What better way to begin a Saturday than with an early morning phone call asking what I’m up to. mmmm… it’s Saturday. Not yet 9 am. I’m not even up. Had I heard about the new market on Haller utca? mmmm… do I even know where Haller utca is? As the remnants of the last week finally leave me and my brain starts to function again, the map comes into focus. Yes… that’s the street that runs between Űllöi and Mester… crosses Űllöi at Nagyvárad tér. I know where I am. So, apparently, the old farmers market has been revived with old tents being replaced with new stalls in Haller Park. Now, from what I heard, I had visions of a big market. Nothing specific gave me that impression – so there’s no suggestion of misrepresentation – I just expected a lot more than what I saw when I got there. Yes, the food seemed fresh. Yes, the people seemed friendly. Yes, the new stalls looked well. But Lehel tér, it ain’t!
Still, now that I was down in this part of the world, there was Haller Park to check out [note: not to be confused with Haller Park in Mombasa]. Once the biggest park in Budapest, it now has to content itself with being the biggest park in District IX. A little overgrown and wild, it’s easy to imagine that you’re miles from the city and not just 4km to that milestone at the start of the Clark Adam tunnel. Haller Camping would have you think that you’re in the heart of the city (I wonder how many unsuspecting tourists were caught out with than one, or would anyone in their right mind expect to find a campground in the ‘heart of the city’?) Still, seeing the campground crossed another unknown off my list. No longer will I have to plead ignorance when I’m asked directions (you’d be surprised the number of people who want to find the place!).And they’re right when they call it ‘the silent park’. You could hear a leaf fall.
Another find was St István’s hospital. Never knew where that was either! It’s a grim looking place, mind you, and I’ll die happier if I never get to see the inside of it. I’d passed Szent Vince’s church many times but never ventured across the intersection to check it out. It’s an imposing building on the corner of Haller and Mester but alas, it’s only open during mass times (or at least that’s what I could decipher from the notice on the door). That’s once a day for an hour. What a waste. And what a reflection on society! Churches that should be open to provide refuge and sanctuary from the teeming masses, from the 24/7 mania that is 21st century living, have shut their doors and barred their congregations. Was not impressed.