On a visit to Hungary in 1979 I snapped this photo from a tour bus window and it managed to survive my many moves since then. The photo was taken in the countryside, where storks traditionally spend March through October before heading south to Africa. In recent years the storks have built their nests atop telephone poles, making for dramatic views like the one I captured.
Hungary was sandwiched between Austria and Yugoslavia on my tour so we only had two nights in Budapest. They were two nights of history and luxury at the Budapest Hilton, which incorporated the remains of the old Ministry of Finance building and the 13th century Dominican Church of St.Nicholas. From every vantage point there were panoramic views of Pest on the other side of the Danube.
Hungary is famous for food but my stomach did flip-flops at sight of their specialties. Quoting from the article I wrote for TravelAge West, a trade journal for travel agents:
“I ate a lot of club sandwiches and dobos cake. The Hilton’s club sandwich is interesting: three slices of bread filled with shredded vegetables, layers of bacon and chicken on top. If you can’t eat cucumbers, good luck. They are sliced, diced and shredded into everything.”
One evening our group went to the Citadella, an old fortress overlooking the Danube, for dinner and live music. Here’s another excerpt that sums up my impressions and memories of Budapest:
(Quote) After dinner we walked across the road to stand at the retaining wall and gaze at the lights of Pest. “It looks like Oakland,” someone said. Well, maybe. If you can forget that the river is the Danube and lights are all you see, maybe it does look like Oakland.
But turning to look again at the Citadella, one sees that the walls are pocked with shell holes and atop the roof is a towering Russian statue. Budapest looks like Budapest. (End Quote)
That was more than 30 years ago. The Berlin Wall came down and the Iron Curtain was rolled up. That Russian statue is surely long gone. But the Danube flows on, and from all I read, the storks still build their nests in small villages outside of Budapest.