Today is a national holiday in Hungary. Schools and businesses are closed; celebrations have been planned across the country and certainly in Budapest.
I got to spend the glorious spring day with the English Home Fellowship group from church. I hopped onto a tram to get into the city and rode along the Danube for about 20 minutes. Grins were inevitable as I began to recognize famous sights glistening in the sunshine. After my tram stop (at Battanyi Ter for those interested in the geography of my day), I enjoyed a brisk stroll farther north along the river, across Margit Bridge, and onto Margitsziget (Margaret Island). This island is located in the middle of the river and offers a park or countryside atmosphere for the people of the city.
We spent the afternoon throwing Frisbees, watching children, dogs, and ducks play, and simply enjoying the company from blankets in the grass. Marvelous. After dinner, we rode the metro--yellow line, first underground in continental Europe--to Heroes' Square in the far northeastern corner of Budapest. Believe it or not, we sipped coffee at a Gloria Jean's before the events in the square picked up!
Traditional Hungarian may pole dances, folk music, costumes, and fireworks under the noble obelisks and statues of Heroes' Square seemed a fitting conclusion to the holiday. Though I don't have a grasp of the language yet, I could understand the romance and pride reflected in the performances.
(I was enjoying the evening so much and guarding my belongings so vigilantly from pickpockets that I didn't take any pictures. Night time photos don't typically work well, anyway, but I apologize!)
A long walk down Andrassy street in the rain, a metro ride and two buses later, I arrived at home in Diosd. What a great day to see more of this city that is now my home, interact with people who will be my friends, and appreciate the history and culture of Hungary. Happy May Day!