I don’t particularly look Irish. I don’t look not Hungarian either. There’s nothing discernable from how I dress or walk or laugh that sets me apart from most Hungarians I know. Except, of course, for when I speak. This is particularly pertinent at flea markets. In Hungary, flea markets are great unlevellers. Even for külföldiek (foreigners) who are well versed in how the markets work, there’s a two-tier system in operation. Read more
One of the many joys of living in the Hungarian countryside is that there’s always somewhere new to explore. Last weekend, with visitors in, we headed over to Hévíz to check out the market. Having heard that it was more upmarket than many in the ‘hood, I had some expectations. Hévíz is an odd place. Home to the largest outdoor thermal lake in the world, allegedly, the smell of sulphur hangs in the air. Floating in the lake doesn’t do it for me and the spa pools inside have been full to capacity the few times I’ve been there – it’s a favourite with Russian, German, and Hungarian tourists. Back in the day, I wonder how many listeners were paid to while away the hours inside.
The town itself has a funny feel to it, too. I can’t quite put my finger on why. It’s as if it’s somewhere it shouldn’t be, and yet I’ve no idea where I’d put it, were I giving Hungary a make-over. Most odd. Anyway, the market, thankfully, was everything I expected and more.
It’s neatly divided (the whole town is neat) into three sections – produce, flea and craft – and the craft section had stuff on offer that I’ve not seen before. If you do the rounds of Christmas and Easter markets in the country, it soon starts looking pretty much the same. But I was pleasantly surprised. Produce is produce – it’s long since ceased to amaze me. We’re very spoiled here – there are so many produce markets offering high-quality fruit and veg that I’m in danger of taking them all for granted. Furniture in the flea end was scarce – which was a shame – but there was plenty of other stuff on offer, presided over by a friendly lot who were quite open to engaging in conversation. Lots of German spoken.
I passed a painting on my way in and stopped when I heard it whisper. None of the others heard anything and none of them seemed that taken with it. On the way out, we passed it again. And the whisper got stronger. But again, I was the only one hearing it. I think the chap said it was by an Austrian artist – but perhaps it was German? Am not sure. But KV definitely isn’t/wasn’t Hungarian. Himself didn’t seem at all impressed and as I already had it hanging on the wall in his office, he needed to be vested in the purchase. He was all for buying it anyway (appeasement), but I took to stook (as I’ve been known to do) and we left emptyhanded. Back in the car, I was still hearing it, and when the practical RL pointed out that it was 10 000ft (about €32 or $26) – money I could afford to lose if it turned out to be a bad fit – himself went back to buy it. Shutting me up was worth the money.
Back home, the lads hung it. And later in the week I found the right coloured cushions to tie it in to the room. And I love it. Yep – when you hear the whisper, when you heed the call, it works out.