October 23, 2012

A Life Changing Day

I haven't ever mentioned this, but my grandfather (the one who made our amazing headboard and metal sculptures) was a political prisoner in socialist Hungary.  He was sentenced to life, but released in 1956 after six years, months before the 1956 revolution broke out (click here to read more about the revolution).   My grandmother and grandfather fled to Sweden as refugees because former political prisoners were among those questioned (and severely reprimanded) for real or presumed involvement in the revolution that sought to end Soviet rule of Hungary.  My grandfather only narrowly escaped.  My grandparents married in Sweden, where my Mom was born.  In the 1960s they emigrated to Canada and had to start over again: learning a new language, finding new work, building a new life.  Although my grandmother's two sisters and then later her parents also made new lives in Canada, my grandfather's family did not.  He never had the chance to see his father again, because the socialist authorities denied his father's requests to visit Canada, and my grandfather was unable to return to Hungary before his father's death because he had left illegally.

I feel very privileged to be Canadian, and am always mindful of what my grandparents gave up and how difficult life was for them.

Today marks the anniversary of the 1956 revolution and is a holiday in Hungary.  In honor of this day, that not only forever impacted the lives of Hungarians but also set in motion a chain of events that saw my grandparents living in Canada, I'd like to share some photos of beautiful Budapest.  So far, I've only shared a bit of me at the library and photos of Budapest Design Week (here, here, and here).  Now you have a chance to get a glimpse of life in the city. 

On the way home - (Rákoczi Street)
My favorite bridge - (Szabadság híd or Liberty Bridge)
Faces - (Peterfy Street)
Trabby - (The East German recycled car)
Ticket cashier - (A theatre in our neighbourhood)
Pink bicycle - (Outside WAMP)
Play on words - (A bar beside a denture clinic)
Signs - (Denture clinic)
The view from up here - (A church by our house seen from our window)
Országház - (Parliament)
Mátyás Templom - (Matthias Church)
Mátyás Templom Detail - (Matthias Church)
Take flight - (Buda Castle district)
Window Shopping
Pink Lilies - (Margit Sziget or Margaret Island)
Girl and Streetcar I
Girl and Streetcar II
On the 47 - (In front of Hotel Gellért)
Vroom - (Margit Sziget)
Untitled - (Buda Castle district)

Imports - (Kiraly Street)
Fashion Shoot - (Sculpture in Városliget, or city park)
No Parking
A Perfect Day - (Margit Sziget)
Hot pink - (Margit Sziget)
Musical fountain - (Margit Sziget)
Hat Shop
Petőfi - (Sándor Petőfi wrote the poem I stenciled onto a mirror)
Getting around
Aqua and orange - (A shop by our house)
Candy Coloured
Street Signs


  1. Wow - these are gorgeous. (I bet you could sell prints of these in your etsy shop!)
    And what a rich history you have in your immediate family. It is nice to be reminded that most Canadians came from elsewhere to make Canada their home. :)

    1. Thanks Amy, you're so sweet! I have thought about selling some "art" in my Etsy shop but am petrified of it lingering "on the shelves" so to speak.

      I think so many Canadian families have really interesting, sometimes very sad, histories.

  2. I agree with Amy, I bet some of these would sell!

    1. Awww, thanks Ashley. I will try to work up the courage . . .

  3. And third! These would be great in your shop! (Or a new art shop... but don't go by me, we both know how much I love to start shops...). Amazing photos - and a touching story. In college, most of my friends were from other countries and came to the US to start a new life - some escaping unspeakable things. I may escape the US for Canada some day :)

    1. We Canadians (well, me at least) would welcome you with open arms!

  4. Wonderful and so beautiful!!
    What a full circle family moment for you.
    Thank you for sharing

  5. Thank you for sharing some of our interesting family history. We do forget just how lucky we are to live in this great country.
    Your pictures are lovely. You should be proud of them and your family history. Even the difficult parts as that is what makes us ..... us!

    1. Aren't we lucky in Canada? And you are so right: even the tough parts of life make us, us. I'm happy you enjoyed the photos. I held myself back from sharing 100 or so. I really edited, lol.

  6. What an interesting story about your family...and what beautiful photos of Budapest. Thanks for sharing them with us.

    1. Happy you enjoyed the post, Dana. You'd like my grandpa - he's spunky and a great artist. Plus he and my grandpa apparently picked out some gorgeous mid-century furniture they had to leave in Sweden ("why, why, why?" my Mom always asks - she wishes they'd shipped it to Canada).

  7. Wow, I'm amazed at such a story. Thank you for sharing it and thank you for sharing your photos.

    1. I'm so happy you enjoyed, Julie. I don't often think about it (my grandpa rarely talks about it) but being in Hungary has made it seem more "real" to me. Plus, I've pieced together more bits of my grandparents lives from hearing relatives talk.

  8. Thank you for sharing the story of your grandfather- and the lovely photos. Such a beautiful city!

    off to read more about Hungarian revolution.

    1. Oh, it was horrific! Such violence. I had to do research on it for a part of one of my dissertation chapters and reading one book in particular (with photos of the dead bodies, and details of the tragic end to the many young rebels) actually made me cry for hours.

  9. Beautiful photos, Tanya!!!! I'm so glad that you felt compelled to share your family's story...

    1. I loved your post on travel recently - you inspired me to take some pretty photos. I looked at the city in a whole new light! So thank YOU.

  10. Hi,

    Thank you for taken us along on your journey, the photo's of Budapest are beautiful and yes they would look good in your Etsy shop. Your heart warming story touched me deeply you must be very proud of your grandparents and now to walk in the footsteps they once walked in Hungary sharing and making new memories with your mom it is like coming full circle.

    We are lucky in Canada a country of new and old immigrants who for the most part have interesting stories to pass on to their families.

    I love your mom and your sense of style and look forward to receiving your blog in my inbox.


    Margo on Vancouver island.

    1. Hi Margo,

      Thanks so much for your kind comment. It was so lovely to read your encouraging words! I'm so happy you enjoy reading the blog.

      It is definitely a different feeling hearing stories about my grandparents from relatives and being in Hungary at the same time. I am paying more attention to what their lives must have been like. I always hope other people who, like me, were born in Canada to folks who moved from elsewhere, get a chance to experience their family's past.

  11. Wow - gorgeous photos. Thanks for taking us along on your tour of the city.

  12. I love these pictures, the first one is the best but the green eagle and the roof of the Matthias Cathedral are wonderful too. Excellent work.


  13. Csodaszép képek! Már pár órája olvasgatom a blogod :) Örülök, hogy rád találtam. Egy magyar lány Amerikából, Julcsi

    1. Köszönöm! Nagyon boldog vagyok, hogy tetszik a képek. Elnézést kérek, én nem írok jól - beszélni és olvasni könnyebb :)


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