Nighttime in Budapest
A visit to Budapest in August 2018 was too brief to do the city real justice. Our four days (and nights!) in Budapest went by lickety-split, as we knew they would. Nonetheless, our small but mighty group of four managed to get our arms around the lay of the land pretty darn well.
Together, we drummed up the itinerary for this journey over months of a midwestern USA winter of dreaming and scheming. We filled (ok, jam-packed!) our twelve days in Europe with plans that generated great memories to savor (including a night at the famous Ruin Bars as well as often enjoying the local brews).
One thing that makes Budapest famous are its sequence of beautiful bridges over the Danube. We walked across the famous Chain Bridge our first night. Captivating. Another night, we took an evening ride upstream to Margaret Island and down to Gellert Hill and back to our dock. Stunning.
In fact, night time scenes of Budapest are among my favorites. On both sides of the Danube River are giant, iconic, well-lit buildings. On the Buda side are: the church named for the beloved Renaissance King Matthias alongside the Fisherman’s Bastion; the Royal Palace with its National Gallery, Library and Museum (the royal family doesn’t live there anymore); and, further downstream, Gellért Hill (once covered in vineyards) with its Citadel and Liberty statue. On the Pest side is a spectacular view of the third largest Parliament building in the world (completed in 1904). Further inland, toward the main street of Bajcsy-Zsilinszky is St. Stephen’s Basilica, with a beautiful open square.
Speaking of difficult-to-pronounce place names (!), one fun part about eastern Europe is navigating effectively on one’s own. The functional illiteracy isn’t as complete as when I’m in Asian countries, but an independent traveler has to pack a hefty dose of patience and personal forgiveness when visiting many of these places.
I’ve often seen people pack in too much when planning an overseas trip. It’s normal to try to indulge the desire to see as many places on a wish-list as possible. Eventually, though, we realized our trip would be a lot more fun if we just slowed down. To change locations every day or two is to spend your whole vacation just getting from one place to the next and never landing long enough to savor the experience. Instead, we chose to focus on three cities for four days each. The plan was masterful! The dreams that were left to linger were gently placed on the “next time” list. And off we went.