The Hungarian Parliament is the main governmental building for Hungary. It is like the White House and US Capitol Hill all in one. We decided to take the guided tour to see the inside.
Because it's the main governmental building for the whole country, security was strict. You couldn't approach the building to buy tickets without asking a guard for permission first. Then you had to exit the premises and wait to be escorted by another guard to go through security screeners, like they have at the airport. It was right about this time that I realized the SOG assisted-open knife (that someone might mistake for a switchblade) I always carry with me was tucked in my pocket....
I couldn't exactly run home to drop it off and I apparently didn't think quickly enough to stick it in the bushes somewhere for later retrieval, so I tucked it into a zippered pocket in the stroller. I figured since the stroller would get collapsed, and there would be a long line of bags to pass through the security machine, they'd probably overlook it. Naturally, Karen not knowing I had done this (it's always better when you smuggle to keep the innocents uninformed!) put the stroller through the machine just the wrong/right way so the knife was on the very top.
There's no way they could miss it. But they did... no problems. I also discovered after I went seperately through the metal detector that I beeped because of my steel toed boots. I just pointed to my shoes and shrugged my shoulders and they waved me on. So I could have snuck in the knife and much worse too! Fortunately, their crack security must train with TSA airport screeners. But the security that followed us through the whole tour did remember to tell one guy not to sit on a plain chair in the crown jewel room. What was the chair there for anyway?
Here's the main entry hall. With a lot of stairs. Guess who gets to lug the stroller up?
Here is the royal cornoation crown, scepter and the coronation sword. They are about 1000 years old, but no one knows the exact date. The cross on top of the crown is bent. They don't know the reason why, but assume it was dropped or put away incorrectly inside of its case at some point a long time ago. Who ever messed it up probably didn't live to tell the tale... There is another theory that the angle of the cross matches perfectly with the inclination of the earth. I prefer to think the cross is angled so the King can easily point at people without using his hands.
The room is very tall, and very beautiful as you'd expect. Statues which surround the room are all different emperors and kings of Hungary and they are all looking toward the crown jewels, except one -- and he just happens to be checking out the statue of Maria Theresa, the Holy Roman Empress, Queen of Hungary, Queen of Bohemia; Archduchess of Austria; Grand Duchess of Tuscany -and- mother of 16 children including Marie Antoinette...phew. She was also the one who actually governed, her husband was just the lover boy.
Here is the ceiling, ringed by stain glass windows. Ahh... let us bask...
The statues ringing this room represented the "common people" of Hungary. It's interesting how much the royalty actually thought about and at least claimed responsibility for "the commoners". All of the royal Hapsburg children were required to learn a trade so they wouldn't be lazy bums. Look at that guy in the right hand corner. What is he pointing at? "Hey guys check this out!" Notice the only person listening and paying attention to what is being pointed at is Elora. I was probably making up some elaborate story about dragons and soldiers...
And finally here is the flag flying outside the Parliment with a little plaque that comemorates a revolt against the Soviets back in the 50s where a bunch of people were massacred on this spot. The plaque has some pretty blunt and harsh words about communism. It's interesting to see how much the eastern European countries want nothing to do with communism. The hole in the flag was where the Soviet symbol was cut out of the flag and they've left it that way to this day.