Thursday, July 24, 2008

Exit Part Two- Back to the Exit

Wow, so we´re only up to the first night of the actual festival, and a pretty big night it turned out to be. N*E*R*D were pretty awsome to start with, and pretty laid back too, followed by Mike Skinner and his Streets, who were pretty good too, and well attended by many-an English geezer who has taken too much in their past.

Now I must take this opportunity to mention that, although we may thing of ourselves as fair drinkers in Australia, nothing compares to the encouragement provided by the Exit festival organisers to have just a couple more. To purchase a drink, you had to buy tokens. The options for beer were either one beer token, or 6 beers, and this token could be purchased for the price of 5 single beer tokens. So what else were we to do, but buy every beer by the 6 pints. This certainly set up each evening well, and proved to do quite the number on a few of our travelling companions on the first evening.

Around 4am saw a couple of thousand odd Aussies descend on one of the smaller of the 16 stages at the Festival, to see homeland heroes The Presents strut their stuff (right). This pretty much went off, and the sun slowly rose behind us, to signal the end of this first night, and tell all of us that it was time to catch some much needed Zs, before the heat really got turned on, and forced us out to the river again for more Baltic Vodkas.

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Exit Part One- Arrival at Exit

So, it has been a little while since our last addition to our travel diary, but I must profess that it is not through neglect, or disrespect of you, our valued reader (note the use of singular, rather than plural here). We have indeed, been very busy over the last fortnight or so. To begin we left what had become our home away from home in Budapest, on an adventure that would later be affectionately looked back to as the Exit Music Festival in Novi Sad, Serbia.

This adventure inevitably began with a bus trip direct from the Airport to Novi Sad, but you could hardly call the many twists and turns that our geriatric driver took as direct, as he attempted to avoid every toll road out of Budapest, and thus added a number of hours to the trip. This should have rang some warning bells for us for our bus trip out of Serbia to Dubrovnik, Croatia in a weeks time, but hey, we had a festival to get to. So us, our bus with no air conduli and 39 odd poms to whinge about this fact were off, and racing (if not slowly) toward Novi Sad.

Our first minutes at Novi Sad were met with a stroke of luck and our wayward travelling friends Tommy and Teddy on arrival at the gate of the camp-ground, a truly amazing feat amongst the 100 000 odd other revelers who were descending on the town. So we sat around and enjoyed a couple of litres of top quality "bull´s blood" wine from Eger (see the last story), before making our way out and meeting a few of the locals in the town square (Novi Sad metal-heads, right). Teddy may or may not have played a bit of a Velvet Underground duet with a local mandolin playing busker, who did a bang up job of following Ted´s lead, considering the guy didn´t know who the Velvet Underground were.

So that was day one, and day two drifted by looking up to the sky from our camp, fighting a losing battle against the tide of geezers setting up, as we tried to save our late-coming friends a space. This battle was lost, with the crew arriving in dribs and drabs over the next 12 or so hours, but we all found one-another, and spent day three together, down by the not-so-blue Danube (we have since found out that it is advisable to wash after swimming in it). This, along with many-a Baltic Vodka (very very cheap), had us set up for the first night of this four night festival, and my god, was it going to be big.

To Be Continued...

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Road Trip

We spent the best part of the last 4 days with a hired car at our disposal, a crappy little gutless number, but a car none the less. We were armed with the name of a town that my grandmother was to have grown up in. Awesome, except she doesn't live in Heves, like we were told, so after arriving at this - lets me be completely honest here - quite an uninteresting and uninspiring town of 12,000 people we were a little dismayed by the whole situation. Lucky for us we decided that we'd go for a nice drive and see how things turned out; we ended up going to Hevesvezkeny where we stumbled across a building that fit the criteria: 1. her house has now been turned into a pub (so we had a beer) and 2. there would be stalks nesting on top of the telegraph poles. Tick, tick. Also thanks to Lachie for showing me his photos we were able to recognise the place. It's nothing special to look at, but another puzzle piece to the Hodi family history.

