Budapest is a city of contrast. Divided by the Danube River,Buda is the West Bank and Pest, the East. Originally begun as a Celtic Settlement, it has endured many historical, cultural,ethnic and religious upheavals to become one of Eastern Europe’s most beautiful and enduring cities, and certainly one of its most interesting.
Where else can you buy $2.50 tickets to the Ballet Giselle at the Budapest Opera House? of course the 22 year old daughter and I had to enter via the back stairs, so the patrons in expensive seats could be seen making a grand entrance, via the front stairs! A night time ghost walk around the cobbled streets, revealed a bloody and gory past, buried beneath the grandeur and opulence, of old Budapest.
Taking a commuter ferry ride down the mighty Danube, revealed the olympic training school of the Hungarian rowing team, a mix of old and new high rise housing, and ended at a defunct shipbuilding yard, and abandoned, industrial estate.
A favourite memory was shopping at the local flea markets. Most had good quality goods, and were keenly priced. One, in a far flung suburb, revealed old folk art pattern rubber rollers, genuine nazi war badges, vintage tin toys, and a jumble of retro clothing. It was cheap, musty, and housed some dilapidated merchandise, but was worth the complex trip out of town to get to it.
Other memories include, walking across the Liberty Bridge spanning the mighty Danube, using the funicular ( cliff railway) running up to Buda Castle, visiting the Budapest Art Museum, and feeling chagrin when the student daughter was invited to a private viewing of Warhol pieces. Watching the same daughter get her hair cut for her 22nd birthday. Me agreeing to a haircut by a non english speaking hairdresser, at the same salon. Drinking vast quantities of home made limonetta ( lemonade) for $3 a litre in local restaurants, and visiting Margaret island, to ride bikes, and eat ice cream and fairyfloss, as part of the birthday celebrations. Friday night saw us floating around the Rudas Baths, a thermal hot springs with magical restorative powers, needed for two world weary travellers, and trying to avoid gazing at the plump male, tattooed, ponytailed, patrons.