a little background
It's been a little under a week since we landed in Budapest. The jet lag from the time change is finally starting to leave our systems. 6 hours time difference doesn't seem too bad now. :)
Where to begin with Budapest though..... It's almost too much to explain between it's history, art, architecture and food. (Yes, food. It's not all goulash here! Besides, real Hungarian goulash is actually quite good!) This is why travel books exists I suppose. But there truly is a reason they call Budapest the "Paris of Eastern Europe," although it's quite untapped compared to it's French counterpart. We haven't been overrun by tourists, yet!
Europeans take pride in how things are built, how things are crafted, and in turn perceived by the cultures outside of their own. When your history extends from 896 AD, with marked periods of huge wealth and power, it would make sense to build a city to show off that enormous wealth. Right? In fact, when the Hungarians had a contest for the Parliament design marking their thousands years of rule, they built the winner (obviously!), but they had enough funding to build the 2nd and 3rd place designs right across from Parliament. Both of those designs are gorgeous in their own right. All building constructions were also publicly funded around 1896 with the Parliament building costing roughly $1 billion (at the time)...so just pause a moment and imagine that amount...then add funding for 2 other buildings. Impressive.
So...everything (and I mean it) is built for beauty and aesthetics, especially in center city. I heard it described as such: "if there could be such a thing as architecture porn, this would be the city." Everywhere you turn, no matter a back alley or main boulevard, it's guaranteed your jaw will drop at the pockets of beautiful details you'll find. It was difficult for me to select something to do a quick paint study of because this city is an FAO Schwarz of architecture.
where we live
The ruinous, derelict nature of so many of these buildings is actually quite beautiful and adds to the charm. I remember first arriving here very late at night and passing judgement too quickly when seeing graffiti tagged on the sides of our apartment. Shame on me. The exterior of so many buildings could be seen as seedy until you pass the threshold. Once inside...prepare for that jaw to drop when you find worn pastel paints peeling off the walls, and crumbles of giant concrete columns along the walkway. I suppose it's sad to think these buildings have been neglected...but it's also (somehow) nostalgic...as if time stopped moving here after World War II. Am I now in 1945?
Amazingly, we made one of the best random selections to start of this trip. We're in an apartment in the 7th District, which is one of the more culturally interesting locations situated in the Jewish Quarter of the inner city and just next to the Gozsdu Udvar (udvar = courtyard). (Phonetically you'd say "Goosh-do Uuud-var")
The courtyards of the surrounding buildings collectively gave up their alley space, so about 2-ish (probably more) blocks of the Gozsdu interior are lined with restaurant, after pub, after restaurant. Music is blaring everywhere and people are awake until 3 and 4am. (I know. 4am on a work night??!) Everyone is speaking in their own languages, but when you add alcohol, language becomes fluid. Suddenly you can understand Hungarian perfectly. Gozsdu is truly filled with all ages at all times of day and it's awesome being so close to this much activity.
I feel Hungarian, or at least a part of the action in some small way. Never mind speaking Hungarian though...it's not something you learn back in high school. I might need to get to that in another post. We're off to walk the city though.
Until next time...Cheers!