Haranglab Pilgrimage
August 20-21, 2004

Photos by James Hayes-Bohanan, unless otherwise noted

Adieu This page combines the last two days of the trip. We spent Friday morning driving toward the border, which we crossed with amazing ease. We then drove across much of Hungary, arriving at a lovely small hotel in Budapest in the afternoon. We did not have much time there, but we enjoyed meeting a small group from Franklin, Massachusetts (they were just going to visit a village) and seeing just a bit of the city before our departure Saturday afternoon.

At left, Pam is posing in the lovely garden of our panzio in Kis-kapus, just before our last meal there and our departure for Hungary.

Pam has traveled to about twice as many countries as I have, and has started to take special note of the things that are common everywhere. I was thinking of this during a rest stop on the highway to Hungary, when I dashed in and out of the men's room, and then noticed all of the women in our group in a familiar, long line.

Universal truths

I have mentioned the Dacia automobile several times on previous pages, so I will not say much more, except to emphasize that these are very small cars.

I have been around enough to be unfazed by the sight of animals in unusual places - like the bull on the moonlit beach in Recife Brazil, chickens on buses, and so on.

I was surprised, however, to see a cow in the back of this Dacia! I think its nose must be sticking out the right-side passenger window.

Dacia Cow

Denes Driving across much of Hungary, the biggest surprise was that it looked a lot like Ohio! We did not slow down long enough to take any photographs of the landcape, but if you have ever driven across the corn- and wheat-producing areas of the United States, you have a fairly good idea of the view from the road. In other words, draft animals and hand-stacked hay were not to be found.

Once we arrived at our hotel in in Hungary, it was time to say goodbye to our drivers, Denes and Gyorgy. We were sad to see them go, but glad to know that the translators Reka and Csilla would be with us for the evening and in the morning, and that John Dale would be joining us for dinner, and a morning departure with John to begin another Partner Church tour.

Castle The highlight of our evening was fireworks. Political changes in the country the day before had not put any damper on people's enthusiasm for the national holiday, and we were very fortunate that Csilla knew how to get us to an excellent viewing spot -- a castle-looking promenade overlooking the Danube. Fireworks are especially poor subjects for a simple, handheld camera but I am including a few photographs to convey a bit of the atmosphere.

The Matthias Church (right photo) is an amazingly ornate and imposing structure. The three incongruous concrete columns are part of the only Hilton Hotel to be built behind the Iron Curtain. On the side facing the church, the architects were careful to conform to the historic look of this ancient part of the city of Buda, but the rest is very out of place.

The people of Budapest really seemed to enjoy themselves this evening. They crowded onto the castle (some of them seemingly oblivious to the heights) to enjoy a show that was launched from a number of bridges, all well below us. We could watch the fireworks rise from one bridge as all of the buildings in front of us were lit up by fireworks behind us. From time to time, fireworks would be set off along the bottoms of the bridges themselves, for an exquisite effect.
Friends Lovers

Our friend Jan took this photo of a couple of young lovers from Bridgewater!

After the show, we enjoyed a long walk back to our hotel, through a city full of life and light!
The city at night

The cultural offerings of a great city are indeed varied. On our morning walk back into the town center, we noticed the night club shown on the left. Perhaps it is just as well that we had not noticed it the night before! Posters on a kiosk in the Buda city center point to an interesting assortment of the classical, the avant garde, the prurient, and the political.
Calligula Michael Moore


Central Buda is a feast for the eyes, including the gigantic trompe l'oeil covering two sides of a building and a life-size mastadon representing the motif of a shopping mall. Inside, the shopping mall itself is impressive, with a wonderful upside-down wildlife diorama found on a mirrored ceiling (shown above Pam and  Paloma on the escalator).

Mastadon Diorama
Near the airport in Pest is an enormous pink communications tower, a symbol of the rapid economic integration of Eastern Europe. As with rapidly evolving places throughout the world, Hungary and Romania are to a large extent skipping over land-based telephones, becaues the cellular infrastructure is so much easier to deploy.


I hope you have enjoyed learning about our visit to Romania and Hungary. As you can see, it was a delight to visit both places, and I look forward to returning, particularly to visit our new friends in Haranglab. If you are involved in a Unitarian church in North America (or would like to be), I strongly encourage you to get involved with the Partner Church movement, which is now active in several countries.

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