On Saturday I went to another festival. Surprising, I know. Apparently Hungary has myriad things to celebrate. I opted out of the Sweet Days (Édes Napok) chocolate festival, but the National Gallop (Nemzeti Vágta) lured me out of my flat. The National Gallop was accompanied by the Craft Beer Festival, of which I did not take part in. In general I do not drink, and if I do beer is certainly not on the list.
I went to the festival with Matt and Kendahl. We meandered up and down the middle of Andrassy Avenue (Andrassy út) – it was pedestrian-only for the day and lined with several booths. Andrassy út is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, first recognized in 2002. In addition, the world’s second oldest metro system runs down the length of the street. We met up with some of Matt and Kendahl’s friends, ate questionably large sausages, purchased a thing or two, and made our way to Heroes’ Square (Hősök tere) for the horse races. I kept singing “Off to the Races” by Lana Del Rey and envisioning myself in the video for “Radar” by Britney Spears. Pop culture – I am totally immersed.
Matt and Kendahl.
The National Gallop celebrates Hungary’s equestrian traditions in the form of horse races and other events which highlight the hussar culture in particular. Hussar is a form of light calvary which was formed in the 15th century. Vilmos Lázár, the head of the National Gallop, states that it “is not only a horse race, but much more: it is a traditional, emblematic event depicting history.”
Let me now share the National Gallop’s description, which was crafted out of cherubs, shooting stars, and fairy dust: “It’s the National Gallop, the grandest of festivals on the grandest of scales. It’s a rather new Hungarian invention – a monumental reinvention of history and tradition. Just imagine. Heroes’ Square, transformed into a racetrack with 6,200 square meters’ worth of special equine-friendly sand. Grandstands in front of the two museums that flank the square, the biggest screens you’ve ever seen broadcast- ing the action, flags flying – the excitement will be palpable… And they’re off! Young jockeys, modern-day hussars on horseback, tear around the track. Hooves are pounding, dirt is flying, the crowd is cheering. Again and again, since as many as 250 horses and riders will compete for the 21.5-mil- lion-forint cash prize, a glittering sword, and national glory. There will also be mock horse- back battles, amazing archers shooting arrows on galloping horses…” SOLD.
When we reached the square, huge stands blocked us from seeing what was happening inside. As we were laughing at our predicament, the mass of people we were standing with began to move forward. Instead of trying to swim upstream and fight against the crowd, we succumbed to our fate and ended up in the middle of the square. Matt, Kendahl, and I took a few pictures and as we tried to exit the center of the square, we realized that we were locked in… for forty-five minutes. It wasn’t a problem for me, but I witnessed a girl try (and fail) to flirt with a guard to let her out. Instead of paying for seats, we were treated to free views of the races. I am sure that I could have touched a horse had I been bold and stupid enough. The people in the stands cheered louder than I had initially anticipated. This passion could directly correlated to the fact that several people had placed bets on the outcome of the races…
The people I was standing by knew this guy.
We eventually escaped our entrapment and ran into other CETP teachers – Chaz, Cory, and James – in the craft beer side of the festival. Although I am not much of a drinker, I really enjoy the lack of stigma against drinking in Europe. The drinking culture is relaxed and I have encountered less bingers (maybe this is just me being out of college).
Fall has arrived in Hungary. Yesterday was absolutely beautiful – it was quite possibly the last sunny, high 70s day until April. I walked around for a bit in the forest by my flat. I tried walking again after dinner, but I was somehow locked in my apartment building?
I have mentioned before that my laptop is broken (again, I apologize for the compact camera pictures). One of my professors (that’s you, Dr. A!) suggested that I make a GoFundMe page in attempt to raise money. So far I have raised $440. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far. ❤
I also tutor to help supplement my income. This is what tutoring looks like sometimes.
A Lesson From Miss Jennifer: If you are planning on going to a festival, bring hand sanitizer and tissues.