After finishing my 6 six week program in Madrid (wow, those weeks flew by), rather than doing the typical touristy things and traveling to common cliche Western European cities, I decided to take a road less traveled and head out towards Eastern Europe to the great land of Budapest, Hungary.
I had visited my brother, Mark, in Ukraine last summer, and spurned from the aestheticism of Ukrainian culture, historical architecture, and the people, I was yearning for another taste. The first thing that struck me was the currency, the forint. 290 forints is equal to 1 euro, so when you´d go to pay the bill would be in the thousands. Another thing I noticed was the avid display of red, white, and green stripped flags. I was so confused as to what Budapest´s obsession with Italy was. Were there really that many immigrants from Italy here, I thought? I realized later that it was the same colors and the same pattern, but only turned horizontal.
The city was adorned with grandiose structures and memorials in commemoration for past battles and fallen heroes. It was this aspect, more than anything else, that reminded me of Ukraine. Fortunately, one of the guys in my Madrid program had a Hungarian girl study abroad at his high school. She was able to show us around and give us some tidbits on what to see. I met a lot of her friends, and some Switz guys and a bar we went to. Quite possibly my favorite aspect of these European trips thus far is the diversity of cultural backgrounds of the people you meet.
The last day, we went to the Buda side of the city. There actually used to be two cities: Buda and Pest. They were combined, however, with a historical bridge linking the two sides together. The Buda side reminded me of a more historical version of Cincinnati. It was very hilly, and had incredible views casting over the city. The main difference being their buildings were centuries old, where as Cincinnati is lined with recent skyscrapers.
We sat and had some drinks at a nice place with an incredible view. There was a group playing classical view while we sat and savored the moment. A random lady passing by started singing to accompany the string quartet. She had a beautiful voice, and it carried over the small town for all to come and listen. It was one of the most picturesque scenes I could have imagined; I didn’t want it to end. Part of me still feels like I am still back seating on the same seat. There is not a doubt in my mind that I will be back again someday.