After currency exchange is accomplished, chaos ensues – that kind of disorientation that every Sagittarius sun sign experiences via their favorite pastime and hobby – the culture shock of travel. This is not a completely voluntary phenomenon. Sagittarius often travels because they feel like they were born of a different age, era or tribe. It’s the sense of being a stranger in a strange land that compels them to wander the globe to find their people or place. Many find their true tribe far away from home. Others find solace in a religious group, counter culture or politic. Looking around me in the train station, I wonder how many people who live in Hungary are immigrants, and how many Hungarians have emigrated, left their own home for a safer, saner life.

How different this country is from the beautiful, civilized city of Vienna only a brief train ride away. My romantic notions of grandeur were fading. What happened to the grand promise of this city, once favored by Austrian Prince Franz Joseph as “the next Vienna?” Just like a person, to know a country’s history is to know its character. Late 19th- early 20th century Budapest was grand – accepting immigrants from Poland and Russia with promise of legal equality and a better life. Urban development boomed and Budapest became the hub of a railway system, joining lands and welcoming minorities. But diversity would be its downfall, as the Prime Minister declared only Hungarian would be taught in all the schools so only those who could speak Hungarian would ultimately thrive here. WWII ethno-centrism was just beginning to rear its ugly head. During the brief “golden years” that followed, Pest especially became a spot for art and literature as cafes bustled with bohemian thinkers. Hungarian food, (goulash, which is in fact amazingly tasty!), became the fad for worldly “foodies.” But golden years ended at WWII’s arrival. After the Russians destroyed what was left of the Hungarian army, they occupied Pest while the Germans took opposite camp at Buda Castle. Any Hungarians who could escape fled; for those remaining, the bloodshed was medieval. When the Germans surrendered in 1945, there was nothing left standing – all bridges crossing the Danube had been destroyed.

But this isn’t the end of the freedom fight. Hungary’s Sagittarian hunger for political independence was still going strong. The Hungarian revolution against the Communist regime in the 1950’s was possibly the saddest time in Hungarian history. After suffering years of communist corruption, violence and repression Hungary wanted the old Hungary back. A student uprising in 1956 resulted in 5 days of celebratory freedom – a 33 year long teaser. While the rest of the world was distracted by the Suez Canal crisis, Moscow sent down their troops, attacked civilians. Without an army, civilians became soldiers, throwing Molotov cocktails under Russian tanks. Again, where was the rest of the world? This country, this city of Budapest seemed to be eternally under siege – friendless, freedomless, ultimately strangers in their own land.