Published: May 29th 2009May 26th 2009
Conveniently located along two dirt roads allowing one to travel four different ways.
What a difference 48 hours makes. Instead of wandering down dirt roads, I am strolling tree shaded cobblestone lanes. There are no mosquito nets draping over my bed. No longer do I have the choice of green or brown Carlsberg but instead a variety of hearty ales brewed nearby. Traditional Malawian music has been replaced with symphonies and concertos. Gone are the how and knife instruments and in are the violin and oboe. The steady and frequent greetings and basic conversations are now a thing of the past, I am completely ignored now. When I consider how quickly things have changed, air travel seems more like time travel.
Budapest is awash in charm. The ornate, centuries old buildings along narrow SUV free roads are wonderful to stroll around and get lost in. The massive Parliament building and the 2nd largest synagogue in the world give not so subtle hints to the power once held in Hungary. It´s cafes, bakeries, picturesque river walks and beautiful architecture immediately place this capital city as one of Europe´s best. Although it is similar in appearance, Budapest still adds a touch of flavor which highlights how it´s individuality.
It starts with the language. Magyar,
or Hungarian as most people call it, is the official language of Hungary. The language is unique in mainland Europe which has made communication difficult with their neighbors but is an obvious sense of pride for Hungarians.
I have also noted that things aren't always what they appear to be. For instance their cafe's are not just places for a scone and coffee. In reality they are places where one can get a beer for breakfast. My mornings were spent in a different cafe having some coffee as my fellow customers began to put a shine on their day with an ice cold one.
As I pondered how a beer and chocolate croissant would go together, I wandered down Andrassy Ucta which is Budapest's version of the Champs de Elysee. Lined with numerous restaurants (which appeared to be real coffee shops), stores and classic architecture. It is also home to a bizarre museum called the terror museum.
The terror museum is an extremely modern museum using all types of media to share information. Dark and harrowing music pounded your eardrums as you watched the changing landscape of Hungary during the battles of World War II. The building
Never realized how large Hungary's government was.
was used by Hungarian Nazi's and later by the Russians as an interrogation and torture center. The museum covers both horrific pasts in impressive detail.
After such an uplifting experience, I planned on unwinding with an evening listening to the Philharmonic. As the first piece concluded in the State Opera House, I found my mind wandering towards two random things. One was the applause after the piece. At first it was just a normal crowd erupting in appreciation of music well played. Clapping was rampant and done at the pace of each individual. Within in 30 seconds though, the clapping turned into unison clapping of one clap a distinct pause and then another single clap. It quickly took on the tone of soldiers marching. This happened after each piece and I found it rather odd. I began to think that maybe the group clapping as one was a holdout from the Russian communist era. Some habits can be hard to break.
The other thing that grabbed my attention was the triangle player (triangulist?). The triangle always brings to mind Ed Grimly prancing about a room but in the orchestra it is a much more formal affair. The triangle
I think Pest benefited from the combining with Buda more than Buda did.
will never carry a piece of music on its own but it certainly plays a necessary and pleasant sounding role in the orchestra. As I watched the man playing the triangle sit in the back of the orchestra, I couldn´t help but wonder if he chose to play the triangle. Was it his first musical passion or had he simply failed to progress in another instrument while at the conservatory? Perhaps he couldn't get the reed to stay in place in his oboe, or his strings kept breaking on the violin. Do failing students turn to the triangle as a last resort or do they apply to music schools with the intention of performing on the triangle?
These questions left me in a state of unknown, but I did realize that I am glad that someone chose to play the triangle. To stick with a passion no matter the monetary or glamorous factors is commendable. Plus the music really did benefit from the triangle and the passion in the man striking the triangle.
There are more photos below