The more I see of Budapest, the more I like this majestic city. It keeps reminding me of Vienna with its royal castles and beautifully winding streets. even if unlike Vienna, most of the city could use a fresh coat of paint. They are getting there, but I’m also beginning to wonder whether the somewhat worn-down look is what gives the city its unquestionable charm. You could spend a lifetime staring at the building facades, even if more-often-than-not you’ll have to look up beyond the first floor, which was generally reserved for commercial ventures.
But what makes this city great on my book is that the lively energy manifested by its people seems to live side-by-side with an obvious desire to enjoy life along the way. In Budapest, people are up and about at all hours of the day and night. Granted that many of them are tourists, but at the restaurants and bars within the city, the eclectic Hungarian language reins supreme. How different this is to the center of Washington, DC at night, where you can hear a pin drop at 9:00 PM. In Budapest, all along the famous Andrássy Avenue leading to Hero’s Square (with its two art galleries on opposite sides of the Square) the city is a constant beehive of activity. Along the picturesque Danube promenade on the Pest side, restaurant boats and a slew of land-based restaurants with violin music constantly adorning the nights appear to be major hangout for tourists and all sorts of (how should I say this?) evening activities. A few blocks from the promenade, Budapest’s busiest commercial/pedestrian boulevard (Váci ut.) is even more crowded with tourists trying use up all their forints before heading back home. No question that with its excellent mass transportation system and many pedestrian-only streets, this city almost begs you to get up and get moving. In fact, after a few days in the city I have yet to see a single obese person anywhere. Looking at what people eat around here, though, I can only attribute this to a miracle. I can only hope that I am similarly blessed with “thinness” during my stay.