Keszthely: Museums, Museums, Museums!
Keszthely is a small Hungarian town of about 20,000 souls perched at the end of the country’s largest body of water, Lake Balaton, and is an overnight stop on our Trans-Europa Cycling Tour. Have you ever heard of it? I certainly hadn’t.
Paris might have the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and the Palace at Versailles but it ain’t got nothing on this town!
Model Railway Museum
My first stop was the incredible model train museum. It brought back many memories as during my childhood in Montreal, my father had transformed the entire basement of our house into a model train layout, much to my mother’s chagrin! I loved it. This layout is one of the largest in the world – the tracks total almost 3 kms in length, there are over 1000 buildings, 20 stations and 80 individual trains operating at once.
Radio & Television Museum
Next up was the Radio and Television Museum. No flatscreens here! I remember trying so hard to get those metal rabbit ears to stay at the perfect angle so that the screen wasn’t full of ‘snow’ during Saturday morning cartoons. TVs and radios have certainly come a long way but there is a certain charm about some of the retro designs on display here.
If you have ever watched, even through your fingers, the movies Chucky or Annebelle, you may want to consider bringing a few friends with you as you explore the 3 floors of dolls in this museum. One doll always seems so harmless but throw hundreds of them together in glass cases and add in some creaky wooden floors? Creepy!
Snail Shell Parliament Museum
Say you have 4.5 million snail shells hanging around? And not much to do for the next 14 years? To paraphrase Mary Oliver, “What would you do with your one wild and precious life?” Well, one woman spent it using the snail shells to make a 7 m x 2.5 m scale model of the iconic Hungarian Parliament buildings, proving once again that the line between genius and madness is a thin one.
Museum Of Historical Wax Figures
Down a set of rickety stairs, you will find a collection of wax figures. First up is a large array of creepy nuns. Once you run that gauntlet, you emerge into a musty space where Hungary’s historical figures reside in waxen majesty. They run from the leader of the original Hungarian tribes, Arpad, to the country’s first King, Saint Stephen.
Have you ever wondered about the most painful ways to be tortured? Well, the answers may lie here in this dark museum room. Reading the above methods, my thirst immediately disappeared. Additional tortures included the having people eaten alive by insects (sounds like camping in Canada), making people become rotten while still alive and the always popular, making people swallow a string!
Some people may be accused of living in the past. In this museum, you can join them. It contains an amazing collection of everyday items from dishes to typewriters to posters to bicycles and pretty much everything in between. Weirdly, the store slogan is, “Whoever enters here, abandon all hope.”
The Toy Museum is a truly incredible collection. Remember those plastic army figures you used to play with? They have a whole display of them. Toy cars, constructions sets, board games and even more dolls (must have escaped from the Doll Museum). Just about anything you might have played with as a child can be found here.
Situated right next door to the Toy Museum is the Erotic Museum (more toys, I guess). You descend down a dark stairwell and emerge into a number of rooms that confirm your sneaking suspicion that, contrary to their fusty reputation, the Victorians had much more fun. Apparently, they were in pretty good shape as well. I was exhausted just thinking about all the positions.
That made nine museums that I had visited. Somehow I still managed to miss the Georgikon Farm Museum, the Balaton Museum, the Coach Museum, the Helikon Palace Museum and the Hunting Museum. Not to mention the Palm House, the Amazon House, the Aristocratic Lifestyle Exhibition, the Helikon Library, the Travelling Aristocrats Adventures on the Road Exhibition, the Bird Park, the Palace Park, the Lion’s Well and the Princess Garden.
Phew!! I need a beer! How about a local brew made from lavender? Delicious.
Join us on this spectacular 2 1/2 month cycling adventure across Europe. The route passes through eleven countries, starting in Tallinn and finishing...