Sunday, March 23, 2014

The city is alive again

Spring arrived a couple of weeks ago in Budapest. With the turn in weather, so too does the city change. People are everywhere. It's as if they are coming out of hibernation. People are happy. If someone bumps into you accidentally, instead of wandering off with that blank stare of winter dread, they smile and say bocsánat. The cafés are putting their tables and chairs onto the streets. Walking down the sidewalk once again involves going through diners. The boats are cruising the river and tourists are looking at maps. The sun is out. The warm weather brings out joggers, bikers and picnickers. The tram stop at Margaret Island is buzzing anew. Flowers are blooming, trees are budding and I have Dutch tulips popping up in my flower boxes. Our terrace is in use, even now as I write this. Spring is here and the city is alive again.

A few pictures of a Saturday walk with my camera in tow.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Hungarian Revolution Day

Today is Hungarian Revolution Day. It's a celebration of an important day back in 1848. In the current political climate, it's a day that prompts several political demonstrations, bussing in of demonstrators from the countryside and an increased reaction of blatant prejudice. This can be seen on the streets, trams and throughout the city.

Today we encountered some Roma racism that made us get off the tram a couple stops early and catch the next one. Passing one of the major squares we saw people setting up for the Jobbik Party rally. Their supporters gathered on corners here and there baring political symbols from the days of World War 2 that scare everyone outside of Hungary and some Hungarians too. Being that it's election time in Hungary right now, Budapest is in high political fervor. Today that fervor crept out from the corners it sometimes hides in. This political atmosphere makes me feel like I'm back in time in the first half of the 20th century. I imagine the political views of many Hungarians today are somewhat the same as they were back then, and we know how that ended... the genocide of thousands of Hungarians.

On this holiday new laws also came into effect... You can no longer take pictures of people in public unless you have the consent of those in the photo. That means when you're at Buda Castle or Parliament or any other beautiful site in Budapest, you can't snap a photo if someone you don't know is in it. You have to first ask their permission. Really? Great for your tourism industry Hungary.

So happy Hungarian Revolution Day. Hungary, I urge you to remember your leader, Kossuth Lajos, who led this revolution and actually hoped to make a multi-ethnic federation along the Danube. He fought for minority rights in Hungary. This is what I choose to celebrate on this day... equal rights for all people in Hungary.