Someone said: „once a year go some place you have never been before“. So I did. With my brother we visited Budapest. A magnetic city where Celts, Romans, Huns, Germanic tribes, Slavs and at the very end, the Magyars left their marks. What a potpourri of ethnicity… And the traces of all of them are still visible as far as the eye can see.
We landed in a crowded city. In fact, 20% of Hungary’s population lives in Budapest. The well-informed man on the „hopp-on/hoff-off“-bus said so. Yes. He told us that every 5th person in Hungary is a „Budapester“. Oh, and I was truly surprised to find out, that the so-called capital of freedom is two cities in one: Buda, a city on a hill where you can find the Castle and Pest, the flat land across the Danube where all the modern fun takes place.
Okay, I don’t wanna write a Wikipedia-entry, but let’s talk about climate: I would never think, but Budapest is hot. I mean: HOT. Literally. Not only because it has more thermal springs than any other city in the world. It is warm or actually: very, very warm. It has as much summer sunshine as many Mediterranean resorts. But we experienced also one of those sudden heavy showers. OMG! It was raining cats and dogs… But fortunately, we found a shelter at Nagy Vásárcsarnok… No, I cannot pronounce it neither, so for all not-hungarian among us: It is simply the great Market Hall…Budapests big and oldest indoor market who is offering meats, pastries, candies, spices, and spirits such as paprika, tokali and caviar. The second floor has mainly eateries and souvenirs. And a multitude of people. They are everywhere. Not really a place to be for a claustrophobic folk.
What an eclecticism; you can see ancient, (neo) gothic, renaissance and byzantine buildings along its streets. One of my favorite was the Mátyás-templom, the roman catholic church in front of the Fisherman’s Bastion at the heart of Buda’s castle district. I have seldom seen such a magnificent church and a picturesque surrounding area. The other place I fell in love with, was the great synagogue in Dohány street, with the onion domes (yes, onion). We just had to go inside and have a look… What I saw was just „wow“… Internal frescoes made of golden geometric shapes. Men sit on the ground-floor, while the upper gallery, has seats for women. I cannot explain the feeling i had while walking through the Holocaust memorial park who is in the rear courtyard… I was getting a little bit sad. Or maybe I just realized what happened there a couple of decades ago.
How to reach all those wonderful sites, landmarks, utcas, térs and úts? By bus, tram or underground! After London (my Love), Budapest has the oldest underground train system in Europe. So you can easily move around. Yes, because there are more than 40 theaters and over 100 museums and galleries and you can impossible just walk the whole day and night through. It is also in the spotlight for the copious festivals (very famous ones), concerts and events.
What else? Oh, yes… A lot of famous kids were born in Budapest: the statesman Gyula Andrássy, the charming actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, the magic Harry Houdini, the virtuoso pianist Franz Liszt and last but not least, well… the aphrodisiac Ilona Staller! 🙂
Budapest welcomed us with their friendly people, the smell of good food in the air, yelling custodian (I almost suffered a heart attack, just because I was taking a picture inside a museum), kind waiters who never laughed at me because of my funny Hungarian pronunciation (I couldn’t order a „McReggeli“ at McDonalds without a smile) and the amazingness of its history…