Budapest FINA and Formula One Weekend

Angelina and Eva HAMORI walking throughout Budapest pretending to be tourists

Saturday morning our students left. During the week I worked very hard to vaccum the house, clean the bathrooms, get the bedding changed, and clean the laundry so that the moment they left we could have a traditional HAMORI family day!

It has been far too long!

Alfonz came back from dropping Paul off at the airport to make his way home to Beziers France, and Lelle’s father came to pick her up at around 11:00 to take her home to Törökbalint. We said our goodbyes, and no sooner I hung up the last load of clothes off we went towards Pest.

I drove today as Alfonz’s tennis elbow has been acting up since overworking himself on my pallet picnic tables and benches he has been making for my garden; so I happily took the wheel today, which also translates to, I get to chose which way we go to town and where we are going to park.

From Solymár I like to go past the French school, weaving through the residential streets, checking out all the pretty houses along the tree lined roads that take us past the Mamut shopping centre in Buda and along the Danube River on the castle side and eventually over Elizabeth Bridge into Pest and into our old neighbour in the VII district.

Elizabethtown still has my heart. I feel like we have come home whenever we park the car along our little street, Nagy Diofa Utca, next to our traditional three storey walk up, painted a mellow yellow, exactly the same as 100 years ago when it was built.

I always imagine my grandmother walking these same streets. With my daughter’s hand in mine, I imagine the same scenario playing out fifty years before with my mother’s hand was in hers as they make their way to the grocery store across the street. 

From here we walked across the street to Corvin, and into the Europeum Mall next door to take a seat at our favourite sushi restaurant, Hanami Sushi. They have renovated their location since the last time we visited, and now they have glass walls that create a seating area inside the mall for their clients. It is always packed full. Their menu has changed and well so have their prices. Moderately expensive, but still reasonable compared to other sushi restaurants in Hungary. After all we are landlocked! A very tasty treat for our first day of holidays no matter how you slice your sashimi!

From here we went into the Yves Rocher store to pick up a few essentials. The lady who works here is always so very nice, and she tells me exactly how to get the most for my dollar using all the lovely coupons she has up her sleeve. She managed to get me nerly 40% on everything plus a free 5000 HUF towards anything in the store. I bought myself a very expensive body lotion which I would never normally buy. I also bought Angelina a makeup brush. Since hers was stolen at school from the theatre room during their practice of ‘The Little Prince’, she has been beside herself. So finally we got her a replacement angle brush with a wee wooden handle. It was the best thing we could have done for my little fashionista! Her smile was worth every penny.

Next we walked down to Vaci Street, the tourist walking strip that cuts along the Danube River between Liberty and Chain Bridges. We nipped into many different stores including Musette, a high quality bag manufacturer, where Alfonz bought me the cutest baby pink leather with gold trim backpack so that my shoulder doesn’t keep hurting from my over the shoulder bag I have been carrying for fifteen years. It was the first time I felt that walking around for many hours made very little difference as to the level of pain of my lower back! I felt 30 again and I didn’t want to stop walking and they had to keep up with me in my white heeled sandals trekking over the cobblestone streets.

I felt alive.

No restraints.

No matter how much I love my job; I love my family time more.

And to have the time to do whatever we wanted; sit here and enjoy the views over there, people watch and stop to snack. I was so very happy as Daniel ate an entire cinnamon chimney cake, and when Angelina tried on some very high heeled boots. I giggled. No dinner to make or shop for, no lessons to plan or mark, no English to keep flowing. Nope just us; my perfect little imperfect family that I love to the moon and back a million times over.

Daniel is his new SPringfield shirt climbing all over the Shakespeare monument

We went to Springfield and bought Daniel a few tops on sale. (Paul has rubbed off on him a little with his polo shirt.) He found some great shirts in the men’s section, high quality soft fabrics in great colours and they were all on sale! Love summer sales! Daniel has managed to grow 15 cm since March! I know crazy! His feet are now a size 42, and his hands are officially the same size as mine. He is still shorter than I am, but not for long. I predict he will reach my height 5’6” before his 14th birthday! My crazy miracle grow doused bean, crabby from springing up too fast, is always hungry but too picky to eat just anything. We have officially hit the teenage years.

The streets were full of tourists. Some wearing their country’s colours in support of their swim team or their racecar driver, some here for the FINA World Aquatic Championship Event and others for the Formula One. Both events simultaneously here in Budapest, and they say most rentals are full to the max this lovely warm July weekend.

Here is an example of one of the TV screens that Orban sponsored for the events to make sure everyone had a bird’s eye view!

