After Budapest, London. I had a short meeting at the Royal Astronomical society in Burlington house, certainly a hallowed hall of learning. There was some time before and during the meeting to walk around town and take pictures. It’s challenging taking pictures at night on film, but I think I am learning…
The lights of Leicester Square at night,
Polite people queuing for a party,
A business dinner at night, yes these are serious people,
Having a drink at night, of course,
And now in Burlington house, a great seat of learning in Picadilly,
But see how serious everyone is ! It looks like being in church.
I made a short trip with ML to Budapest a few weeks ago. Budapest is one of those cities I visited when I first ‘discovered’ Europe in the early 90s before leaving for Canada for two years. Quite a few of those cities I have never returned to since then: Budapest, Prague, Vienna. You see, back then, I was attracted to this part of the world. For me Europe was above all Mitteleuropa, it was not the Mediterranean Europe of France, Spain and Italy. In fact, during those first few visits to Europe, I didn’t even visit Italy. Coming from the North, for me Italy seemed to be chaotic and noisy. Today, of course, I feel differently. But meanwhile, in my mind, Budapest rests frozen in the summer of 1991. What it would be like today?
After a short flight from Orly, we arrived at night:
it was bitterly cold, but I had my heavy coat for the mountains.
There is certainly a particular atmosphere in this city at night,
and at the same time there is no question that things have changed,
and the city is not as it was before. Although Budapest, as I learned, was always even in the depths of communism, a city known for its cosmopolitan lifestyle. But now some strange choices are being proposed:
However, some things do not change, people still swim outside in at Széchenyi in winter when the temperature is barely above freezing:
There are still a few mysterious things to see,
Many buildings have been restored, but not all of them,
there are still a few traces left from before the arrival of modern-day plate-glass windows,
Certainly food is important,
and during our stay we went to some wonderful bars and restaurants,
and outside in streets, you certainly need to wrap up warm:
And suddenly it was time to leave. Waiting at Budapest airport to board the plane in the depths of winter is a unique experience:
… and we were back in Paris once again. I enjoyed immensely our short visit, and hope to return soon…
Each year in January, as part of my teaching duties at IAP, I travel with the students to the Observatoire de Haut-Provence (OHP). That is perhaps for another post. In 2016, I discovered that a certain famous photographer is buried in Montjustin, which is just a few minutes drive from OHP, so on this years’ trip I decided to make a visit.
Montjustin is a tiny hilltop village just off the main road between Forcalquier and Apt. Driving up the road I missed the turn-off, and had to double-back. You drive up a tiny narrow road, where there just enough space for one car. There are a few ancient houses crowded on the top of the hill. When I was there, the village was in the clutches of winter, the water was frozen in the wells and the trees were bare of leaves. I looked for the cemetery, but I could not find it, and finished giving up and going into the cafe in the town hall on the top of the hill. I said to the friendly person I found there, “So, I am going to ask the question that everyone who visits here asks”, and she replied “go ahead and ask it”!. So I did. The cemetery was just on the bottom of the hill, surrounded by tall cypresses. A beautiful location. Inside, a few plain stone graves. For one of them, I felt that I could only pictures using my 50mm lens, photographers will understand.
I returned later in the week, in sunshine, with a colleague, and we had a coffee on in the converted town-hall. There was some wonderful winter sunshine, too. Certainly I will return next year…