In my country.....
Romania some time in the early 80's
Me: Mama unde te duci? ....in english Mom where are you going?
Mama: To Budapest!
Me: What's Budapest?
Mama: Well it's a city in Hungary, and I've been trying to get permission to go for the past 6 years and now finally I can go for 3 days! Mommy will bring you back candy and a pretty doll.
Me: OOoohhh candy! What's Budapest?
Mama: It's the Paris of the east!
Me: What's Paris? Can I come with you?
Mama: No my love, I can't go if you come with me, you're going to stay with grandma and Simona (my cousin)
Me: and then I'll get candy?
So yeah, after years of trying to get a holidays approval from the government (love communist Romania) my mom finally got permission, on the condition that I didn't go with her, to go for 3 days in Budapest. I don't remember much of my mom's visit, what I do remember is how preoccupied she was with making sure she got stuff for everyone back in Romania.
The thing was that Hungary and Romania were both communist in the same manner as the US and Mexico are both democracies. Geographically and on paper not so different, however in reality not so much the same either. Hungary had a more open policy, believed in a certain level of freedom and offering it's citizens a certain lifestyle level (in relative terms) whereas in Romania under Ceausescu things were very different. You can imagine my mom who has lived her entire life in an oppressive regime, waiting in line for food, getting one american movie every week...... ending up in Budapest for 3 days.
Budapest went from being one of Europe`s art capitals, a favourite destination of the last Hapsburgs, to a lost city behind the iron curtain......somewhat of a mystery after many years in hiding. I think because of my own roots and remembering my mom talking about Budapest like it was the hope diamond of Europe, I`ve always been excited or intrigued by the idea of going there.
So there I was :)