/18 Family

Michal Solarski

Hungarian Sea

We were heading south. It was the most exciting time of every year. Luggage, fixed to the top of out tiny Fiat made the car look almost as high as it was long. There were three hundred miles to drive but for us it was almost an eternity. Three hundred miles could easily take more than one day if we happened to come accross nasty officers at the border, who would scrutinise our car inside out in case we were smuggling contrabands. My family and I were among the lucky ones who could go and spend holidays in what appeared to us a paradise. For us, coming from sad, cold, and almost monochromatically grey, communistic Poland, Hungary was like a window to the world. Twenty-odd years later, going through the pages of my family album, I found only one photograph of Lake Balaton. It was a blurry picture of my sister and I, that was taken somewhere on one of the lake’s piers. This snapshot was the only reminiscence of a few subsequent summers spent by the lake. ‘Hungarian Sea’ is my attempt to create what my parents failed to do. I try to see the world through the eyes of a little boy who used to holiday there with his parents and sister over twenty years ago. Strolling among ruins of the glamorous, back in the day, concrete villas of Castro, Brezhnev and Honecker, the memories start to flood back. Balaton has hardly changed, it is almost exactly the same as I left it. Perhaps a bit more rusty, but the atmosphere remains the same. Only now for me it is no longer a paradise. I have grown and changed. The vintage postcards are real, sent by vacationers from Lake Balaton to friends and family back home, lost or let go by their recipients over time. Resurfaced through internet research and hunting through shops in Hungary.