Spring arrived early in Budapest this year, not a moment too soon. The weather warmed up in March, so we've been back on our bikes riding around town avoiding the rising price of metro tickets as much as possible. The last two weeks have been sunny and warm, and half the city has been out walking around, taking the family to Margit Island and soaking up the solar rays.
Sunday was a big outdoor day in Budapest - there was a marathon race running through Northern Budapest, as well as a family friendly version of Critical Mass bike run and, as always when there is a Critical Mass event, the WAMP fashion market (above) at Deák tér.
Fashion is as fashion does, and the National Folk Festival (or the Dance House Meeting as we know it here) was held on April 4th this year, and as always half of Transylvania was there selling folk costumes. The festival has become increasingly a marketplace for folk dancers over the last few years, and now that it is back in the concrete monstrosity of the Sport Arena it seems to have lost a lot of the funky goodness that it used to have. Of course, the peasant ladies of Szék are always there, dressed as always in their red or black costumes. These folks figured out the folk music and dance market as far back as the 1940s, and due to the unique (strange?) sociology of the village itself, they've maintained their dress codes far longer and stronger than mst other Transylvanian villagers. The black head kerchiefs? They wear them in mourning for the destruction caused by the Mongol invasion of the 13th century. That's a pretty stubborn sense of fashion statement.
What gets me about the Dance House Festival is the crap treatment given to the musical participants, while the commercial crafts sellers seem to be catered to head and toe. The main live music jam are is located outside the stadium, in a dark fenced off area of the bus station parking lot called the "Folk Tavern." Here you can buy overpriced sausage, pricey watered beer, and hear great folk musicians from all around country playing in the acoustic spledour of a long distance bus garage.
Another harbinger of spring is garbage day. Garbage day came a month early out here in Zugló this year. The neighborhood goes into a frenzy of tossing out and picking up used crap. The streets were filled with Gypsy families who rent trucks and follow the schedule of junk days around the country collecting, very politely and professionally going for recyclable metal and old carpets. People would wait by the building and ask "Would you, perhaps, be throwing out any carpets this year? Old clothes? Computer stuff?" And yes, we did throw out a lot of all those things. And amazingly, we didn't bring anything off the streets back into the house...