On giant screens set up throughout the city, large groups of people congregate to watch the swimming races live from FINA not a few miles upstream on the Pest side of the Arpad Bridge.The government built a beautiful facility to house the event. Tickets were not expensive for the event, running anywhere from 300 HUF or 1€ before noon – 3000 HUF or 10€/ ticket for the finals. Still, for many citizens it might seem expensive when the average wages are 500-750€/month. The TV’s ensured that everyone who wanted to see the vent could. The streets were buzzing with energy, and beer gardens popped up with food trucks slinging burgers and fries. There was a really cool feel in the city!

Police and military were out too, kindly pointing tourists in the right direction, most speaking English, French or German, some taking photos with youngsters or waving from a distance. It was the first time I saw soldiers with fully armed weapons in hand held up towards their chests walking slowly through the crowds on full alert. It was a wee bit frightening as to why they felt they needed to be ready for combat but these are those times that we hoped would never come. And with so many tourists here at international events from all over the world, I guess the increase in security was indeed necessary. It made me feel safe that someone had our backs against that wild card factor so readily seen in warfare these days. Thankfully no incidents to report.

In general the mood was relaxed and fun. Ice cream in hand we enjoyed people watching from the Szamoca café. I swung back a cappuccino and we continued our walk. We sauntered along the Danube and visited some of the breathtaking sites and even visited our friends at Baraka.

I noticed some gorgeous people fully dressed up shopping with many bags in hand. They looked like they came off the cover of a fashion magazine; picture perfect just coming from the hairdresser without a hair out of place, nails painted in the brightest orange or salmon which is all the rage here next to over tanned skin and super white teeth, and of course flawless airbrushed makeup to match. Jewelry dangles off their bodies, the newest style in sandals, and the cutest fashion in summer dresses hung off their bodies. After closer examination during my people watching, I figured they were two sister with their two daughters, most likely staying at the Mercure hotel as that’s where they were heading. I found myself fantasizing about shopping like that, where you stop only from fatigue and not running out of money. Interesting thought. Talk about a sport, these were the serious shoppers who flew in for the weekend to save a few thousand on the latest fashions. I bet Angelina would love this!

Next Alfonz’s feet were hurting in his new leather Birkenstocks. The buckle rubbed his feet as they were too loose and then he tightened them but it was too late to stop the rubbing on his arch. So we went into a large shoe store called CCC and he found himself a new pair of comfortable Adidas runners and socks. He changed his shoes out and we continued our journey around Pest. I have been bugging him all year to replace his baskets but no matter how hard he looked, he just couldn’t bring himself to buying a new pair. I guess necessity was key in executing the task.

After hours of this, Alfonz called to reserve a table for dinner. We decided to head back towards the car and go to Club 93 for dinner. It was close to eight o’clock when we finally sat down on their street side terrace to order all our favourites from our old local watering hole. I love their hot wings, and Alfonz and I shared a big Caesar salad while the kids feasted on big bowls of spaghetti. Daniel was the only one unhappy, as he hates tomatoes, and was convinced the raw tomato on top dipped down through his pasta and had ruined his spaghetti. He made such a fuss. So instead of letting him ruin our perfect evening, I ordered a side of French fries and called it a day. My defensive shot to near the goal, not bad for this old girl.

After we went back to see the Polo match, Hungary vs Croatia for the Olympic Gold. We came in second with 6/8, a very exciting game and we enjoyed watching it on the enormous TV screen setup on Rakoczi Utca. A man said he was on Margaret Island when the score was 4/0 in Croatia’s favour, and he unhappily was making his way home. It seemed he stopped at a few pubs on route, but no worries he rested to watch the last quarter with us when the score was 4/4. Teetering on a metal pole next to the street, dangerously close to the busses whizzing by, we watched the TV across the busy road. My palms began to sweat, so I had to move my kids in fear the drunk man would topple in the street in front of them and the game would not be the memorable part of tonight. But discouraged, he quickly left as the score was 4/6 to hit the next pub on his way home and so my anxiety left with the friendly man.

The kids were getting tired, so we slowly made our way back to the car. The partiers were out in droves, signalling to us that it was definitely time to go. As the youth took over the street corners outside pubs, and patriotic Hungarian men paraded down the streets chanting how awesome Hungary did today in both the swimming female 200m and Polo Silver, the party was stepped up a notch. It was past 10:45 when I started driving back over Elizabeth Bridge towards home leaving the young to celebrate without us. Years ago i would have been in the centre of that celebration meeting people from all parts fo the world, and chatting to strangers visiting my beloved Budapest.

The kids were sleeping before they hit their pillows!

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