A Day at the Races

Budapest gave summer a run for it’s money this year baking long hot days under lush leafage and raising one final hoorah before the first crunch of Autumn. Celebrations centered along the well heeled Andrassy, carless and carefree, with dancing troupes and music giving rhythm to the avenue bursting with people and parties. Tattooed ladies abounded but none so enthusiastic as tree toting Lydia, who’s crave-inducing spiral cut crisps guaranteed a short wait for the 20kilo limit basket ride. But there were still rides going free at the National Gallop up the road in Hero’s Square, so long as you found the horse and wore a handcrafted hat. This gorgeously named event was the culmination of many collaborators, brought to town courtesy of copious truckloads of sand and a clever conveyance around concrete and traffic lights. The Hussars also made a stand, while around the corner Heritage Days were opening doors to the past that were both enlightening and unnerving by their proximity. The archives of the security services from 1944 – 90 were real, although the dossiers we saw were not, but they nevertheless conveyed a feeling that made the joy on the street all the more embracing.

A day in the country promised to eek out the sunshine, even though the destination was a warm one and one we will return to, not least because our first attempt was thwarted cheerfully by chance. A couple of hours west of Budapest is a lake warmed by a presiding power plant, and fringed by stilted houses that appear to float romantically on the water. In the middle of summer it would be a paradise for children and landlocked Australians. The nearest town, Oroszlany, is the last stop on the train route and on a Sunday is a very lonely place. The only thing open is the petrol station, and no-one speaks English. No-one! Sean and I had an early start and were up for a walk, but the directions we had to the lake took us past a deserted coal mine, something too tempting to go past. Especially when there was a gap in the fence… The buildings were immense in their emptiness and ruin. Apple trees grew out of walls, unpicked but nevertheless bitten, and stories of back breaking work hovered around the collapsed and rusting equipment. These were archives of a different kind but carried the same forbidding feeling. Most buildings we couldn’t enter, but an open hangar with solid concrete floor, awe-inspiring and atmospheric, was a film set without a film. With the flash of possibility came the simultaneous sound of impending discovery and that was enough to encourage a rapid retracing of steps. The dogs would not have spoken english either, and even though there were no signs of dogs, we later saw signs of dogs. By then it felt like we were half way to Austria, but luckily caught the tip of the lake on the way. Apart from two children fishing on their pier, there was no-one, boats were tethered and the lakeside was peaceful. A gazebo provided a perfect picnic spot next to neatly stacked gardening tools and the last of the tomatoes. It will be a beautiful place to come back to when we don’t have to rush…

This entry was posted in Australians at large, events, Fun, music, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to A Day at the Races

  1. Frank Williams says:

    Just Beautiful..”Thankyou Gabrielle…

  2. seanjohn hill says:

    Love your adventures 

    Sent from Yahoo7 Mail on Android

  3. Peter says:

    Dear Gabrielle, it was both a surprise and pure delight to read another post on the “fitzyreport”. Despite Hungary being part of Europe and 750 million inhabitants I guess being on the hinterland your pictures and story paint a scenery of tranquility and beauty in a land that operates on its own terms. Almost one I remember in Australia sixty years ago, although without those beautiful old buildings and traditions you have captured so well. Thank you. Peter.

    • Thank you Peter – yes, it is amazing how unique a place can be, landlocked inside many others. But the memories, particularly those children fishing on the jetty, speak to us all. Heartwarming to be able to share with you.

  4. Chrissy Hirst says:

    Dear girlfriend – also for me it was a delightful moment to open up & read your report this Saturday morning- what rich, descriptive language you emply, almost not necessary to view the photos (but glad I could!) Stay happy, well, enjoying life…….

    • Thanks Chrissy – and what a pleasure to be both writing and hearing from you. I’m a bit out of practice with the reports but the adventures keep coming so here we go. Hope all well at home and with new horizons… Please keep me posted!

  5. Andrew Box says:



    Andrew Box Bingemann Consulting Pty Ltd abox@bhpl.com.au 0417 264 903

    44 Calbina Road, Northbridge 2063 Please consider the environment before printing this email This email and any attachments have passed virus scan however it remains the responsibility of the recipient to ensure against viruses. CONFIDENTIALITY NOTE: The information in this email is privileged and confidential. It is intended only for the use of the named recipient. If you are not the intended recipient, please telephone the sender immediately on 0417 264 903 and delete the email and any attachments. You should not disclose the contents to any other person or print any copies. Dissemination by any one other than the named recipient is prohibited and may result in legal action.


  6. Janet says:

    Gabrielle, so lovely to receive your post in my inbox today. I was only thinking of you the other night listening to Rod on Overnights and wondered how things were going for you. It seems life is good and you are making the most of your time in Budapest and surrounds. Best wishes, Janet

    • Thank you for thinking of me Janet – I hope Rod is finding interesting stories to share with you overnight. Yes, life is good here in Budapest – challenging – but with miracles happening daily. I hope to share more of them as we go…

  7. Amanda says:

    Wonderful. Your descriptions and writing makes me feel there. Particularly love the warehouse photo. Cheers

  8. Maxine Patterson says:

    Dear Gabrielle,
    It was wonderful to find you in my inbox again, thank you. Sharing your life and adventures with us enriches our own lives and your words paint an indelible picture. Living expat has challenges and taking the time to show us the beauty is most appreciated. Thank you, Maxine

    • Thank you for your thoughtful message Maxine. I feel especially touched to receive your comment after literary (but not literal) inactivity. So, much encouraged, I will forge on! Gabrielle.

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