The breakfast arrangements at this hotel were of the abominable buffet variety where one is charged for the privilege of serving oneself with a selection of cold cuts and cheeses. My friend however, was in excellent spirits.
“Behold! An all you can eat affair, is it not? Yet they are obviously of the opinion that providing plates the size of saucers will prevent me from extracting as much value as is possible from the cost of our room. Very well. The gauntlet has been thrown. I accept the challenge.”
In all, I witnessed him make three passes of the table; on each occasion he returned with a plate heaped so high that I feared for the carpet and the safety of other guests. I need not have worried; his dexterity when it came to the consumption of a hotel’s profit margin was a wonder to behold.
His repast was curtailed only by the imminent arrival of our jarvey who was to take us through the city to the venue of my friend’s lectures.
The journey through the city was no less traumatic than had been the one into it, our frenetic passage broken only as we crossed the majestic Danube into the bustle of Pesth. I left my friend at the door with a promise to return for luncheon.
It was on the stroke of one that he burst out of the building, took me by the arm and led me away at some speed.
“Did it not go well?”
“On the contrary. It went swimmingly. They were agog. I feel in need of heroic company. Let us away to the square!”
I regretted not having followed his example when we had broken our fast. Luncheon was a rapidly fading prospect.
“Just look at this lot. We’ve got Nelson and the bloody lions and they’ve got this. No fucking contest whatsoever.”
It was indeed impressive. A monumental square dedicated to Heroes of the Republic. From the first Hungarian king all the way to Kossuth who had called the people of Alföld to arms against the Hapsburgs. All represented in bronze within a semi-circular colonnade but it was to the centerpiece of the square that my friend hied me. Here were huge figures on horseback, pagans all. The leaders of the original seven tribes who had first settled this area, although conquered would probably be more accurate; and judging by their fearsome appearance, none would have willingly stood in the way of their progress.
“Get a load of these guys. Christ, I’d’ve loved to have had the chance of a revel or two with this lot. A history like this and it took them 40 odd years to get rid of the Red Army; probably too busy wassailing to notice, I shouldn’t wonder. Woke up one morning with the mother of all hangovers, realized Ivan was still here and kicked him back to the Caucasus before breakfast, I expect. Jeez, this is something.”
Indeed it was, and is. But I am old and tired and my deadline approaches relentlessly. Maybe I can prevail upon my friend to continue this narrative at some later date on his own account.
Until such time, I must remain,
Your faithful servant,