On my last day in Hungary Emilia took me to the “tourist market” where we abstained from purchasing anything, and simply observed. We had done our shopping already at a more traditional market where I tried all kinds of Hungarian treats like Lángos: essentially fried dough with fresh garlic and my favorite, Pogácsa: a scrumptious bite sized biscuit with cheese and often potato mixed into the dough. About two hours outside of Budapest we stopped in the smaller city of Szeged, which was comparatively quaint and busting with students from the University. Szeged is famous for it’s Halászlé, otherwise known as Fishermen’s Soup. At the best restaurant in town, we split a large bowl of the delicious scarlet colored soup. The waiter gave us large red bibs, which I donned unabashedly after Amelia explained the tradition. Still in sight of the Serbian border, Emilia and I switched seats, and I entered a Eastern Europe country in the drivers seat for the first time.
March 15th celebrates the Hungarian revolution of 1848. Despite widespread discontent with the recent actions of the government, Budapest was filled with Hungarian flags held high and the voices of the exuberant masses. At one point during the march I was informed that the crowd was yelling “Fuck the Government!” If not for my friend’s translation I never would have known this, people appeared to be in high spirits and their voices did not sound aggressive at all. Some of the older revelers were dressed in the garb of the mid 19th century, when the revolution took place, while others of my generation sang American rock songs such as “We will Rock You!” It was a very amicable, and somewhat eclectic gathering of thousands of proud Budapest citizens.
I didn’t know there were 2 sides. Buda came thousands of years before Pest. Buda has History, Pest is Fashionable. While Buda was Roman, with Prestige and violence abound, Pest was Agrarian, still growing up. It is a separation of Young and Old, assigned existence on their respective sides of the Danube. I was told the older, more refined part of town was superior. I disagreed. The Young, wild side captured my heart by a mile. That wasn’t the first time. I doubt it’s the last.