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Posts Tagged ‘Hungarian Uprising’

Another post in my ongoing series of Cold War Europe:

It’s only about 130 miles from Vienna to Budapest, but during the years I lived in the Austrian capital, during the Cold War, Budapest, part of the Soviet East Bloc, was in many ways located in another time and world. You can take a hydrofoil there now on the Danube, fly, drive, sip a glass of wine on high-speed rail–I suppose you could even navigate a hot air balloon there from Vienna if you wanted.

That is now. Time was, however, when those hundred-plus miles took days of preparation: getting the right visa with the right stamps, making train and hotel reservations, changing money, but not too much. As I recall, you could take a small amount of forints into the country, but the Hungarians wanted Western currency. Ultimately, you needed to change Austrian schillings or American dollars inside Hungary where the rate was much higher. The language is also daunting–a distant relation to Finnish or Estonian with little Latin or Greek to hold onto for the non-speaker. Igen, “yes,” is about all I can muster now. (more…)

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