Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Success rewarded on the Danube Bend

Fall is here. We turned on the heat and going out outside in the daytime requires at least a sweater. Today Lucia (my wife) and I hiked across the mountainous north peninsula of the Danube Bend from the riverside village of Nagymaros to the riverside village of Zebegeny on the other side. The hike was amazing through a cool, damp wild wood with a primeval sort of fragrance, punctuated by old hand-carved wooden crucifixes stemming from stone monuments with carved inscriptions written in German dating from the late 1800s. The villages themselves were even cooler, each set in the Danumbe valley surrounded by mountains. The architecture was a mix of old and new with oldest structures dating back several centuries with others - smaller wooden houses built in a black forest motif - just a few years old. The elevated train station in Nagymaros with its elevated covered platform harkened back to an earlier era of prosperity when it must have bustled as a distant suburb of a bustling pre-war Budapest.

The houses of Nagymaros are built on the hillside rising up from the Danube, giving each of them a view of the mountains on the opposite side, in particular the castle hill topped by Visigrad castle. How amazing it must be to wake up and stare across the river at a castle-topped peak! Straight out of fairyland. And it's so green and wooded and - yes - forgotten. There are visible signs of modest prosperity, but no obvious connection to contemporary commerce. Scarcely any advertising, no big-name businesses of any kind. Just outdoor fruit and vegetable grocers, some folklore shops, a cafe or two, a butcher and so forth, a general store. All winding around narrow hillside streets.

Both Lucia and I agreed we would be happy to move to one of these little towns.

All this followed a weekend of some minor celebrations following a long-awaited payment from my key client and the publication of vol.1 no.1 of my new column, The Energy Source, in the Budapest Business Journal. I have been working steadily for several weeks and doing interesting and challenging projects and finally some tangible rewards are coming in. My health is back. My mission now is to keep things on track.