Repression, Expression, Libation

By Stephen | May 28, 2013

2310 km so far.

Hungary’s history during the twentieth century is quite incredible. Empire building followed by great loss of land and power in WWI, a brief period of democracy, a Nazi takeover, a fight for freedom, Soviet occupation, a period of brutality, a revolution that was crushed, followed by “happy communism”. Finally, in 1990, a light shone through the darkness with the fall of the Soviet Union.

The whole history of violence and repression is documented at the Terror Haza, or House of Terror in English. Situated in the very building that was the center of detention and execution in Budapest, the Terror Haza is a superb memorial to those imprisoned and killed by the terror regimes that ruled Hungary for decades.

Side note: If you want to know more about this era in Hungary, read “Enemies of the People” by Kati Marton, whose parents were imprisoned in the mid-50s, for being high-profile intellectuals. It’s a fascinating, suspenseful read.

Pedal And Go

After this somber start to the day, we picked up our spirits by picking up our bikes from Recikli bike shop.

The crew at the shop were excited for our trip and we are so grateful to them for helping get our bikes back into shape. They did a fantastic job and as we pedalled away our bikes felt incredible.

Stephen, Jane, and the guys from Recikli. Thanks guys, our bikes feel great!

Stephen, Jane, and the guys from Recikli. Thanks guys, our bikes feel great!

I went to lunch with my old friend Attila, who I have known for about 15 years, but have not seen for a decade. We worked together back in my record industry days, and it is because of Attila that we have new friends in Barbi and David, and that we have had such a fantastic home in Budapest. Attila has been away while we’ve been in town, so this was our first chance to meet up. We made plans after lunch to have cocktails at his flat tonight, so we’ll get to spend some more time reminiscing.

Work Hard And Grow

I never know who will come to the yoga classes that I teach on this grand adventure. I know when I was at home, and a teacher I didn’t know would come to town for a special class, it was hard to find the motivation to go. So it was a wonderful surprise to have a dozen students for my class tonight at Asram Yoga. The class was mixed (what class isn’t?), and everyone was incredibly attentive and good at following directions (one of the joys of teaching in Central/Eastern Europe).

We had a terrific time, laughing and trying to take on the challenges I presented to them with an open mind and open heart. Our theme was to find the strength to take on new opportunities, and they were masterful at this. I threw difficult poses at them so they could learn that it doesn’t matter what the end result is, but that the important work is in making the effort, and learning from the experience.

After class a few of us went out for dinner, which is the perfect way to end this kind of class. It gives me a chance to learn a bit more about the students, and for them to learn a bit more about who I am when I am not at the front of the room.

Play Hard And Glow

Then it was cocktail time.

Barbi, David, Jane, and I headed to Attila’s flat which is right under the castle. It’s not a dungeon though. From half of his flat you are presented with stunning views of the fully lit castle. Unbelievable.

His flat is also quite unbelievable. He designed the entire place (with the help of an architect) and did a spectacular job of putting it together. The flat even has a fully stocked bar that would put many commercial bars to shame.

We drank Cosmopolitans that were expertly crafted by Attila. By his account they are his signature drink. They seemed to flow endlessly into my glass all night long. We had an laughter-filled evening of conversation, punctuated by the latest, greatest (and worst) pop hits of Europe. It was very hard to leave. However, around 3am we realised if we wanted to get home on our own accord it had better be soon. The four of us left Attila’s and enjoyed a happily drunken cool evening walk along the Danube, with the beauty of Budapest all around us.

A perfect end to a perfect visit.  

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6 comments

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  5. Comment by Andrew

    Andrew Reply May 31, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Awesome story! Even more of an awesome time! Did you guys plan on teaching at all of these places or did it happen by random?

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen May 31, 2013 at 11:41 am

      Apart from Rome none of the teaching was booked before the trip, but I have been reaching out to studios and friends as we get close to their studios. Since we’re on bikes it’s hard to book much in advance, but having classes to teach all lined-up puts the power in my pedals! I have two classes coming up in Kraków! Can’t wait.

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