Friends, I am in a public library in Bardejov, Slovakia working on the old blog. Internet cafes are so 2011. My plan was to find one in each city, order a caffe mocha, and type away. I have scant hope of adding any pictures this afternoon but I will try either now or later.
Budapest, then and now. The first difference is certainly being hit by a car now, and being able to walk across the busiest intersection in town and waiting 15 minutes for a car to pass then. There was no graffiti 40 years ago, and there is graffiti everywhere today. I visited the Parliament, the Basilica of St. Stephen, the Dohanyi Street synagogue, and the Budapest City Historical Museum. The Castle Hill neighborhood had an almost theme park quality on a busy Sunday. I got as close as I could to the street where I took the picture in 1972 near St. Matthews, but I would have been run over repeatedly had i tried to actually stage that shot.
I have met relatives, though. I had a great evening with Laszlo, Kinga and Geza. Laszlo Pazar is a distant cousin who has more or less the same role I do, unofficial family historian and some time pest, only he has a lot more people to keep track of in Hungary. His daughter Kinga wins a prize for patient interpretation. Geza is a cousin of Laszlo who is retired and lives in Germany. He said I have the Pazar nose, so I guess I§ OK (I am typing this on a Slovak keyboard at the public librarý in Bardejov, so things are a bit scattered. Laszlo had a family history from 1935 written by a Pazar who made it to Canada, probably, after 1945. Through Laszlo I learned about a whole branch of my family in the United States.
Yesterday I took the train from Budapest to Kosiče, Slovakia. I rented a car and drove to Prešov. This morning, I wandered over to the Lutheran bookshop across from the huge Lutheran church in Prešov. This is the church where my great=grandfather and my great=great grandfather, and his numerous siblings, were all baptized. The clerk at the store was a very sweet kid named Anna. She spoke good English. I explained who I was and that I wanted to get inside the church to take some pictures. She came back from a nearby office with a huge key that gives new meaning to the term “church key”. I took pictures which of her, the church and the key I hope to post either today or someday. Back at the shop, I helped the Slovak economy by buyng a number of texts. We chatted about Bible study, and I explained about EfM meaning Education for Ministry, a 4 year Episcopal course on Old Testmaent, New Testament, church history and modern theology. She was thinking about starting her own Old Testament study, and I promised to send her the citations for some of the books we used last year.
Today I am in Bardejov, a UNESCO heritage city that is just south of the Polish border. It is a late medieval town with some intact ramparts and many beatiful churches. The town square has well=preserved houses surrounding a basilica and former guild hall. Bardejov also has narrow cobblestone streets that are bound to make an American driver nervous. They made me nervous. I also made some Slovak drivers nervous when I backed down a one way street. No sense of imagination.
Culinary notes. I had goulash in Budapest, that is comfort food. Today I had the Slovak equivalent of pierogies. Pizza is everywhere. Neither Hungarian nor Slovak cuisine is delicate, but Slovakia is a great place, Pilsner Urquell is on tap and cheap. Food seems cheaper in Slovakia probably because they use the euro, and Hungary the forint. Prices in Hungary have lots of zeros, a bit like shopping in Italy before the euro.
Tomorrow I head back to Hungary. I will take the train to Debrecen, Hungary§s second city. My grandmother was born in Debrecen. Then I plan to go to Romania, where my grandfather was born when it was still Hungary. The pastor in the small town there has been very helpful and he speaks much much better English than I do Hungarian.
Thanks for all the comments. I will try to get some pictures up soon. The effect of this incredible journey is just taking hold. I will share more when I can articulate more.