"Have you any Hungarian currency?" the Hungarian customs official asked. As we denied that we had any (Hungarian law forbids importing or exporting its currency), he smiled broadly, "Drugs? Shotguns?"
Hungarian customs was just as Joel had described it to me - the check of the passport against three different books, the questioning about weapons, all carried out cheerfully and efficiently.
We passed customs and rode on into Hungary. At each train stop, we heard the peculiar jingle which Hungarians play at train stations, "Da da-da da da-da da." The housing style changed: Hungarian houses have roofs with a bend in them, the gentle slope at the top turning to a sharper slope at the sides. Leather jackets, absent in former Yugoslavia, began to make an appearance.
Budapest is a beautiful, lively city. Street vendors sell leather goods, postcards, packaged men's shirts - almost anything, it seems. Shops sell lace, embroidery, and paprika. Restaurants sell traditional Hungarian food, but also US, Italian, and Arabic food. We saw a "New York Topless Bar" and a "Chicago" restaurant which sold "burgers, chips, Tex Mex, fajitas, and nachos." Also a "Szex Shop." At a square, we saw traditional folk dancing - but not traditional Hungarian folk dancing. This was the Johnny Walker Festival, featuring traditional Scottish dancing.
The next day, we went to European house to meet with Miklos Borobash, the former head of the Hungarian Communist youth movement, and now a peace movement leader (and one of the organizers of the peace camp at Subotica which Joel attended). Sitting in comfortable armchairs, we were met by a middle aged man in a business suit. Occasionally during the conversation, we were interrupted by phone calls.
We had two messages for Miklos Borobash: a request from Zoran Ostric of the Zagreb peace movement to arrange monthly meetings in Budapest between the Zagreb and Beograd peace groups, and a request from the Osijek peace group for the Hungarian peace movement to facilitate communication with Baranja. Joel had told me that Miklos Borobash is a cautious man, and he received our proposals cautiously. The second, not surprisingly, was impossible at this time. Even Serbian peace groups are not able to contact Baranja. The first Miklos received with a mixture of caution and sympathy. The Hungarians need to move carefully, so as not to endanger the ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina. No commitment could be made at this time. But if he received proposals directly from both peace groups, those proposals would be seriously considered.
At night, Joel took me to the river. Near the bridge, a man played music quietly on an instrument he had made himself. Further away, Latin American musicians performed in the street and sell their tapes. The view from the bridge was beautiful, illuminated by the glow of lights on the Parliament building and the castle.