i miss budapest. i miss buck. today i took a nap with his box of ashes next to me. maybe tonight i will put my bottle of carefully collected danube water under my pillow.
i sat next to a dear hungarian woman named erzsébet on the flight home. she told me about growing up in hungary after the war and communist times and leaving her country and family behind. making a new life in new york. eventually returning with her american husband and buying an apartment in budapest. and about the priest and his mother who live in the apartment when they are not in budapest.
we had a fascinating conversation. and as we talked the plane swam through fields of wispy clouds so beautiful i wanted to cry.
meeting erzsébet on the plane was such a sweet conclusion to my trip. she had ice-blue eyes with beautiful lines all around them like a fine map. i felt like i was looking into the radiant soul of hungary.
and i also want to tell you about this tiny bookstore crammed full of books. and the owner. and how i told him i would do a post on his charming store, but i lost the bag with all of the information printed on the outside.
if he somehow stumbles across this post i hope he leaves a comment with a link to his bookstore so i can add it. because it really was a special place. i told you before that budapest is a city that appreciates books. as well as the bookstores, small and large, new and antiquarian, there are the book kiosks on many large corners.
…anyway this little store crowded with books was enchanting. just a few doors down from Nándori Cukrászda on Ráday utca. here's the pile i left with:
and look, a small outdoor library on the square just outside the apartment:
these are the things you discover about a city when you spend a couple of weeks wandering the streets. small things bow before you. revealing themselves. wish i was still there, tramping around. lingering. my heart misses budapest.
over and over you collapse with wonder.
the books, the people, old busses and trams, a certain melancholy in the grand faded buildings, small scenes all coming together. i wish i had photos of the 2 stars of the movie i wrote in my mind. one, a girl on the tram. hefty, frizzy mound of hair pulled back, perfect ringlet sideburns, pink lipstick, awkward, kept pulling down her shirt, licking her lips. strangely applied black eyeliner, odd, quirky, mental capacity slightly diminished. the young man another misfit. very small, kept his towel around his waist, asked my sister to take his picture at the baths, nervous, shy, sweet, alone. tram enthusiasts. they're going to enter a chess championship and win!
but in the end we had to leave budapest behind and fly back west, back home. me still writing scenes, flying through clouds, my movie still looping through my mind. sweet erzsébet dozing in the seat next to me.
Sounds like you had a memorable trip, thank you for taking us along with your wonderful story and photos….I have a question, do you think the bookstore owner would mind if I lived in his store for a while? I could die happy right there! 🙂
Judy H. says
Loved this post; loved the beautiful pix; loved the bookstore; especially loved the unique outdoor library! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
What a beautiful beautiful description of the city. As always. I wonder how much of that love and appreciation for books is a public display of a part of Hungarian life that was lost in those dark dark years. We will have to look for that bookstore since we too haunt old ones.
Mary Ann, I have been MIA for some time now and just read about your loss. As the Mom of the Muttdog pack of four and my grand dog some weekends it is pretty much a dog world around my house. I’m an animal lover and unfortunately we had a similar incident with a stray cat. The cat jumped over our fence into my backyard one morning, we happen to have a camera setup on the gate trying to figure out how my one dog was getting it open so we saw him jump into the yard. It is a horrible thing and I’m so sorry for your loss, I wish I had words to help but I can only say I can imagine how you feel. I lost my Mom and my dear dog companion three months apart and it was hard. My heart goes out to you, my stomach still hurts when I think of the tragic event that happened in my own back yard. Some people that aren’t animal lovers told me at least it wasn’t someone’s pet, but it was a defenseless animal that some irresponsible human being had dumped and it still broke my heart and more so that my dogs were involved. Take Care, Rainy
donna, doni, lady d says
Ah Sweet Mysteries of Life. You. Budapest. Both together and separate. Gifts. I’m so honoured to have found you. Donna
jeanette, mistress of longears says
You’ve opened my eyes to a great city! Somehow, I think you could make a trip to the dry cleaner an adventure!
Susie LaFond says
I love how you write Mary Ann. You have such a way with the weaving of words. I can’t think of anyone else who can so perfectly merge words with imagery…it’s like the perfect martini, blended like fine wine. I feel the warmth that Budapest instilled in your heart and ever thankful you share your thoughts with us.
Kim Owens says
You have the magic of a true wordsmith – I can feel, taste, smell and breath every moment of every trip I have taken with you!! Thanks for your generosity of spirit – you are a gift 🙂
Oh, those clouds, so very Maxfield Parrish, only better. Bitter sweet words. Lovely people. Difficult to reenter into everyday life after immersion in another culture, especially without your little heart to greet you. Wishing you a restorative, long weekend full of naps, lounging and getting your feet back under you. Maybe some art therapy is in order, maybe not. It will all unfold.
Oh my,you are such a poet. My heart still aches for your loss of Buck, and sings for your tales of Budapest. Please, please, please, keep writing.
Such amazing photos…thank you for sharing your experiences with us. The bookstore looks so delicious. You are bringing so many fabulous souvenirs and memories home with you! I hope they will bring your comfort and happiness.
I have so loved your posts on Budapest. I have this desire to visit there now, which is strange since I never had the desire before. After one post I thought, wouldn’t it be great to visit there and search for my relatives. I knew my paternal grandmother was Hungarian but it was only last year that I discovered that she immigrated here when she was 8 years old. I had thought the family had been here for generations so it was a surprise to me. After seeing your pictures and reading your narrative I now want to know more about this side of the family. Thank you for awakening that in me.
susan w says
swaddled, positively swaddled in love you are. No one deserves it more. Mary Ann Mary Ann
What a beautiful journey you have taken us on. All the other comments speak for me. Reading your commentary is like devouring a great book. You have the power to touch the reader in a very deep place, never too many words, just enough. I hope your heartache eases soon.
