I just got back from Budapest, Hungary. It’s as beautiful as Prague, but much bigger, and was not destroyed during World War II. Divided by the Danube River, Budapest sits on one side and Pest on the other.
Maybe the reason the beauty of Budapest is not so well known is that it’s difficult to get to from Western Europe by car. Perhaps with the proliferation of discount airlines more Americans will go witness its beauty. I took the overnight train for the twelve hour ride, on a sleeper car not mistaken for the Orient Express.
Hungary, like the rest of Eastern Europe, was known for so long as “second world.” Just another way of saying Communism had rendered its abundantly educated people poor.
But since the Iron Curtain came down over a quarter century ago, Budapest has shown remarkable signs of prosperity. The restaurants have good food at reasonable prices, and the nice hotel suite was quite a bargain compared to rates in Germany.
Even though much of Europe is becoming more secular, in Hungary and Germany they shut a lot down during the week of Pentecost. I did visit a Hungarian dental office that was open during that week and quite busy. The equipment was modern, and the sure sign of affluence was the fact that the dentist places dental implants. The Hungarians have embraced capitalism and are enjoying its rewards.
Before the Cold War was won and the Iron Curtain came down, it was unthinkable for an American like me to venture into Hungary unannounced and freely move about. In 1980, Ronald Reagan was one of the few who thought the giant prison of Eastern Europe could be liberated in a decade without bloodshed, tank battalions, or nuclear weapons. “They lose. We win,” he said.
Thanks to America, under Ronald Reagan’s leadership, citizens in Budapest today can benefit from dental care comparable to what we deliver in America. It’s a pity our public schools don’t educate our young people about this.