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NYC: Brooklyn

On the 3rd full day in New York, we visited Brooklyn. We began by looking around Borough Park which is where the largest Hasidic Community lives in the whole world. Basically, they’re extremely conservative orthodox Jews. It was actually my mum’s suggestion to go there, and I’m so happy we did. I’ve never seen anything like it, and it was like going 100 years back in time! The men walked around in huge hats, some even fur hats [(kolpik) and it was 35+ degrees celsius!] and the women wore wigs and were dressed in black. All of them wore a little hat and walked around with their prams. At first glance, it seemed like all they do is walk around with their babies! Apparently, their children go to special schools and there are restrictions for driving… well I don’t know much more, but it was very fascinating!

the area looked very run-down

After that we went to the vintage and second-hand store in Park Slope. Everything was very cheap, but I was a little disappointed because they didn’t have as much as I had expected. Next time I’ll try the store in Williamsburg instead. To conclude our mini-Brooklyn visit, we went to Brooklyn Heights and walked on the promenade which boasted a magnificent view over the New York City skyline.

I did end up buying something though!

Iconic Brooklyn Bridge

All pictures are taken by my brother, Erik

All pictures are taken by my brother, Erik.

BudaBest

Yesterday we went into the center of Budapest to celebrate St. Stephen’s day. It’s one of the most important public holidays here and celebrates the foundation of the Hungarian state. Lots of people were out on the streets and took part in the many activities that were on offer. Personally I ‘only’ saw the fireworks with my mum, but my brother was there a couple of hours before to take some great pictures of the air-show. Before the fireworks, we went out for dinner at Pomo d’Oro and talked about the summer and what we’re anticipating for the year ahead. Unfortunately my dad wasn’t with us, but I’ll see him in just a little more than a week.

Although I can’t say I feel any personal connection to Hungary, Budapest will always be one of my favorite cities. The view of the castle and chain bridge always astounds me whenever my mum or dad drive over the bridge to the Buda Side. It really is a special feeling to find a good place by the side of the Danube, along with other crowds of Hungarians around you, and proudly look at the extraordinary 30 minutes of fire-works. (It’s another story that my mum and I were joking about the Hungarian state burning up EU money haha. It really was an outstanding display, but after the 20th minute I felt like …hmmm- maybe they can use this money to step up, something along the lines of their health care for example.) Well I won’t be pessimistic. Budapest is a wonderful city and, it’s with no doubt that, once you’ve lived here for a while: you truly leave a piece of your heart here !

Fingerprint Portrait

I don’t think I ever took pictures of my ‘fingerprint self-portrait.’ I’m not taking art IB, but I still love painting or doing something creating now and then. My only problem is that I take forever to finish something! This is my favorite piece, and I was inspired by Chuck Close. The Metropolitan Museum of Art actually featured some of his artwork, so I could show my parents where I got my idea from. To quickly summarize what I did: I took a photo of myself with high light contrast. Then I pixelated and posterized it. After printing the image, I took a large piece of white cardboard (roughly 100x70cm) and drew the contours of my face. After planning what shade to put where, I evenly rolled out a thin layer of black lino paint onto a metal tray. From there, it was just to keep on ‘dabbing’ in the black paint with my pointy finger (can you even say that?). The most difficult part was to control that I used the same tint and shade in one area of my face.

My inspiration

I’m finally done with my first draft for my extended essay! It’s actually been quite fun writing it, and I’ve learnt a LOT- everything from Hungarian politics 1944-45, to Sweden’s relations with the Soviet Union, to the implications of being a neutral diplomat during WWII. The only slight problem is that I have written 1000 words too many! Well at least I don’t have the opposite problem. I’m very thankfull that I had the chance to meet up with Ágnes Harrach before the summer holiday; she’s translated some of Raoul Wallenberg’s letters to Hungarian and has a keen interest in Raoul Wallenberg who I was researching. Not only did she assure me that I could contact the previous Swedish Ambassador to Hungary if I had any specific questions (he was very involved in finding out the fate of Wallenberg after he was last seen in 1945), she also gave me some rare books that I could borrow. One is the 1st edition of Valdemar Langlet’s Work and Days in Budapest published 1946. Langlet worked for the Swedish Red cross in Budapest at the same time as Wallenberg worked for the Swedish Legation. Another book she gave me to read (What Happened in Budapest) was originally published in 1949 by Lars Berg, Swedish attaché in Budapest and co-worker of Wallenberg. Nevertheless it disappeared a couple of weeks later; probably bought by the Soviets who thought the memoir said too many unpleasant truths about them. Thus, it was re-published in the 1980’s. This time with the title: The Book that Disappeared.

NYC: Galerie LeLong

I found a postcard from the gallery we went to in NYC on the first day; the artist is called Jaume Plensa, and the exhibit was called Anonymous.