THE TRAVELOGUE @ THE TRAVEL ROOM
Hello Budapest, my old friend!
Posted on Tuesday 20th March 2012
One of the joys of travelling is that some places become like old friends and no matter how many times you see them, you are always happy to have their company. To us Budapest is one of those places. Having spent nearly a month in the city over the last decade leaves you with less new things to see, but gives you the opportunity to search for the minutiae within a city, those things that the regular tourist or traveller may overlook due to a lack of time.
Budapest is beautiful, a mix of the old and very old, the city has been influenced by both the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian periods of its history to the point of being a real melting point of east meets west. Look at any menu and you will see what I mean.
Today's Budapest though has been shaped by what happened throughout WW2 and the following communist occupation. 1956 is a year that is famous within my family as it was the first time my father visited Australia, primarily for the Melbourne Olympics, fell in love with the place and declared he would one day live there. In Hungary it is famous for an uprising of the citizens against their Russian oppressors, an uprising that was brutally put down after what the Maygars like to call their period of independence; when democracy, by the people, for the people, actually existed for a few days.
But we also like Budapest for its array of bars, restaurants and very European cafe culture. Thanks to this love of food and drink we met an eclectic mix of people whilst in Budapest (actually two separate places, made as one over time, for reference Buda is the Castle side and Pest is the newer bit on the east bank of the Danube); ranging from an almost bourgeois Hungarian student bemoaning the fact that one day soon he would have to commence work, whilst expousing the proletarian line of all for one and one for all (made famous by the 3 musketeers). Never seeing any irony when explaining that his parents had paid for his life so far, to the semi-pro Canadian hockey player who was only in town because his team had lost the playoffs in Sweden. His Swedish girlfriend, Canadian mother (who had come all the way to watch him play) and her travel companion had searched for the cheapest flight they could get on short notice and lo and behold...Hello Budapest.
The sun sets on Matthias Church in Budapest
We now firmly blame them for the 2 extra days we had to spend in Budapest to recover from the hangover caused when good conversation mixed with beer takes you to within touching distance of the sun rising.
Still, we know the 9-5 rat race well, and as I observed once, even the people who win the rat race are still rats. Give me a Budapest hangover every day of the week.
The beautiful Fisherman's Bastion in Buda
The view of Pest from Fisherman's Bastion in Buda
Old Communist statue now retired to the Budapest Statue Park
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