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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Pest-side: Land of my Father's Ancestors

So, this is the other half of my DNA, the part I know practically nothing about. Here we also hired a private guide and gave her advanced notice of why we were there. She picked us up along with her driver, Lucasz (our third driver in Europe by that name) and whisked us off to Heroes Square. The Tomb of the Unknowns is also here, but it is unguarded, and so far that seems to be working out okay! No break-ins to speak of.

This is the Pest side of town, inland (east) from the Duna, where my ancestors lived. My grandparents emigrated from here in the early 1900s, which was the Golden Age of this place, to the Bronx. I have NO IDEA why they would have left such a magnificent city.

Their families were doctors, lawyers, musicians and engineers. My grandparents themselves were furriers. That would have been a decent job then, because all those wealthy people wore fur. And my grandfather, who was apparently mentally ill (he got locked up here in the US after my father was born) played the violin. Fat lot of good it did him. The only reason I can think of for having left here in the early 1900s was that someone was already nuts. However, that said, Hungary had a pretty bad 20th century between 1914 and 1989, so the American branch of my family avoided that at at any rate. I guess things happen because they're supposed to, but in 1902 wild horses couldn't have dragged me out of Budapest.

Oh, look. Here are some now:

This park, which is right behind Heroes Square, is, and was a rowing lake (with floating art) in the summer and an ice rink in winter. People got all dressed up in their ball gowns, tuxedos and furs and went skating here. They don't dress up so much today, but they enjoy the same things.

They also went to the public baths a lot, and they still do, just like this fellow:

Perhaps he was having this:

Joyce is a grown woman and I can't stop her from doing this stuff.

So, a great deal of the city has been restored to its former glory and whole big chunks of Budapest are World Heritage sites. It's easy to see why. But I'm not sure why they are keeping themselves a secret! It's easily accessible and very Western-friendly. We would come back here in a heartbeat and probably will whenever we get around to that Duna river cruise. More on those cruises later, because we had another one. This was our one land day. Next: Buda-side!

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