“When a mid-morning sunbeam prized one eyelid open a few days later, I couldn’t think where I was. An aroma of coffee and croissants was afloat under a vaulted ceiling; furniture gleamed with beeswax and elbow grease; books ascended in hundreds, and across the arms of a chair embroidered with a blue rampant lion with a forked tail and a scarlet tongue, a dinner jacket was untidily thrown. An evening tie hung from the looking glass, pumps lay in different corners, the crumpled torso of a stiff shirt (still worn with a black tie in those days) gesticulated desperately across the carpet and borrowed links glittered in the cuffs. The sight of all this alien plumage, so unlike the travel-stained heap that normally met my waking eyes, was a sequence of conundrums. Then, suddenly, illumination came. I was in Budapest”
The above quote is from Patrick Leigh Fermor’s Between Woods and the Water, the second book narrating the author’s trek by foot from the Netherlands to Istanbul in 1933. The young ‘Paddy,’ as we call him, experienced quite a bit different of a journey than us, as he frequently finds himself tangle up amongst barons and counts, gypies and ruffians, all showering him in hospitality. It’s not that we haven’t been witness to kind strangers, but the country living lifestyle that existed before the second World War was just a different breed. Nevertheless, we enjoy reading how life used to be along the Danube. As with most things, ”it’s not as good as it was, but better than it’s going to be…”
Although we weren’t waltzing with the Esterházy daughters, we certainly enjoyed ourselves in Budapest with great. The pictures below are from our departure from the city, under unseasonally warm sun. The Hungarian Parliament Building truly is a crown jewel of architecture along the Danube.