Monday, November 28, 2011

Off The Rock: Budapest

Budapest, the Melancholic. There's an underlying broodiness to Hungary's capital as seen both from the tinted window of a tour bus and on foot in November. Andr√°ssy Avenue, lined by the soot-laden facades of ornate Neo-renaissance mansions, opens up with a flourish as it reaches Heroes Square, desolate except for the pantheon to Magyar chieftains and statesmen. The Parliament Building, its spires like swords being raised by warriors, lights up and from across the Danube River mirrors the intricate view into a kaleidoscope. Next to Buda Castle, the Fisherman's Bastion overlooks Pest and breaks it up through its arched openings, a 35-mm filmstrip of the city's east bank. People walk briskly away from the cold, many probably saddened or burdened by hundreds of years of violence, occupation and destruction. 

From my short visit, I sense that Budapest wears its history on its sleeve. While Prague teleports you to "Neverland," setting foot on Budapest feels like actually traveling back in time and being flooded by Ottoman, Austrian and Communist influences as inherited, interpreted and transformed by the Hungarian populace. It's somber. It's enigmatic. It's a place that requires a moment or two to process and understand, eight hours certainly not enough to fully appreciate what stunning beauty lies before you. As I walked along a quaint street loaded with art galleries and antique shops on my way to a goulash dinner, I could not get Joy Division's "Atmosphere" out of my head. If there ever was a soundtrack—dark and depressingly beautiful—for the city, I know this song would be on repeat until the airplane's wheels rolled off the runway on its southbound journey to the Mediterranean.

People like you find it easy,
Naked to see,
Walking on air.
Hunting by the rivers,
Through the streets,
Every corner abandoned too soon,
Set down with due care.
Don't walk away in silence,
Don't walk away.

- Joy Division, "Atmosphere."

2009 Kettöezerkilenc Orsolya Pince (Pinot Noir, Kefrankos and Zweigelt blend) - Red forest fruit, floral aromas like a potpourri, tight nose. Raspberries on the finish, red fruit throughout with a hint of dark chocolate. Light bodied, short, no tannins, fruity and simple. 84/100.

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