We arrive around 8h30 -Central European time- in Budapest and are in awe that a train can take so long, we already left Bucharest at 17h30. At this side of Europe, a train ride gives a real on-the-road-feeling, which suits the Yolda-project. We immediately check in and take a very welcome shower. We skip breakfast and go for an early lunch straight away with pumpkin soup, potato pancakes … The weather, however, is not very autumnal: the sun is shining and we walk around without a sweater. In the afternoon, we suspend our search for record stores and Mathijs takes us to a cozy restaurant named ‘Castro’. We tasted the best pálinka I ever had, and promptly there is an additional goal for the next day.
In the record stores I found some old recordings of Roma music, a few too expensive LPs of Kolinda, and tons of Hungarian music that really intrigues me. A CD with a reunion concert of Makam and Kolinda, a compilation CD of Behs o Drom, an old CD of Makam (the 12 other albums I really wanted I had to leave there) and my forints are done. If I could pay with my bank card the situation would have gotten out of hand. One last beer near the hotel, but we don’t make it late this time, we’re still exhausted from the train ride.
The last breakfast tastes really good: well-seasoned Hungarian paprika spread, fresh peppers taste nowhere like in Hungary. Jasper has found a curious repetition space, the suite of the hotel, overlooking the city. The sun, however, shines too bright so we decide not to rehearse on the terrace but inside.
Meriç has received instructions from Istanbul, over the phone, and we go through the ” traffic” of the songs. The first time it’s a bit harder to rehearse the songs, but afterwards it goes swiftly. We change up the structure a little bit and try to imagine the second harp and vocals / percussion that will join us. I try to convince the musicians to take into account the audience: first of all, if we play an acoustic session it’s important not to play too quiet. We can’t give the audience the time to start chatting, therefore we have to build up the tension very fast and can’t let go.
At 13h we need to leave our lookout over the city and we go into town for some souvenirs to take home. After lunch on a terrace in the sun we’re only left with a few more hours. The record stores I leave to the last . A bottle of raspberrypalinka: check, something crafty and board games: check , a woolen cap: check , and a last pint before we go to the station.
The taxi drivers on arrival were coarse and expensive, the contrast with our driver now couldn’t be bigger. With great enthusiasm he made a nice puzzle of all instrument cases, suitcases and travel bags in the trunk and there’s still room for ourselves in the van. Attila was his name, a Turkish first name that often occurs in Hungary. He asks us what we have seen and gives suggestions for our next visit .
Just in time for a quick visit to the supermarket for supplies and then we leave for Belgium. Meriç and Mehmet sit in 1st class, we travel in 2nd class, this time we’re not on the road together. Playing music was unfortunately not an option, people are sleeping next to us and the train conductor makes it very clear that this is a SLEEP train.
An hour later, the train stops in Györ where our Hungarian team hops on. We catch up, share drinks, but the party doesn’t last too long; the conductors close the passage to 1st class, so the four of us stay in 2nd class. The train races at an incredible high speed to Munich, and sleeping goes fairly well. In Munich we make a transfer to Cologne.
Text written by Mattias Laga, clarinetist and saxophonist from the jazz scene