Saturday, July 2, 2011

Break at BudaPest

Monika VS Hungary

After a dramatic bicycle tour-de-Hungary escapade, I crawled to the Tea House in Győr, curled up in a corner with my sketchbook, and sulked. For two days.
That won't do.... Chin up, packed my bags and fled to the capital, BudaPest, for a week.

On a recommendation I visited "The House of Terror" - a building with a very bloody past, that served as the headquarters for political parties during the Nazi and Communist regimes. Down in the Dungeon and Torture rooms, still exhausted from the bike tour I couldn't help crying. Stumbling out of their I meandered across the street, not knowing where I was going, suddenly found myself loitering in the lobby of the Budapest Puppet Theatre. A comedy was playing (thank heavens, all I needed was a tragedy) for adults, where the actors performed lots of short skits. The only times I didn't "get" it was where the meaning of a particular joke rested on one particular word - if I wasn't familiar with it, then I sat bemused in a crowd of people laughing and wiping tears from their eyes.
Afterwards the goofy stagehand led me through a maze of streets to an incredible arts bar, a decrepit building with paper maché sculptures of rabbits hanging from the ceiling in a great tumbling wave, foxes and woodland creatures frolicking in corners and above the bar, amazing black and white illustration murals on the walls, (keeping with the naughty woodland creatures theme), ivy and antlers draping the walls. One room was plastered floor to ceiling in music tableture, one was completely empty except all the furniture was glued to the ceiling hanging upside down. Stupidly I didn't have my camera with me - well, a perfect excuse to go back there later.

The next few days I spent out at SzentEndre, an artist "commune" village north of BudaPest, eating Lángos and icecream, wandering the medieval cobblestone streets, looking into little galleries, finding ancient little overgrown graveyards (napping), relaxing by the river (more napping), then Gypsy street musical festivals in the evenings (and more Lángos). On Pünkösd Sunday (Whit Sunday) I visited the Skanzen, where dancers from all over Hungary performed. I was a complete camera-stalker, trying to discreetly photograph the dancers (think of me slowly emerging from shrubbery, behind trees, etc, trying not to get caught photo-stalking the performers)
The houses were pretty wild - low roofs, tiny windows, everything crammed into one cramped little room. I found it really interesting to imagine what life would have been like (and is still like in a lot of the more remote areas) in those tiny little buildings. I thoroughly enjoyed the dancers though, in particular one that I thought was hilarious was where one of the cockier dancers had a row of girls lined up, all crouched over with embroidered blankets covering their heads and backs as they shuffle-danced around, then another dancer dressed as a "krampusz" came out (a shaggy black devil figure) and tried to kidnap the blanket-girls one by one. The main male dancer had to race after him and whack him with a stick, but since he was a cocky fellow he would usually be facing the crowd boasting about his blanket-women, and the krampusz had enough time to come and kidnap those girlies one by one. At the end when the krampusz has knicked all of the girls, the main dancers beats him to death with the stick.....


1 comment:

  1. Loving your fairy-tale European adventures. Don't drink too much coffee/dodgy Euro liquers in those cafes you're artist in residence in .


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