Thursday, 27 August 2015

Budapest: arrival and first morning,
26/27 August

Full moon from the balcony

A furious devout drench in England yesterday, indeed several bouts of it: one of those days when the sky simply empties its bathwater over us. Arriving at Stansted it was still buffeting down and parts of the car park were already flooded. We ran for the packed airport bus, got soaked through, but once in the building we slowly dried off.

Long waits at terminals are now part of the world's holding pattern. Drink coffee, nibble a sandwich, do the crossword. Wait. Wait for our friend Stephanie who is coming with us for the first three days. She arrives and we talk, then it's time to make our way to the gate. A very long queue for the Ryan Air flight but we have booked seats. The plane leaves a little late and it's dark in Budapest when we arrive at about 9:30 local time.

The taxi ride in with a fairly quiet driver. We pass the new Ferencváros stadium, Lechner's Art Nouveau Crafts Museum, then over Szabadság hid (Liberty Bridge) to the Buda side to our dear friends , L and G, who are waiting for us. We eat a quick light supper then L takes us over to the place where Clarissa and I are to stay, at the upstairs flat of M and J. J is a theatrical agent and the upstairs flat is a working office with a convertible settee. It's high modern and luxurious, all very laid on, wifi and everything.  You press buttons to bring the blind down or up. There is a little vacuum cleaner that runs about all by itself. It's beautiful. Steph, who had walked over with us to see it, goes back with L to the yellow house where we usually stay. Though tired I feel wide awake. There is a full moon so sleeping is hard and waking is easy. Bed at 01:30. I wake at dawn, rise eventually, shower, shave and put on a different shirt. The sun is out now and it is expected to reach about 30C today.

After breakfast the plan is a walk with Steph whose first visit this is. At some stage I want to see and meet the refugees camped outside the main railway terminals. Might come back this afternoon though to catch up on sleep.


Gwil W said...

The refugees will not be too happy. Found today, refrigerated truck containing between 20 and 70 decomposed bodies parked on hard shoulder just inside Austria.

Anonymous said...

Watching this develop, but never sure what the news is reporting to us. I am glad to watch it through your eyes so that I know it is true.
My heart is with them. I don't know that I would have that kind of courage. But I suppose no one knows until they have to.

Paul H said...

Was it not Krudy it who said of Buda, "Nothing ever happens there" or something similar? I love the tension between Pest and Buda and how the bridges, especially the Freedom Bridge (Szabadság híd) literally, as in actually, bridge the two. Pest is my preferred place as are the the girls of Pest, but really, you can't have one without the other. Lucky you George to be there, even if the charm of Hungary is much diminished these days.

George S said...

The Hungarian government spokesman, one Zoltán Kovács, the very man we debated with at the LSE in 2012, has declared that the death of the refugees was all their own fault and, essentially, serve them right.You will find few government less humane than this current one in Hungary.

I have yet to go to the main stations to see the refugees myself. We have been showing a young English friend round in the lat two days but there is next week and the temperature might drop a little after mid week. The city looks very good otherwise, much cleaner in the presentable parts, efficient and smooth. Somebody, it seems, ahas been making the trains run on time. Historical perspective is a gift.

Gwil W said...

The refugees may be gone by the time you get to the station. They are letting them all on trains to Vienna, it is being reported.

George S said...

The refugees were there last night, Gwilym. I was there. I wonder whether the train entering Austria had been held up in an earlier batch. But we will see. I'll go again.