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Michal Solarski Revisits The ‘Hungarian Sea’

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In the series ‘Hungarian Sea‘, Polish photographer Michal Solarski revisits the Hungarian Lake Balaton to capture the summer paradise from his childhood.

“Balaton has hardly changed, it is almost exactly the same as I left it. Only now for me it is no longer a paradise.”

The largest lake in Central Europe, in the 60s Balaton became the major holiday destination for ordinary Hungarian workers, as well as for the lucky citizens of other countries hidden behind the ‘Iron Curtain’. Not being able to dream of travelling to Spain, Italy or Greece, Solarski’s family could go as far as to Hungary to see what’s out ‘there’. Flipping through his family album twenty years later, the photographer noticed only one image taken during six trips to the ‘Hungarian Sea’. With only one blurry reminiscence from the past, he decided to go back to the lake and see it once again through the eyes of a little boy. As he traveled around the summer resort, the memories, but also conclusions begun 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. I have grown and changed.”

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“We were heading south. It was the most exciting time of the 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.

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Three hundred miles could easly 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.

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Equipped with government-issued food vouchers and a little amount of pocket money in local currency, we were driving to a warm, colorful and pleasant place.

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For us, coming from sad, cold, and almost monochromatically grey Poland, it was like a window to the world. On arrival we found ourselves surrounded by a multitude of smells and colours.

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I would play endlessly on the beach with my sister and my parents. We would swim in the warm waters of the lake. For the next two weeks we would indulge in the holiday spirit until the day we had to make our way back home.”

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All images © Michal Solarski