Today was a really busy Tuesday in the life of a decadent housewife… I actually had plans from 9 am til 10 pm. Wowza.
The American women’s group that I joined shortly after arriving in Budapest has several activities a month, from weekly coffees to hikes in the forest. Today’s activity was a trip just outside Budapest to the town of Gödöllö, where one of the famous Hungarian royal palaces is located.
Originally built for the Grassalkovich family (I’m not entirely sure who they were, even after listening to approximately 13 audioguide sections discussing them, but they were some sort of aristocracy) in the early 1700s, it was purchased for use by the royal family in the mid-1800s and expanded several times into the large palace of today. It was one of the places Erzsebet, queen of Hungary (married to Franz Joseph I), loved best in Hungary, and since she was so beloved by the Hungarian people, a number of the rooms in the palace are reconstructed to how they were when she was in residence, with violet wallpaper and draperies everywhere. Sadly, they don’t let you take photographs inside, but the decorations were gorgeous.
Like most things in Hungary, it was taken over by the Soviets for their personal use, and nearly completely looted and destroyed. After the building was in significant decay, they no longer wanted it for their military personnel and turned it into a home for the elderly. In the early 1990s, after the end of communism, restoration began. Nearly 30% of it is still in ruin, by the looks of it, but the part that’s complete is very well done, and the audioguide gives a really thorough explanation of the history of the families who lived there.
After we toured the palace interior, we strolled through the grounds. They’re not elaborately landscaped, but the views are still beautiful.
Part of the park is dedicated to Queen “Sisi” (the nickname for Erzsebet).
Then, this evening Richie and I went to an improv night at a local theater in Budapest. Imola and Tibi, my Hungarian instructors, try to get their students together for a little bit of local culture every once in awhile. The Szkéné Szinhaz, which is attached to the engineering university in Budapest, often has programs that are either in English or that have English subtitles on a screen to the side of the stage. Tonight’s performance was by a local improvisation club called the Scallabouche Theater Company, and it was entirely in English (thank goodness!) I haven’t laughed so hard in quite a long time. Some of their acts were definitely… politically incorrect … but those were my favorite bits 🙂
Richie was called onstage as a prop at one point – he and another audience member were supposed to act out their “thoughts”, which were being broadcast to the audience by the improv members (so basically, the improv members were saying ridiculous things, and Richie and a girl had to mime the actions). Somehow Richie’s part was a Mormon in deep space trying to convert his companion to the side of good…
I was the one who “volunteered” Richie to go on stage, so turnabout was fair play. I was called up on stage at the very end of the night. I was supposed to sit there and let the improv actors try to hit on me, and I was supposed to either say “uh-huh” or snap my fingers to get them to leave if I was displeased. I wasn’t allowed to say anything else (which is good, because I’m not a funny person and if I tried, it would’ve gone badly) but it was SO HARD not to say anything but “uh-huh”!
Hans was the most successful of the four (the girl actress was a close second). I think he was actually a bit worried that I thought he was really hitting on me, though, because at the end he came up and mentioned his girlfriend wouldn’t like it if we went out! Don’t worry, Hans, my husband wouldn’t like it either.
It was a wonderful day, and I now have two potential new ideas for visitors who want to do things outside the usual sights! Who wants to go to the impro cafe with me next time? I’ll make sure you get on stage…