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My Hungarian Impressions

As a lawyer, I wonder how a law is made. First of all it is made in the parliament.

One of the most beautiful parliament buildings in the world is in Budapest, the capital of Hungary. I wondered why so gorgeous parliament was built in this country. It seemed to me that Hungary was not the first country in the legal world to have the best parliament building. I needed an answer to my question. I needed a story. And I got it. This summer I visited Hungary.

Even if you have not been in Budapest you could see the pictures of the House of Parliament in neo-gothic style on the Danube river bank. It is a notable landmark of Hungary.

I made a tour of the House of Parliament. It was interesting and stimulating. I learned that the Hungarian Parliament was erected at the end of the 19th century when Hungary was a part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. There was economical boom that time and Hungarian territory was 3 times greater.

The parliament building was created by the architect Imre Steindl. His project won the contest among other 18 projects. These other projects were also strong. Some of them were realized later and got many prizes.

Imre Steindl worked on his project during 10 months before the contest. He made by himself all drafts and drawing in details. The construction lasted for almost 20 years. Steindl's work gives us a clear understanding why planning in details the future activity is important.

I was impressed by the amazing interior of the Parliament. There are many statutes inside. 40 kilograms of gold were used for decoration. The frescoes on the ceiling are marvelous.

The centre of the building is the Dome Hall. The dome is 96 meters high. One interesting thing. It is strictly forbidden to make photos in the Dome Hall because there is a glass container with the symbols of royal authority since the Middle Ages: the Holy Crown, the sceptre, the sword and the globus cruciger. Two soldiers guard this glass container. There are a few video cameras on the walls also.

"How lucky you are!" said our tour guide because it was the time of the changing of the guard. Two new soldiers came into the hall. A commander of the guard was with them just for ceremony. They were marching in a solemn way.

But, you know, it was not impressive. At least for me. Because the symbols of royal authority (or tyranny) were nothing in compare with the outstanding creature of Imre Steindl.

There is a famous song about travelling in the summertime: "If you are going to San Francisco..." I would paraphrase it into "If you are going to Szentendre" because this small town near Budapest was my next point on the journey. There are many museums, galleries, souvenir shops, restaurants in this town.

Unexpectedly I stepped closer in Szentendre to a story about my name. Do you know why your parents gave you the name you have? Is there a story behind your name?

My story is quite simple. I was born in USSR in April. All Soviet people celebrated Cosmonautics Day on April 12. I was named after Yuriy Gagarin who first traveled into outer space.

I have read many reminiscences of Yuriy Gagarin. Many of them are false. Some of them are even humorous. For example Nikita Khrushchev mentioned Gagarin's words at the meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of USSR. Khruschev said as a forcible argument for the state's anti-religion campaign: "Gagarin flew into space, but didn't see any god there." However, Yuriy Gagarin didn't say it during his space flight in reality.

I was surprised when I saw a picture of Yuriy Gagarin with his autograph on the shop door in Szentendre.

I met with the owner of this shop. His name is Istwan. He is 88 years old. Istwan served in the Hungarian Ministry of Defense and he was an interpreter when Gagarin came to Hungary in August 1961 during his round-the-world tour after space flight.

Istwan is standing behind Gagarin in this old picture:

Istwan told me about his face-to-face meeting with Gagarin. He claimed that he knew 11 languages and he started to learn Japanese not long ago. Istwan said "What's the problem? Japanese is easy. I am young, I can learn it. My mother-in-law is working in the kitchen now. She is 103 years old." I thought he was kidding. But he started to speak Japanese. I don't know Japanese. But it sounded fluently. I was very impressed by this meeting. I highly recommend you visit Istvan's shop in Szentendre. You'll find it through the picture of Yuriy Gagarin on the shop door.

This is my experience of travelling this summer. I wish you travel much, meet right people, experience new things, learn foreign language and enjoy. If you are going to Budapest, visit Szentendre also. It's worth it. And please give my best regards to Istwan and his mother-in-law.