Category Archives: Budapest

Guest blogger: RETIREMENT/30/65/GRAD

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Editor (Sara)’s note: For the first time in saratreetravels history, we are proud to welcome a guest blogger to our travel universe – my (tied-for-) favourite travel partner and mother, Mary!!

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What a year!

Sara and I talked about doing a major trip, but her idea and mine of a major trip were two different things. When she asked me where I would like to go, I stretched it to my biggest dreams I could imagine of what I could do in my lifetime. I suggested wild things like a train trip across Canada, or sitting on the beach in Hawaii (which by the way was slowly being covered by lava). I stretched even farther to the Alaskan cruise up the West side of our fair country.

Imagine my amazement when I received the email from Sara who must have chuckled at my ‘amazing dreams’. My dreams were so small. She sent me an agenda that saw us flying to Rome. “Now” she said “what would you like to see now?”

Editor’s note: Small?! Absolutely not how I would describe my mom’s dreams… her life has been my inspiration to dream big!

Now my vision was set farther. Europe was never in my thoughts for a trip I could ever do in my lifetime. Now I had the ticket, just had to come up with an agenda. Sara asked me, “NOW what do you want to see?” I threw out things that I had dreamed of, again, never expecting to see them happen: The Coliseum, the Vatican, Pompeii, Venice, maybe a side trip to Ukraine to see dad’s family again.

Sara took my ideas under advisement, and came up with an agenda of almost three weeks. I got my boat cruise (not the Alaskan Cruise, but on the Danube which I had planned with a friend who had passed away before we could see it). I got my train trip (two actually), I walked the Coliseum (oh yes, it was at the end of our street in view of our hostel) and the Vatican. I walked Pompeii and marvelled at the amazing lost city. I took a gondola on the canals of Venice and visited the lace museum in Burano. We experienced the amazing city of Vienna and the Matyas heritage in Budapest including public baths and the Matyas church and castle.

Wait, what’s that we spy from our front door? Could it be… ??!!

Exploring the ancient mysteries of Pompei

Aboard a gondola for a canal-eye view of Venezia

El Museo del Merletto (The Burano Lace School & Museum)

Stadtpark Vienna City Park

Beautiful Budapest

As a grand finale, we took a train to Lviv, Ukraine and then drove to Lanchyn where I was able to once again see my dad’s village, walk the roads that he walked, sit for dinner with his family.



What an adventure! I am so grateful to have had this chance to see all I did. Kudos to Sara who planned all this in spite of writing exams and doing those things required to complete her MD. Challenge should have been her middle name because she most certainly meets the challenge. However her middle name is even better: Hope. Without the Hope, we don’t have energy for future plans. And so I say “Thanks for the memories.” It was an awesome experience of a lifetime!

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“History sticks to your feet”

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As a kid, the only thought I had about my surname was that people never pronounced it correctly. I would fume at elementary school gymnastics meets when the inevitable “Sara… Ma-TIE-us?” would be announced over the loudspeaker. As I entered medical school and had to start distributing my signature copiously over orders and admission notes, I got questioned frequently about the origins of my name. “So unusual!” docs would exclaim, and react in mild surprise when I informed them it was Hungarian.

Funny too, to have my identifying name be Hungarian when I so proudly identify as Ukrainian. Being so close to my maternal family, I had often considered changing my surname to my mom’s maiden name. But even after my dad left the picture and my mom remarried and changed her name yet again, something kept me from relinquishing Matyas. I think I always knew that there was no danger of me losing my Ukrainian roots, what with my own interest in the culture and the plenitude of family connections wrapped around me. But my surname was my one link to my paternal side, and I could not deny that for both better and worse, that side of my family also played a role in shaping me.

When Mom and I were plotting our route, we realized that the overnight train from Vienna to Lviv would pass right through Hungary. So we broke a long travel day into two and planned an overnight stop in my fatherland: beautiful Budapest.

Budapest is a city that deserves the sighs of appreciation that inevitably accompany any mention of it. Architecturally speaking, it is stunning, offering graceful views of sweeping bridges and domed spires from nearly any vantage point. Historically speaking, it is the ancient throne of King Mátyás Hunyadi Corvinus aka “Mátyás the Just.” Born in Transylvania (um, awesome), King of Hungary from 1458-90 (with stints in Austria, Italy, Burgundy, and Bohemia!), famous for his exorbitant and controversial tax reforms, renowned as a “friend of the Muses” who loved reading and languages (and also astrologers, but apparently he was a fan of “real scientists” too). And, of course, my great-great-great-great—ad nauseam—granddaddy.

 


History sticks to your feet and leaves sometimes indelible traces of itself in the whorls of your soles and the creases behind your knees, even in the case of an ancient King with gossamer-thin claims to my present. But setting foot in this lovely and beloved city and seeing my name – my mispronounced, misspelled, “unusual,” name with all its hard history in my personal family story – written on street signs, on the currency, and on one of the principal landmarks of the city was unexpectedly and breathtakingly emotional for me.

 

Yes, I am proudly Ukrainian. But I was also so proud to be a Mátyás in Hungary, and to claim my part of the beautiful and challenging story that is constantly unfurling from ancient past to my present.

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