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Budapest Hungary, Trip to Remember

Dear friend Silvano and Michael my husband
    Before Budapest was Italy

Budapest is a new experience, so… It has been exhausting. Wonderful but tiring. In Paris, Italy, and Switzerland, I had a chance to understand what I was reading, what was on the menu, or what someone was saying to me. Hungarian is a beautiful language, and it is fun to hear conversations around you. Still, it is so different, with all the accented characters and additional characters… there is no hope. In all fairness, though, the people here are very kind and helpful, but it can be a bit of a struggle for them and us.
There are just so many things to see… I am glad we didn’t rush through but stayed a few days more. The city is so alive… and at night too. People stroll the boulevards and streets or sit at cafes. The Danube divides the city. Buda is on one side, and Pest is on the other. Pest is where our hotel is located. That portion of the city is flat, while Buda’s side is hilly. Buda is gorgeous at night from the Pest side. Don’t get me wrong, there is one city government, but you may talk about each area using its historical names.
We lucked out without knowing it… Budapest has a lot of activity this week as the city prepares for the Formula One Race that will run on Sunday. We got to see a practice or promotional event as they shut down Hero’s Square and fenced it off so the racers could use its perimeters; I think the event was designed to get the locals excited about the race coming to town. Another unexpected event in Budapest was a Rembrandt print exhibition celebrating Rembrandt’s 400-yr b-day. WOW! I was fascinated…, particularly by the multiple storylines he would include in most of his images. I guess … illustratively they would be the same as a sidebar accompanying a publication’s article. In tandem with this show, they curated another local artist exhibition and asked them to use the Rembrandt show to inspire their art for the show. The interactive and the video were both beautiful works. The videos were kind to Bill Viola’s work, and the interactive piece operated similarly to a periscope, but as you raised or turned the LCD monitor, it allowed you to see Rembrandt’s work and turned them into abstract or 3-D images. It was fun watching the viewers navigate the device.
In many cases, the viewers never touched the piece. For example, two older women stood before the device, reading the article describing the work but never touching it once. Another event is the billboard event that is running now; it started on August 3 with an open-air concert. These boards are assembled and run for a couple of blocks; some are replicas of actual boards that ran… the event must have open submissions because many of the panels there are in English. There seem to be several categories as well… ranging from art to social commentary… and political statements. I’ve included a few shots.

The most telling show I attended was across the square at the Müsarnok Kunsthalle… when I saw the work of Dan Perjovsch, a Hungarian political cartoonist… He entered the museum with a few Sharpies and a keen wit. The newfound political and economic systems that accompany all don’t appreciate it. He addressed it in his work, but I was also stunned by the globalization that is taking place and how quickly the major companies have moved to Hungary with all their signage, advertising, and products. Guess the world can enjoy the Éspirits, Pumas while dining at their KFC.

Today we visited the Ludwig Contemporary Museum of Art… a huge Walker. There was one exhibit that we both enjoyed… a photographic essay by ten photographers, each assigned a new member of the European Market. Excellent show… each interpreted the assignment differently. Powerful show… if you have a moment, check it out online.

Then we went to the Terror Museum… DEPRESSING! The museum was dedicated to Hungary’s recent history from the 1930s until 1991, when the last of the Soviets left. It was so hard to see what people could do to one another. The museum was the building where so many people gave up their lives. So many might have been guilty of fighting against the Nazis or resisting the government or the Soviets. Still, it came through clearly that many weren’t involved and were taken and disappeared strictly to terrorize the citizens. One of the most challenging aspects for me is that the building was in a very upper-class area and neighborhood. So this torture was going on … in the Hungarians’ midst.

Overall, the food was good, the people incredible, the hotel comfortable, and the weather cloudy and rained a bit, but the Budapest portion of the trip was great. Tomorrow will pack again and are off to Praha, which is Prague. We are looking forward to seeing it. The folks we have run it at restaurants, and Budapest’s mineral bathes say we will enjoy our stay. It will be only a 6-hour train trip.

We are tired and will not go to Vienna … straight to Prague. We’ll be there for five days