Last Saturday evening--June 23rd--was the longest day of the year. Budapest celebrated the solstice by having their second annual "Night at the Museum" where all the museums in the entire city stay open all night long (till about 2am) and people can check out the exhibits, listen to live music and enjoy food and a night out on the town. The turnout was huge (around 200K people estimated came out) and there was a very festive atmosphere. There were a number of buses devoted solely to transporting people from museum to museum and people of all ages were out in full force. Agi and I had a fantastic time.
Initially, since the Genghis Khan exhibit was too crowded at the big museum downtown, we took the metro over to Castle Hill where there are two awesome museums. The first was the Military History museum and we (especially me) enjoyed looking at lots of weapons from over the centuries and suits of armor. There were some Hungarian soldiers out showing some (unloaded) weapons and Agi and I held what I believe to be an M60 and looked through their night-vision goggles. A military band played, some horses marched through the courtyard and then they set off a cannon.
We finished off the evening by spending several hours at the Hungarian National Museum. The highlight was that a number of students from the music academy were all playing their instruments in various rooms and offering mini-concerts. I took a video of a couple of them. My favorite music came from a trio playing a cello, classical guitar and a flute. Beautiful. (And the classical guitar reminded me of my college roommate Nate who played classical guitar and would dish out mini-concerts of his own for me in our dorm room.) A young woman playing a harp in the Medieval exhibits area was very nice as well.
It's been great getting a serious dosage of culture in us and although similar things happen in San Francisco, we've definitely enjoyed how accessible good art is here for the masses. (By the way, "buli" means "party" in Hungarian)