A week ago I walked to the Danube just to retake a photo that I couldn’t find. I walked past an iconic place called Bambi Presszó. It’s an old-style bar and café—socialist old style, that is. It opened in 1961, offering drinks and coffee and a simple fare of sandwiches and sausages. It’s more or less a crossover between a bar and a café, called a ‘presszó’, indicating a unit that sells espresso. Those were precious and special fifty years ago.
It’s one of those rare places that are still around and that—almost—haven’t changed a bit over the decade. If you sit at a table on their terrace, you actually ride a time machine. I don’t even know if they have Wi-Fi, or if they accept credit cards. You simply don’t look for those things there.
Bambi was also the name of a fizzy non-alcoholic drink** popular over here at the time—I mean, in the 1960s. It was fully synthetic, and featured 12% of added sugar, way above any Coca-Cola or Pepsi product back then. I never drank it, though, they ceased to manufacture it a year before I was born.
Anyway, Bambi the café is a favorite with some of us: it has seen quite a few occasions of development roadmap planning (back when it was still up to the founders of my company). Some of us still meet there once or twice a year.
Last week, when I walked there, I was greeted by this sight:
It was closed, in full compliance with lockdown regulations. But today, some of the lockdown was lifted, and places with terraces are allowed to open again. They still aren’t allowed to invite people inside; they can serve guests on the terrace only.
I walked past Bambi again today: it was open. They even had some empty tables. I didn’t stop there because I like going there with someone. I simply can’t imagine myself sitting there with a laptop or a phone—it’s a place for actually talking to people. But the mental note was made and I plan to go there sometime soon. The terrace is spacious and the tables are laid out at considerable distance; there should be no problem keeping up the physical distance that we still need to avoid infection.
So, the lockdown is easing in Budapest, as is in many other places in the world. But my mind is still not at ease: I am still wary to go inside anywhere where there are a lot of people, and I’m still wary of taking a bus or a tram. Even if the trams in my city are as attractive as they are (for the most part). I will still work from home save for one day a week maybe; I will still keep my distance of 2 meters or more; and I will still wear a mask when I need to go inside somewhere that isn’t my home.
Despite all this, today felt freer than all those nine weeks before. I celebrated this by taking a longer walk, extending my range just a bit. What I’m looking forward to is meeting someone (who’s not immediate family) in Bambi or on the Danube bank, and have a nice chat, still keeping the distance of course.
* Not the deer.
** Not the alcoholic cocktail: http://www.spiritdrinks.com/cocktails/Bambi.aspx