July 24

24 July, Hungary – ‘All Over The Place – Europe, Part 2’

I like Budapest a lot. Had a great day off at the ridiculously ornate baths in the park up the road from our hotel, and another fascinating day learning all about Hungary’s grim past at the ‘House of Terror’ (the old headquarters of the secret police).

This morning AOTP veteran Barney Harwood arrived fresh from ‘Blue Peter’. Barney was an integral part of our first 3 series, but since then ‘Blue Peter’ has kept him too busy for us to get our hands on. Before he met up with us over lunch I had already made my way to today’s location – The Hospital In The Rock. It’s located in a centuries old network of tunnels just over the river in Buda (Budapest is actually 2 cities – Buda and Pest). Built in the 1930s, the hospital was kept secret and used by the Nazis, then later converted into a nuclear bunker by the Soviets.

A lot of money was clearly spent on the place, and you could see how it would function perfectly as a hospital. They had operating theatres, X ray rooms and all sorts of other medical stuff dotted along the twisting corridors. Ironically, when you build a hospital under ground it tends to have one fatal flaw – it makes people ill. The guides were telling us that because it’s hard to ventilate they all get colds and flus quite often!

Once we’d hooked up with Barney we escaped the heat once again (Eastern Europe is currently gripped in a heatwave) and explored more of the hospital. We even came across a helicopter air ambulance that has been rebuilt down there for reasons I wasn’t entirely sure of. To round off the day we shot a quick sketch pretending to be two of the wax works that are dotted throughout in all sorts of surprising places. A disconcerting number of them look like me…

Once we got back to the hotel our Hungarian fixer Clara very kindly took Barney on his own personal tour in her car round Budapest and he was equally impressed with the place as we all have been. I’m definitely coming back here one day…

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