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Friday, July 15, 2011

More Horse-Happy Budapest Travelogue

IMG_0163 We have finished our first week of classes in the summer LL.M. program here in Budapest (at the Eötvös Lorand Tudomanyegyetem, pictured left, aka ELTE, and translated as the Lorand Eötvös - that's a name, and in Hungarian last names come first as in China - Science University).  I am sitting in the very bright, very new Budapest airport, waiting for several hours to catch a flight to Milan, where I will rent a car and drive to Carate Urio on Lake Como to meet my lovely bride of going on 32 years.  This airport is really quite nice (with free Wi-Fi) except for three things:  (a) very few seats near the gates (I suspect to encourage spending money at restaurants or duty-free); (b) not enough power outlets; and (c) the exceedingly annoying two young men speaking German and giggling directly behind me.  

As I am killing time, this could well be a long post, although it just occurred to me that Dan Markel's IMG_0293 demand for blog posts is contra to and perhaps far more rational than the demand for pre-tenure scholarly writing; ceteris paribus, blog posts should be short, frequent, and interesting.  Well, as with NPR Car Talk, you've probably just wasted a perfectly good ninety seconds reading this far, but if you are intrigued, here goes with more reflections of a horse-happy American in Budapest. 

At right, that's the Buda Castle, taken from across the Danube in Pest, as I was walking back to the hotel last night.  It was the royal palace; now it's the National Museum and Library.   I walked up there to see a dressage performance by the Epona Spanish Riding School.  More on the performance and, as we say in Hungarian, lovasok (horses), after the mandatory break.

But first, another comment on language.  I mentioned in a previous post how merely saying "thank you" to a shopkeeper prompted her to ask whether I spoke Hungarian.   (Imagine this for a moment at Kennedy Airport.  German person buys a newspaper.  Says "senk you," which I'm sure is what my Hungarian sounded like to a Hungarian.  Clerk says with just a soupçon of pride, "oh, do you speak English?  Right.)   It is absolutely the case that my willingness to pepper my lectures with the occasional Hungarian word that I've picked up is the best IMG_0220icebreaker I have.   I used the word "szaz" for 100 today, prompting oohs and aahs, but that's not hard because the restaurant next door to my hotel is "Szazéves" (sahz-EV-esh) or "100 years."  I used my usual hypothetical to get at the cash generating value of an otherwise low hard asset business (here making sweet paprika packages for tourists) and used the word "jacsko" (plural:  "jacskok") for cheap little bag, but the evening before I had been at the little grocery store, where it is expected you bring your own bag.  I didn't have one, so I fumbled with my dictionary in line so that I could say "jacsko" to the clerk and get a little bag.

But I digress.  As my Facebook friends know, because my current profile picture is of me cantering on Moonie the Dutch Warmblood, learning how to ride a horse has been IMG_0274my primary diversion for the last two years.  Horseback riding, and particularly the formal art of dressage, or very precise movements requiring skill and training of horse and rider is big here in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.  This is in contrast to the other major non-Western riding activity, which involves jumping over fences either in the ring or in the field.  Simply because it reflects the teachers who have been available to me, I ride with a hunter/jumper instructor in Massachusetts and a dressage instructor in Michigan. 

My adventure on Tuesday was to take a bus, a tram, and another bus (about an hour) up into the hills that constitute the semi-rural outskirts of Buda to meet Krisztina, the director of the riding program at the Petnehazy Lovascentrum (Horse Center).  And, of course, the  minute I got there, I wanted to ride IMG_0290despite the fact I hadn't brought my riding gear (pants, boots, helmet, and "half-chaps").  But as I was to meet Alene in Lake Como, I persuaded her to pack the stuff and bring it to me, so I now have two lessons scheduled with Krisztina next week in IMG_0264 which I will ride Vidam ("Happy"), who posed for me in the picture above.   I don't know if Vidam is really happy, but I suspect life is better than when he was a carriage horse as was described to me.

Then I happened to notice in the hotel tourist magazine that the Epona school would be holding a show in one of the courtyards of the Buda Palace on Thursday.  So I walked up there last night.   These are Spanish bred horses, trained at the Epona school, which has been around now for about five years.  The really magical thing was the setting, in the courtyard just below the dome (right), with the ensemble pictured above, and these amazing horses and riders doing amazing things.

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw on July 15, 2011 at 10:06 AM | Permalink


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