliament, and ended with touring the House of Terror Museum. Everything was fascinating, but the Terror Museum was beyond frightening. My friend and I began our time in the museum seeing different forms of Propaganda and learning the history of communism within Hungary during the 20th century. Because she was more interested in history, I traveled a bit faster through the exhibit and went through the last section alone. That was a mistake.
They had an elevator take us to the basement, which had cells for the victims Communists took to be beaten and killed during the era. Immediately, I felt like I was suffocating, and my main objective was to get out. I tried to take everything in and be near people to center myself, but it was still a mental struggle. Surrounding me was countless cells—some you could not see into or had padding all around the cell—that people were forced to remain in or died in from the horrendous conditions. As I turned the corner, thinking I was close to the exit, I entered a room filled with red and standing lights. I quickly looked in the room before finding the exit and leaving the exhibit. In the end, I was shaking and about to break down crying from the intensity of being in the basement.
[bf_image id="q5pazo-1tv6nk-gdxtna"] Afterwards, I waited about 15-30 minutes for my friend to come out and asked for her reaction. She told me she saw me as I was going down the elevator and just missed me. After waiting for about five minutes for the elevator to reappear, she went down and into the exhibit. She had the same reaction as me, where it was intense, and struggled to get through it. I was grateful to learn that I was not the only one who felt that way and regretted that we did not go through it together. We might have avoided rushing through it if we had each other, but it also demonstrated the exhibit's impactfulness by our emotional reactions.
Nothing much happened for the rest of the day except us going back to the hostel. While I am grateful to have slept at a hostel (because it is common and cheap for travelers,) I would gladly pay extra for a hotel. The hostel we had was about $30-$40 for my friend and me with a two-bedroom room, but it had no air conditioning, had thin walls, and we had to leave the room to use the restroom or shower. The hostel had two bathrooms and two showers for everyone to share with the floor. Although the place was dingy, we did get what we paid for and stayed the night. After an eventful day, we were thrilled for our next stop in Vienna.