So here we are driving away into the country side feeling pretty amazed that we found this place with no address in the middle of a foreign country when our little car hits a pot hole and we get a flat tyre 'ha ha ha', we laugh to ourselves, 'you cannot stop us, we are master travellers' I thought as Jeremy made possibly the fastest tyre change in history. Boy, was I wrong, next thing we realise is that the hazard lights have flattened the battery (I know how stupid is that). We trekked into the horrible, uninspiring town of Heves, that now was an annoying 3km away, where we tried every combination to call the Emergency line without success. We ended up walking back to a little backyard garage service and talking to a guy who made us wait for 15mins and then he and his friend got into a car and told us to get into the back. Lets just say that at this point we were totally at the mercy of 2 country mechanic, one being able to speak a little broken English, the other seeming to laugh at us at every opportunity (them: 'what car?' us:'Suzuki Splash' them: 'asojhsdfhajklasfd HA HA HA lkjhaslkdjh HA HA HA'). But they checked out battery, jump started our car and talked to the emergency line and organised for us to have a car transfer at a local petrol station in 2 hours time. Gold. Except we sat there for 4 hours and about 3 hours into the waiting, one of the mechanics pulled up and as we're sitting in the (broken) car he is making small talk and as we're thinking, we've been set up for something horrible here, in the end Norbit wanted our email address so his sons could practice English. It all works out in the end I say!

Eger was our destination and well worth it, we had a nice camping spot (thought we'd test out our crappy Tesco tent before Exit music festival) and just around the corner there was 'The Valley of Beautiful Women' which had nothing to do with chicks and everything to do with wine, cheap Hungarian wine, a glass typically cost 250Ft which works out at the whopping price of $1.50. They even do this thing where you can fill an empty water bottle for about $6, some was good, some was bad. We spent an extended afternoon drinking with a lovely girl from Quebec named Fred. Then the next night too.

We've had a great time in Hungary it's been really nice to see different parts of the country, but next up is the Exit Music Festival in Novi Sad in Serbia, the festival itself is going to be awesome, but we're especially looking forward to meeting up with Mr Tommy Acocks.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Budapest and beyond...

Budapest is a gorgeous city, but rather unfortunately it has been tarred with quite a tragic past and we have managed to go to the most depressing but informative museums around town. It started with the Terror House Museum which highlighted the brutal regimes, the Arrow Cross, the Nazis and Communists, that ruled the city by fear and intimidation. Then it was onto Statue Park where the Hungarians put all the old propaganda statues from the communist era, the park is out in the middle of nowhere and is a bleak and stark reminder of the propaganda campaigns to win over the people to communism. And today we went to a bunker museum under the Citadel and read about the horrible siege of the city at the end of WW2. Makes you realise how lucky you are not to live through or under horrible wars and regimes.

Onto happier news we have spent the most wonderful 2 days visiting the town where my grandfather, Alexander Hodi grew up, Hódmezővásárhely, about a two and a half hour train trip from Budapest. We were lucky enough to be met by one of his old university friends, Dr Kiss who lives in Szeged and despite not speaking english took us on a tour of the town which sits on the Tizsa River. He greeted us with a simple note and brought us ice cream and we tried to communicate using an (inadequate) phrase book (meant for Hungarians going to London so, ’which way to Oxford?’ became extremely ridiculous in the situation).

We spent the next few days in the company of Dr Bela and Saci Petko. Saci’s father went to school and was friends with my grandfather. They had limited english but were the most wonderful, happy and generous hosts and were eager to speak with us (we were able to use a translator program on the computer to have long conversation) and were the first to celebrate our engagement with a bottle of champagne.

They took us out for the afternoon to my grandfathers old farm in Szekkutas and to the Agricultural College he studied at in Oroshaza. They showed us around the town of Hodmezovasarhely where Saci used to visit my great-grandfather on her way home

from school and he used to tell her stories. She has an extensive collection of things (books, photos, furniture and crockery) from both her own grandfather and my great-grandfather and I was extremely grateful to her for sharing

these and her memories with me.

We are especially grateful to them for organising their friend Iboyal and their granddaughter Nikki for helping translate along the way, and for introducing us to the Hungarian speciality of Fish Soup!

Next up we’re hiring a car to visit where my grandmother grew up in Heves.

Thanks to everyone for your congratulations, here’s a picture of the ring (Jeremy – the big softie – designed it himself (under the wise guidance of Terry, his jeweller in Ballarat)