Budapest, Szeretlek

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Budapest is the sort of city that seeps into you slowly and gently. It's so sly in its actions that you barely notice it's happening. It's not overtly glamorous - like Rome, London, or Paris. It doesn't scream out to you when you first step off the airplane 'Look at me! Look how wonderful I am! Love me!' It doesn't beat you over the head with its beauty, or for that matter, even its history.

You can even find yourself, in the bleakest days of winter hating the city. You bundle yourself up and put one foot in front of the other, silently willing months to go by in the speed of days. You begin to believe that blue skies are simply a myth told to get you through. And you even find yourself understanding slightly - no matter how grim that understanding might be - why Budapest has one of the highest suicide rates in all of Europe.

Despite this, even in that monotone, bleak world there are some moments that cause you to pause. The first snowfall which covers the city in a layer of white perfection. The way that same snow lands haphazardly on the lions, the eternal guardians of the Chain Bridge, causes you to smile. And when the sun does shine it's as though the heavens opened up just for you to remind you that yes, good things will come.

And then, just when you think you can't take any more, Spring sneaks up on you. The sun starts to shine, the temperature begins to rise. You start pushing its limits, seeing how few layers you can get away with wearing without having to return inside for another sweater or close-toed shoes. You find yourself conjuring up excuses to go outside and sit in the sun, even if only for a few moments before the wind reminds you that it's not quite warm enough yet. And it's that yet that gives you hope.

It's that yet that makes you realize that this city, this city that is still in the process of rebuilding itself from years of repression, has made its way under your skin. You walk through the same streets you walked through in the darkest days of winter noticing beautiful accents on the architecture of old buildings. You realize that most of the time you know how to get where you want to go without stopping to think about it. You stop to sit on a bench along the banks of the Danube to watch the tourists stumble over themselves to get the whole landscape of Buda into a single picture (a near impossible feat).

You realize that this place - this once seemingly grey, smoggy, cold, and bitter place - is a place you've come to love. And that realization, whether it happens the moment you set foot in a city or the moment you leave it, is what ties your heart to a place forever.


  1. I really liked this, and I feel the same way. It seems like winter lasted a little too long this year, and now I'm glad that the sun and warmer temperatures are coming back!

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  3. Please post more pictures! Your wonderful descriptions are so vivid in my mind and I'd be curious to see more!

  4. I missed this post first time round...I love it! A city does get under your skin in subtle ways. And it stays with you forever.

    Enjoy your break!

  5. I love this post. You wrote it so beautifully. :)


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