One of the questions I am always asked when I meet new people or old friends I haven’t seen for a long time, is why do I like Budapest, in Hungary so much? I must admit it; I feel completely confused in front of this question. How can I describe this feeling of being happy, of being whole, this feeling of belonging here?
So I thought it over, and little bit by little bit the picture became clearer in my mind and this is why I love this city. But don’t get me wrong; it is not an exhaustive list! And also, it is my point of view.
Budapest, The town of Freedom?
Let’s start with the most difficult part! I love Budapest, more precisely I am in love with Budapest because I feel free here. Easy to say, not easy to explain though.
This sensation of freedom comes from the fact that many things are possible around here (even though it is not a perfect world, don’t misunderstand me, this is just how I feel about it). From doing art project by dancing with clothes – for learning more about that check the Grey Box Project led by Anna Ádám and Sally O’Neill – to swimming in the great Danube (not everywhere though because of the strong stream in the inner city), it is always possible to find a suitable match according to what you are looking for.
Also, Budapest is much less restrictive for me than where I come from. Waiters won’t push you to consume, you can bring your own food in many bars, there is no dress-code in most of the places I go. In a way, you can just be yourself in Budapest.
Eventually, this idea of freedom comes from all the great people I have met here, who are doing amazing, creative things and are so happy to tell you more about it and to make you part of their projects.
On my way back home
On of my favorite moment in Budapest, is when I come back home biking from the area called Római-part. It is located after Óbudai sziget, along the Danube on Buda shore. On your way back to downtown the river is making a turn, therefore comes one specific moment where you discover the whole panorama of Budapest. It is even more beautiful at night, the famous buildings are all nicely lit up. On your left, you will find the magnificent parliament, on your right the fisherman’s bastion, Mátyás church and the castle. This view is completely breathtaking. Even though I have seen it several times, I still feel lucky every time I have the chance to contemplate this amazing landscape, to be there.
More generally, Budapest is a beautiful city which hide its architectural jewelry. Do not hesitate to get lost in the city with your eyes up, being ready to discover an astonishing building in the middle of pretty destroyed ones or in a grey neighborhood.
A city outside the city
Budapest is huge. If you come for a few days, I think you won’t have time to go to the edge of the city and to realize that there are actually forests inside the city. Even without going to the edge, you can easily get lost in Margit sziget or in Városliget. People go there at weekends to celebrate birthdays, at mornings to run and in the evening to do some yoga – or the other way around. These two parks are easily reachable by public transportation but once you walk a few hundred meters, you forget that you are in the middle of the city. Unlike many other European capital in which you will have to travel more than an hour to be able to feel in the nature, Budapest is a city outside the city.
When I think about going outside, I think about outside sports. This is also an amazing thing to do in Budapest: you can go kayaking in the Danube from Margit Sziget, Romai part or Kopaszi gát, great people are organizing free events on Margit sziget such as ultimate games on Sundays (check the group Outdoor Get Together – Margitsziget, to know more about it). You can go hiking in the hills and you can even initiate yourself to paragliding in Hámarshatár hegy. For more information about paragliding, you can contact the association Cloudbase. Everything is possible to make your forget that you are in the heart of an European capital city.
Let’s rock that party!
Oh yeah ! It is gonna be as good as what you heard. No, wait! You know what? Partying in Budapest is going to be even better than what people told you.
First of all, you can find something for everyone’s taste: from traditional Hungarian dances to crazy open-air night clubs. Then, you will get caught in something that was not planned…AT ALL. Finishing your night looking at a contemporary art exhibition at Müszi, or finding Chartreuse at Kisüzem (crazy hard to find Chartreuse these days), or even ending up in a Goa party after having seen a Korean hard-rock band on stage. To make a long story short; be ready for anything. Finally, you are going to meet great people from all over the world, with some of them you will just share a drink and the famous “egészségedre” (“Cheers!” in Hungarian), and others will become your friends for life.
Don’t get used to anything, it is gonna change anyway
I am the kind of person who likes to be surprised.
In that way, Budapest is perfect for me. The city is a fantastic incarnation of the sentence in The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi: “For things to remain the same, everything must change“. You can walk in the same street everyday and still have things to discover in there: the graffiti are renewed frequently, one coffee shop will open while a bar or a shop is closing.
Even in very famous places such as Szimpla kert, where you have been a dozen of times after having spent a few months in this city, you will keep on being amazed every time. The swinging garden gnome you discover one Sunday morning, the crazy moving machine after too many beers, the pint garland you want for your garden and many things more.
And it is not only that places are changing, converted for new purposes, each place is like a living organism in itself in which cells will develop, multiply or die. You can be surprised or disappointed, but in any case, you won’t find what you have seen before.