“Budapest is a prime site for dreams.”
M. John Harrison, The Course of the Heart
I have two ways of selecting a cab driver in Europe-
1. Best looking
2. Anyone that looks similar to my dad, so that I feel safe.
I leave arrivals and I am immediately approached by someone I’d probably speak to at a bar.
“Taxi Miss?” he asks while I make my way through the glass doors.
“Maybe…” I look ahead and around for any other options.
I know nothing about anything so in advance I’ve screen shot the address of my apartment and I show the man who looks like someone I met at Marquee Sydney a few years ago.
“I was told I am not supposed to pay more than 25.”
He laughs and tells me I am a good business woman.
Obviously I’m not because if I were, I would have given a more beneficial figure to haggle with.
He offers to handle my bags and I refuse being the woman of the world that I am until we reach the stairs and I realise that I need to be a princess for two minutes. I have my princess moment and he makes a call to a friend and tells me to wait for the car right here. Scenes from Taken flash right before my eyes and suddenly I’m wondering what my value would be on the Black Market being half Croatian, half Hungarian with an Australian passport.
My concerns were useless as I arrived safely but none the less in Budapest, try and organise a driver and always negotiate the price before sitting in a taxi. A trip from the airport to city should not cost more than 25 Euros, ever.
So being Hungarian gave me an upper hand on the basics, not that these basics would get me far. Good morning, “jó reggelt,” good evening, “jó estét,” how are you, “hogy vagy” and my favourite, “nem tudom, a magyar,” which translates into, “I don’t speak Hungarian.”
I’ll admit, I had no expectations of Budapest. I knew it was a beautiful city but that beauty took my breath away in real life. I decided to do a walking tour and the one closest to my apartment was Free walking Tours Budapest. Nothing beats a nice long walk and chat with locals who are passionate about their city. One thing I noticed and this is brought up by someone else during our walk around this beautiful city, is that Hungarian people are very proud of their country. They enjoy a good boast from Nobel Prize winners and inventors to famous actors in Hollywood.
The walk takes us over The Chain Bridge and over to the “posh” side of town where we are given a clear view of the Pest side beside Buda Castle. To my luck, it’s foggy and the pictures I take are as good as they will get.
I have a couple hours to kill before my next tour so I take a stroll up Andrássy Avenue, The Regent Street of Budapest and stop by the House of Terror. I prepare myself mentally for an hour of mood altering depression into the country’s war torn past. No camera’s are allowed so I honour their wishes.
Three thirty marks the beginning of my Jewish walking tour and I immediately befriend the cute tour guide, or he befriends me. We walk towards what is known as the Jewish neighbourhood, home to three Synagogues and a tight Orthodox Jewish Community.
In front of Dohány Street Synagogue, we are told that it’s the second largest in the world and barely survived the war because the Nazis kept it as their watchtower and home base. The walk not only takes us through some prominent Jewish buildings, restaurants and historical landmarks, we are shown the hotspots of where to eat, drink and play. Our walk ends at Szimpla, one of the famous Ruinpubs in Budapest.
Considering I wasn’t expecting anything out of Budapest but a mini break from my mini break in Berlin, I fell in love with a city so proud and rich in culture, history and architecture. I will be back on a sunny day with a girlfriend.
I still brag about Budapest every single day to at least one person I meet and I’ve never heard anyone say a bad word about the breath taking city. Have you been? What were your thoughts?