on May 24, 2009
If the joy of traveling is derived more from the journey and less from the destination then the Memento Sculpture Park delivers much happiness. I admit that I am doing the park a little disservice saying this but on a bitterly cold January day, I found myself squelching around the parks boggy pathways thinking that I would much rather be holed away in a café wrapping my blue hands around a mug of very hot chocolate.The journey though was an interesting one and I had expected it to be. If you go to the park website (www.szoborpark.hu - ‘szobor’ being Hungarian for monument or statue) you’re presented with no less than five options of getting there. It’s only a 10-15 minute drive outside of Budapest but assuming that few foreign visitors will be hiring a car, the bus is the natural choice. My favourite suggestion however was the "on foot" option: "a 20-30-minute walk from Kamaraerd through the woods". I’m assuming that there’s only one footpath through the woods as that’s the only direction you get. We took the less adventurous route of hopping on a tram to Kelenfold station. Kelenfold is at the end of the tramline so this first pit stop is not a hard to find. Once we arrived, a succession of posters and arrows directed us to the Volanbusz Station. The staff at the ticket counters is obviously used to the trail of uncertain foreigners coming through so buying tickets and finding the correct bus stop was an incredibly straightforward process. Additionally the bus driver knew to give us the signal to disembark, which was helpful as the entrance to the Sculpture Park is somewhat obscured from the main road.It seemed all too fitting that this assembly of communist propagandist sculptures should now be banished to a soggy, desolate corner outside of the city walls. We paid the 1500 HUF (£4.67) entrance fee and were issued two pairs of blue plastic booties to protect our shoes from the sodden paths, which kicked up mud onto our trousers even as we tramped around carefully. The park displays 42 Communist sculptures commissioned between 1945 and 1989 and displayed in and around Budapest. For examples the 6m tall Liberation Army Soldier sculpture used to stand on top of Gellert Hill so that it could be clearly seen from the city. Famous personalities on display include Marx, Engels, Béla Kun and of course Lenin. The diminutive Red Star Store offered a rather small collection of souvenirs that included t-shirts, postcards, badges and CDs. I’ve since read that there’s an exhibition in the barracks hall across from the park but the lady at the ticket counter didn’t direct us to it so we missed out on it completely if it was open. Park architect Ákos Eleod has said that the park is about democracy. It would have been nice if the staff had showed a bit more enthusiasm in promoting the park and his vision to independent visitors.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009