Hello there, fine people of the internet!
If you read my last post (like 3 weeks ago, sorry for that!), you probably know that I fell in love with Bratislava, wrote a love letter for her, and still didn’t get an answer (Ouch I know). And while wandering in my own head (again) looking for the reasons why I loved her so much I realized it was because I wasn’t expecting it to happen (if this makes sense…), but also because I went there coming from one of the most beautiful cities in central Europe, the Danube pearl: Budapest.
Lately, I’ve been having this idea; that I knew quite a bit of what all Central/eastern Europe capitals would look like. I mean, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert by any means, but I thought I knew a thing or two. After all, I’ve been to few of them and I’ve been reading a lot about this part of Europe (I also watched like 15 minutes from “The Grand Budapest Hotel” but that does not count). Well once again, I’ve been proven wrong (happens a lot lately by the way), because Budapest is not as “eastern-europy” as I expected it to be, and you’re going to know why in this post. So this time I’m choosing to share with you the things I absolutely loved in Budapest and few things I didn’t like that much as well. But let’s start with the good news first:
- I loved how beautiful the city is: The architecture, the colors, the riverfront, everything! I know I always rave about how all the places I go to are beautiful, but just keep up with me on this one. Budapest was “different” beautiful, it felt like a grittier, more humble beauty than other places. For me the obvious comparison was Prague where I spent a week last June and which I totally loved, but when you compare both cities, Prague felt more like a theme park, It was jam-packed with tourists in so many spots, and I found it difficult to connect with the “real” Prague, even if I try to walk into the deepest forgotten streets. Budapest is beautiful, but its beauty felt more untapped, more real, more undiscovered (let’s be honest though, it’s not like Budapest is some obscure, off-the-map city).
- I loved how big and expansive, the city felt. Grand boulevards and huge buildings everywhere, but the space never felt impersonal or overwhelming. Rather, Budapest felt “big” to me in the sense that it was dynamic, lively, and contained so many possibilities to fill your days with; simply wandering in the city streets during the day, a whole afternoon spent making nice discoveries in a vintage store on Andrassy Street, or a wonderful night walk on the Danube Bank …
- I loved the people. As with everything else about the city, I had my own expectations on the residents of Budapest (comparing them with the Czech once again). But turns out that when it comes to Hungarians , you can’t come up with a ready-made stereotype as with other countries (you know: animated Italians, snobbish French, cold Brits…), none of which I believe to be accurate, by the way… (Okay, maybe the Italian one is). If you ask me how were the people like in Budapest, I would say that every single one I encountered was warm, friendly and helpful, which I loved!
- I loved the views: Every spot was a good vantage point in Budapest, whether walking along the Danube, crossing the many bridges, or on the top of Saint Stephen Basilica or Castle Hill. And it was in that last location, standing on the top and looking down at the city, that something clicked for me. I just stood there, looking out at Budapest, the river, the buildings, the snow, and I just felt happy. It was one of those moments you get sometimes when you travel (well for me it’s more like ALL the time), one of those times when, as cheesy as it may sound coming from me, the world feels kind of magical.
Now there are couple of things I didn’t like that much while visiting Budapest. First of all, It’s not as “Eastern-European” cheap as I expected it to be, It’s not Vienna expensive (thank god!) but It’s getting close, so you might want to put that in mind before going there. 2nd thing I didn’t like, was my lack of Hungarian (Okay, Budapest has nothing to do with this one), it does not mean that they don’t speak English because they do, but thing is you’re not going to be able to read signs or boards, not even the metro map because Hungarian is a whole language by itself, It doesn’t look like any Latin-based language (French, German, Italian,..), so it might be a bit difficult to find out your way for example, but then you can ask people and they’re more than happy to help.
Well, nothing is perfect, and the beauty of Budapest is not perfect either; it was mingled with a fair amount of graffiti and crumbling Soviet-era facades in some neighborhoods, but in a way though, that contrast made me love the city even more.
Cheers to the places we yet have to go to!