Saturday, July 15, 2006

Bastille Day Celebrations

The French Institute decided to have the Bastille Day celebrations a day late, since it fell on a Friday. Saturday was the designated day with the street fair and entertainment. We had intended to see what the French do that the Americans here do not do for 4th of July. We invited Angela, a former Fulbright scholar, who is here again studying Hungarian. She in turn invited a new friend from her classes.

With the red metro closed at some stations for the summer reconstruction project, we had to take a tram over the river and then a second tram toward the designated area. The tram, however, only went part of the way due to an additional celebration on the bridge. From there, we walked along the river, the air cooler than during the day, but refreshingly pleasant.

The French festivities went for blocks all riverside, so the cement wall along the river was a convenient place to sit once one had stood in line for food and drink. Avoiding this at first, we weaved in and out of the crowds, the length of the promenade, to see what the offerings were before making any decisions. It was a successful turnout judging from the hordes.

Angela and I had the same thought simultaneously she said when I expressed it; there was no French food, wine, or beer booths. Everything was Hungarian with one exception. The Belgium restaurant had a booth selling beer right outside of their establishment door. This was the disappointment of the evening. We were whetting our appetites for some French morsels, something different from the usual fare available, but it was not going to happen here.

There were two stages set up with music, but the singers were singing in Hungarian. Where was the French influence in any of this? It escaped at least three of us present. The closest we came to having a French experience was to go to the 24 hour palacsinta restaurant. Palacsinta is a Hungarian crepe. It looks like a French crepe; it tastes like a French crepe. For the evening, we pretended our meal was French and not Hungarian. For 890 Huf, we each had 2 savory crepes filled with 2 different meat fillings and 2 with different fruit fillings, and a glass of soda.

As we were eating, now at 10:30 at night, the fireworks started. We could see most from our outdoor seating. At first the fireworks were red, white, and blue, the colors of the French flag, but then green was added, the color in the Hungarian flag.

As we were eating, we were wondering how many people would have attended if there were no Hungarian food or drink available, but only French? The common consensus was few.

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