Revisiting The City of Sopron

Revisiting the City of Sopron

The city of Sopron had beckoned me to return for a visit. It plays a vital part in my novel, but my mental pictures of it had waned, or were full of inaccuracies.

Being close to Christmas and the New Year, my husband flew from the United States to Budapest to join me for the holiday. In Budapest, we enjoyed mingling in the festivities, dazzled by the lights while we sipped mulled wine and tasted pastries and roasted chestnuts from the street vendors. The next day, we rented a car and sped along the autobahn to Sopron, in the cultural part of Western Hungary. As we looked for a parking spot, I discovered that Sopron had many churches and statues of famous people. How could I have been so ill-prepared to think I would find the past I remembered? Sopron wasn’t a small town. It was a vibrant, bustling city, filled with tourists, and its many excavations of antiquities lay as reminders that this was once a province of the Roman Empire. I wondered how my memories of fifty years ago, memories through the eyes and thoughts of a child, could have been so naïve.

We treaded carefully along the cobbled streets—and a visceral reaction overcame me. I had lost a slice of time from my past. Was it my identity, my innocence, my roots? I felt that these had once belonged to me but now I had sadly misplaced them.Sopron had always taunted me. It was here, in November 1956, that my family found a safe house after we left Budaörs. From here, we fled to Vienna. From here, thousands of families like my own were ripped to pieces. I realized that what I was seeking were these pieces, these snippets, these landmarks. But there was nothing. And yet I recalled a late afternoon when we faced a distant horizon, with fog and drifting snow. That was when we escaped from Sopron, never to return to Hungary.

About Sheila Bali

Sheila Bali, historical fiction writer, is soon to complete her novel, Swans and Cranes, based on a family’s escape from the iron grip of post–WW II Russia during the turbulent 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The book focuses on a young girl’s experiences as her family’s world is uprooted, forcing them to flee their home and country to save their lives. Sheila holds a Fine Arts Degree from Concordia University, plus two graduate degrees from McGill University in art education and special education. She now lives in San Francisco Bay Area of California and paints with colorful words. Sheila is a member of CWC Tri-Valley Branch.
This entry was posted in Stories of my trips to Hungary and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Revisiting The City of Sopron

  1. Can’t wait to read more about Sopron. It sounds so mysterious. The contrast between the past and present must be overwhelming. Give us more!

  2. MG WELLS says:

    Touching story, Sheila. So looking forward to your book. May the MUSE be with you…Always…MG

  3. Kim Jorgensen Gane says:

    You write beautifully. Your memories as a child sound like those of someone who recalls them through a youthful veil of relief. Not naive, but perhaps protected by loving family members who wanted to leave some joy in a child’s otherwise frightening life. Lovely.

  4. Arlene R. O'Neil says:

    Sounds so intriguing!!

  5. David says:

    Having lived in Ukraine in the early nineties, I find your description of Sopron riveting. I once drove through Hungary between Austria and Ukraine. I remember it being beautifully colorful in comparison with the East. Thank you, I’ll look forward to more.

    • ragsdaniels says:

      Thank you for directing me to your blog, Sheila, via your Twitter reply. Having grown up here in England with many Hungarians, after they fled during the uprising, It was interesting to learn about part of your country I had never heard of.
      Rags Daniels

  6. jmbray says:

    Thanks for the touching blog. I’ve been to Hungary twice. Beautiful people there and interesting history.

  7. Kate Papas says:

    I liked your story and the way you describe everything in it: surroundings, memories, feelings…I bet you’re a very good writer. My best wishes for you and for whatever you write!

  8. Paul Featherstone says:

    An interesting and engaging article of how things can change, over time. It sounds like you had a tough childhood Sheila, and it must have been overwhelming to revisit the place, after all that time, to find how much it has changed. I guess it is like what they say. ‘Time moves on’. You have a great skills with your writing for detail.

  9. Sheila Dalton says:

    Looks like a fascinating place!

  10. Julia Rose Grey says:

    What a beautiful story with a range of emotions. There were girls in my school whose families escaped from Budapest in 1956. I remember being so intrigued by their courage and how mature they seemed to be, how deep their concern for others. Its a part of the world I’ve often wanted to visit. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Sheila.

  11. J. Perry Kelly says:

    The Sopron you recall lives on in your written words and in the fabric of all you’ve become.

  12. Lyn Pickering. says:

    Thank you Sheila. I can relate in some degree to the haunting memories of your past that must somehow be recaptured and set down for posterity. My own memories are of Lebanon ( but during a happy time of my youth. Scars of the conflicts that have taken place since would, I’m sure, have changed the country dramatically.

  13. Lyn Pickering. says:

    Lyn Pickering. Thank you Sheila. I can relate somewhat to the haunting memories of your past that must somehow be recaptured and set down for posterity. My own memories are of Lebanon ( but during a happy time of my youth. Scars of the conflicts that have taken place since would, I’m sure, have changed the country dramatically.

  14. Alexander Trapp says:

    Awesome travel entry. Probably would never have known about this place if you hadn’t of told me about it. Sounds lovely!

  15. Ish Amitoj Kaur says:

    What a juxtaposed visual of what is and what was! You took us to both the worlds at one time. What a universal emotion expressed very beautifully.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *