Fruhlingfest (Spring Fest)
Dachau Concentration Camp
Mike sleeping in the restaurant booth
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Last weekend, I went to Budapest with my cousin Mike and my roommate Mike. This trip was more meaningful than just some random person wanting to see the city. For me, I accomplished something that I have always wanted to do; I met the rest of my family, the side that was forced to stay behind during the '56 Hungarian Revolution. My father and his parents were the only ones to flee the country before the Revolution picked up and turned ugly. When I arrived, it was late wednesday night, so we all took a taxi to the hotel. The next day, we got a nice breakfast in and took a bus to the city centre, then we walked to the top of a hill where there was an amazing view over the entire city. Just standing there, looking over the Pest side and the boat-filled Danube river, was awesome. After walking around for awhile, I met up with my cousin Bondi, who I had not seen since '93. Now, he's 24 and studying business finance at the Budapest business and economic school. While he and I caught up, we walked around the same area more, just enjoying each other's company. Bondi is actually one of the few relatives that can speak english, which paid off because my cousin Mike is the only other one that can speak Hungarian fluently. Then we all piled in Bondi's car and drove down the hill to eat in a restaurant. I got goulash, which was a must, and a chicken dish with apples and a cheese sauce. We then went to a giant park to walk around a castle and explore Hero's square, which had all the statues of important Hungarian military figures. Later on, we walked around the shopping district so I could pick up a Puskas jersey, the biggest soccer legend in the country. Bondi then drove us back to the hotel and we got ready for dinner at my great aunt ZsuZsa's house (my grandmother's sister). I had met her before, but had not seen her since '93 as well. She could not have been happier when I walked through the door. She immediately said I had filled in, since the last time she saw me, and also looked like my dad. Talking to her and eating the food she made for us, made me feel like I was at home, well in Cleveland at my grandma's house. I ate so much that I felt as if it was Thanksgiving all over again. Just the most full I have been in the longest time, I almost passed out right there. Then Bondi came over and we all sipped on some palinka, a liquor made up out of fermented fruit. It had such a big burn going down, I could not understand how everyone else could drink it so easily. Soon after, Bondi took us guys out to experience the nightlife of Buda. The night was really fun, and I was able to meet Bondi's brother, Olic, who I was meeting for the first time. Those two also have another brother, named Nico, who is on the Hungarian National fencing team and was in Turkey fighting in a the junior world championships. He will most likely appear in the London Olympics in two years., which will be really cool to see. The next day consisted of just more sightseeing on our own, without any relatives, biking around a large park on an island in the middle of the Danube. We left the park in the middle of the afternoon to make an early dinner at my other great aunt's house, Kari, who I met around '93 like the other two. She was ecstatic to meet me, just jumping for joy because it had been the longest time since we last saw each other. She had made my favorite Hungarian dish, chicken paprikas, and it was even better than when I had it last. She showed me so many pictures of when she last saw me and shared stories about my dad. That night, we decided to not go out because we had a wicked late night and could not fathom drinking alcohol, especially palinka. The last day was very fun because I met my dad's second cousin and first cousin. They drove up from Kecskemet, about an 90 min drive from Budapest. That was the part of the family that came from where my dad was born, which meant more to me cause I wanted to get a close as possible to where my roots stemmed. Two hours after sharing pictures with each other, we headed into the centre to meet up with my dad's other second cousin (Laszlo) and his new wife for lunch. That was really fun, because I had seen him back in '98, and we had some fond memories from when he stayed at my house. Following the long lunch, Laszlo drove us back to hotel where we met the people I met in the morning for one big goodbye. After saying goodbye, I hung around the hotel till the taxi picked us up to take us to the airport. I really did not want to leave because this entire trip made me feel like I was home, and that the family around me was around me my entire life. I was so glad that I took the opportunity to meet the rest of my family because it was uncertain as to when I would have the chance again to meet/see them. Such a fun trip and great time. I will make sure to return within five years and come back knowing more Hungarian, so I can hold a decent conversation, rather than forcing my cousin to translate 24/7.