Our first journey to the North of the city was uneventful and interspersed with bouts of hysteria when we all had to lean forward to make the small car go up a steep hill. We were surprised to see the whole choir and orchestra waiting on the steps of the ancient church as we pulled up. There had been a problem with the key but eventually we were allowed inside the cavernous space.
The children sang beautifully in the middle of a full service with communion and there was lots of chanting and incense waving. We just had time to wave goodbye as they were whisked off on the coach again.
The next morning was time for sightseeing after a quick breakfast of Hungarian cheeses and Kifli, a type of strudel. I noticed then that a large percentage of the population spoke English. We stopped for a coffee in Starbucks and we could as well have been in London.
We managed to see the Museum of Fine Arts and the Vigado Concert Hall in the morning before hurrying back to the hotel to catch our ride to Visegrad Castle which was the venue for that day’s concert.
An hour’s drive later when we arrived at the castle it was to find a thirteenth century edifice looking out over the Danube River built after the Mongol invasion of 1240 and it had been enlarge many times since then.
It was not immediately obvious where we were to go for the singing festival so we each split up and took a different path around the castle.
I found a notice board with the history of the castle in both Hungarian and English. Holding my hat tightly as it was very windy on the brow of the hill, I began to read out loud
“The castle at Visegrad had been made the royal seat of Hungary in 1288 by King Stephen. When King Sisismund of Hungary became Holy Roman Emperor in 1405 he moved the capital to Buda.Visegrad became the country seat for the Hungarian rulers and when Corvinus rebuilt it as a royal residence it was along a mainly Italianate style.After the line of Hungarian Kings ended with the battle in Mohacs in 1526 ,Visegrad has been slowly left to decay.”
My eyes were constantly searching for my friends as I stood on the brow of that magnificent hill .Suddenly and then faintly in the distance, then sounding just like a kettle drum, the thud of hooves came upon me.
Still as a statue I stood, as a traditionally dressed Magyar horseman flew right by me with his sword arm outstretched. In the distance and riding towards him was another Magyar soldier on a huge black stallion, with his sword drawn.
There was a lot of yelling and shouting going on and to be honest I was just about to join with them in a cacophony of terrified wailing when I realised I was actually in a safe part of the field. The mock battle was going to take place about fifty feet away from me.
Suddenly my daughter put her arm through mine and said “Come on Mother, the concert is over here”.
Excerpt from The Communication Generation due to be published in 2015