What a lovely epilogue to your journey to/from Budapest. The lady sitting next to you was no accident…it was serendipity, no doubt provided by The Buckman. I’m sure he wants you to not be sad but know that is so much easier said than done.
Loved all the pictures of this beautiful city. Hope I can get there one day.
When does school start for you? Or has it already begun?
If you upload your photo to Flickr there’s a good chance it’ll have a geolocation on it, which you can then look up on Google maps. If you get really lucky, the area will have street view and you’ll be able to find your bookshop that way.
Of all the wonderful places you have visited, Budapest is the place I would most like to visit. An incredible place. Your pictures are like a thousand words. Your camera says it all, to me.
thank you for your stories from budapest
colleen darling says
Sigh………thanks for the journey!
I’m glad you’re home safely but I’m really sorry you’re no longer in Budapest. It seemed like a good place for you. I actually checked airfares to fly over there. Too pricey right now but not impossible for some day in the future.
I loved every Buda-post…
peggy mcdevitt says
I would never have thought of going to Budapest, but now I would love to, thanks to you. So happy your met that sweet lady on the plane, that was your gift for coming to her country and sharing with all of us. Sorry about Buck, I put things under my pillow too when I am sad, thankful or happy. Thanks for the trip.
Elizabeth Woodford says
After hearing of you adventures, seeing your pictures and reading your words, I have put Budapest on my bucket list!!!! My brother has traveled there in winter and had glorious tales to tell>
I feel that I have missed a lot though! I am so sorry to read that you lost your BUck!!! My heart hurts for you. He will always be with you and he sure did know that you love him dearly.
Your story about your traveling companion is wonderful > I am sure that you have gained another wonderful friend!!
Joan G. says
Thanks Mary Ann…the trip was lovely…just lovely.
ruth krening says
Such a great story….thank you for “taking me along”. I am anxious to see your journal and as you create it, maybe it will help your “homesickness” for Budapest! I think we all miss Buck….and are still sending you warm and peaceful thoughts. Welcome back!!
Glad you made it home safe and sound. I agree with Gwen, the way you write always tugs at my heartstrings.
Sharon Bennett says
Books on every corner?? Wow, my heart is a flutter! Thanx for the great tour. If I ever travel for pleasure, I will be going to Budapest. This is the place you will return to one day, my friend. Budapest is yours!
Thank you Mary Ann for this fabulous trip! I’m like you in leaving another country, after having been there and grown accustomed to their lifestyles. I am sad to leave and always hope to return one day. These past
days you helped me return to lovely Budapest. I loved it, and still want to return again!
You are a wonderfully expressive writer!!
Janet Ghio says
Thanks for another great trip Mary Ann!!
Stephen du Toit says
Yup, I’m with Gwen on this one, I think you should put some of these wonderfully observed people into a screenplay so they can come to life for all of us. And of course there needs to be a sassy crafty-gifted lady in there somewhere making it all happen! Good to know you are safely home too.
I love the way you weave your stories together… especially the way they go with the pictures.
Glad you had a wonderful time, Emie
Thank you for all the photos and stories. Am all the more resolved to see Budapest. Your last sentence made me smile. My beloved great grandmother was born and raised in Hungary. Her name was Erzsebet.
Anna Maria says
How beautiful and dreamy this all is.
I really wonder why no newspaper/magazine or TV station have hired you for making travel reports for them. When I read all this and see how you observe and perceive things around you, I really feel like hopping onto a ship and making a daytrip to Budapest, which is really just around the corner from Vienna and can easily be reached by boat. Until now I always thought: well, I’ll go there some day, but after reading this, it feels like: I wanna go right now!
You are fantastic Mary Ann, and it’s so great that you let us take part in your adventures. And please please share pages from your travel album soon!
Welcome home! I so get the feeling of longing for a place you were a part of for a while. I got to stay in an appartment in London for four weeks in 2009. I spend all my days walking the city. Just walking walking walking. I saw so much and was completely immersed in a totally different kind of life. When I got back I actually cried with some sort of reverse homesickness! It took me a few weeks to adjust again to my own life. It’s not that I don’t love my home and my everyday life, it’s just that I loved it there so much too and I didn’t want to let it go. 😉 Now I have sweet memories and they are priceless!
Oh, Mary Ann…I’m sitting here, reading this so past tired that emotions are easily stirred. I teared up more than once reading this blog entry and honestly wanted to jump in the shower and have a good crying jag, if you know what I mean. We lost 2 cats last year 8 months apart. They were both 18 years old. I still see them out of the corner of my eye, disappearing around a corner or lying on the bed lifting their heads and looking at me. I can still feel their weight in my arms. Given their ages, I should have been more ready for them passing on, but I wasn’t. It still hurts. We have a new puppy and I love her dearly, but I haven’t forgotten Susie and Jazz.
Thank you for writing the way you do.
so sweet and heartfelt. i never thought i’d want to travel to budapest and now i do! 🙂 thank you.
Gwen Delmore says
I wish you would write a movie or a novel, though your stories on this blog fill me with wonder in the same way as a well-crafted novel or film. You have made me long to go to Hungary, too. I love the way you travel, seeing what is real.