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Geneva-Budapest #2.

August 6 – 9, 2005. Southern Hungary: Pcs and Kecskemt.

So we flew to Budapest, rented a car, and set off into the boonies of Hungary, starting with Pcs down south.

We’ve been eating goose liver nearly every day. The best is soft as butter and pink inside. A good lunch today as well, those handmade little dumplings and a creamy meat stew. The meals are cheap here in the Hungarian boonies. All we two can eat at a top restaurant is under $30. Back in California I’m a pescatarian, but when in Rome… We saw a fascinating museum devoted to the work of Pcs native Csontvary. Like Ensor, also a bit fauve.

Csontvary was a self-taught artist, pharmacist by trade. Amazing work, some of it, with great scumbling, that is, lines of contrasting color lightly brushed over other colors. The guy was nuts, they say. I’m sorry to leave his pictures. A new mind to twink.

The buildings are great, like crumbling cakes, coated with 19th C ornamentation and painted yellow, pink, and pistachio.

Saw a museum of Zsolnay porcelain, amazing art nouveau, deco, ersatz bronze-age pieces too, all these artists came into the Zsolnay company over the years.

The Hungarian signs, it’s such an onslaught of bizarre words. I have very little pattern-recognition, everything has to be sounded out, and even then there’s no cognates. This sign means Women’s Bathroom, “n” being “woman,” with “ni” the possessive. I love that word n. “,” by the way, is a gender-indefinite pronoun meaning “he, she, or it”.

The next day’s itinerary: Pcs, Mohcs, Nagybaracsk, Baja, Kalocsa, Kecskemt. Nagybaracsk = big peach = Sylvia, singing, happy to be in her native land. This picture is of Baja, which is not to say Cabo Wabo. Dig the sky.

We got into the road trip rhythm. Took a ferry across the Danube at Mohcs, 12 km north of Croatia. I rode a ferry across the Ohio River when I was four or five, I was awed and a little frightened. This ferry on the Danube was cool, too, though the ride not long enough. I was proud that I could buy the tickets. I have better luck speaking German than English in the boonies. And I know a few dozen words of Hungarian.

The streets had little shade trees, unusually long-branched leafy trees, maybe elms. A bearded squeegee guy haunted the parking lot, looking like a peddler from a fairy tale.

Country roads, green trees, fields of hay, corn, wheat and paprikas — the hay tidy in rolls. The skies have been pale watery blue with sweet cloud-puffs. Skies like this always remind me of when I was a young man (32-34) on a grant in Heidelberg, learning to write science fiction novels(White Light and Software).

We saw fields of finger-like Hungarian peppers destined to be ground into paprika; we even visited a paprika museum in Kalocsa. They only started using paprika in Hungary in the 1700s. The pepper came here from … Mexico!

So paprika peppers are cousins of our friend the jalapeo and serrano peppers. What did the Hungarian use for spice before paprika, I wonder.

Lots of peeling stucco. This patch looks more or less like the map of Hungary. They have, I believe, seven neighboring countries. Listed clockwise, starting at the west side: Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia. I think many Hungarians consider all of their neighbor countries somewhat shady, always with the exception of Austria.

Genetically, the Hungarians a kind of pond of Magyar genes overlaid upon the indidgenous Slavonic and Germanic tribes; the Magyars showed up in, like, the tenth century, settling and interbreeding, horesemen riding in from the Carpathian basin north of the Black Sea. In Budapest there's a statue of the nine “heroes,” representing the leaders of the nine nomadic tribes who settled Hungary. They have great names: Arpad, Tetny, Ond, Kond, Eld, Huba, and Tas. They have beards, mustaches, long hair; they look like Hells’ Angels. Arpad was the leader; that's him on the first horse. As it happens, my father-in-law's name was Arpad.

We ended up in Kecskemt, means “Goat Walk.” So many European churches paint God as a triangle, often with an eye inside like on the dollar bill, but sometimes with God’s head. I’m thinking about a godlike dark-matter being shaped like a triangular pyramid (tetrahedron) containing an eye, and ’s name is Aum. Aum will free Sol system of the filthy nanomachines.

I have known Hungarians to say things on the order of, “Hearing my child’s sweet voice singing that lullaby was like a knife in my heart,” meaning that the experience was exquisitely touching and almost unbearably wonderful, tinged as it was by the awareness of looming mortality. “Do you love me?” “Seeing your face is like a knife in my heart.” This is known as Hungarian Drama; I'm prone to myself by now.

This is a really gnarly snack I bought at a market, the woman claimed it was marzipan (almond paste), but I dunno. It was flavored with cherry, wrapped in dried apple and rolled in poppy seeds. Like a fork in my stomach.

We went into an amazing Hungarian Art Nouveau building with, like, Peter Max tiles on it, big Zhabotinsky scrolls. Though I didn’t get any pictures, there are really a lot of Hungarian Art Nouveau buildings in a somewhat heavier kind of style than French or Belgian Art Nouveau.

3 Responses to “Geneva-Budapest #2.”

  1. Rudy Says:

    Comments are turned on again.
    I had a fix to block the sp*mm*rs, but now I see it disabled all comments.

  2. Steve H Says:

    Rudy, you needn’t take ‘seek the gnarl’ quite so far as to ingest the gnarl as well. That snack was probably made of the omnipresent paprika, and probably opened up into some fractal form after you ate it. It may have even been a blivet in your stomach.

  3. art-noveau Tom Says:

    That art noveau window was really beautiful! I guess you know this style was initially called the “Mucha style” after its inventor – Alphonse Mucha…

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