budapest, hungary

I had never felt so unsafe until I arrived in Budapest. The bus station was fine, for I made friends on the bus and went with them to their hostel. It happened to be right down the street from the house I would be staying in, but I felt better walking with a group of girls down the unknown roads in the dark. The next few days I explored the city. I walked around a lot on my own, and was startled by the fact that you could find yourself alone on a long road in the middle of the day-although I was not right in the city center. The buildings looked like they were falling apart and many windows were broken.

It wasn’t until I walked inside one of these run down buildings, and into the beautiful apartment of Orsi-my host-that I began to really see Budapest from a different angle. She walks the streets alone at all hours of night-it’s actually an extremely safe city, and the buildings that look unkept and sometimes abandoned, are simply old-like the city. The doors and the buildings go right up to the sidewalk, but once you walk inside an apartment building, you are greeted with a large courtyard. Sometimes green and vegetated, sometimes mostly concrete where people are hanging clothes to dry, but a courtyard which allows the people within the building to see each other and watch what is going on inside. While walking on the sometimes extremely empty roads, I soon noticed that there was constant activity above the streets. From the windows and balconies above the streets of the city, people stirred. I loved this, but getting used to the idea that people could see you even if you thought no one else was on the road was extremely interesting, and a bit reassuring.

My host, Orsi, was much quieter than the last few. She lived alone in a beautiful apartment consisting of a huge bathroom, lovely kitchen, bedroom with two beds and a library, and a main room with closets, a table, and two futons. All the windows were large, and I slept in a bed! I found myself constantly locked out of her house, however, and her wild neighbors would watch me for twenty minutes, attempting to unlock her door, before they would come and try to help-mostly unsuccessfully. This led me back to the depressing hostel I stayed in the first night, until she would come and retrieve me there.

At this hostel I met and spoke with someone who worked at a feedlot in the United States, which was interesting. I had never met anyone, only read books, about these places, so we spoke one evening, and I flipped through his poultry and dairy magazines filled with products to make your animals bigger and advice on how to maintain your “dead bird pit”. When I finally ventured to the city center, or towards it, I was blown away. Every turn you made revealed incredible sights, and the river and bridges were spectacular. I walked all the way up and over to Margrit Island, where everyone goes to jog and relax. I sat and drank tea for a few hours while I caught up with my journal and watched people pass. Orsi was right, the Buda side of the river was very hilly and the Pest side, flat. Orsi took me out to a wonderful vegan restaurant and a few really nice bars which were made from old schools or abandoned buildings. We also cooked a bit, and would sit at her table with dinner and a glass of wine-or breakfast and a cup of coffee, talking before we would either go our own ways or head out the door together.

Invited to a vegetarian dinner, the two of us ventured across a southern bridge to the Pest side where we were greeted by a girl throwing the party. Expecting to be with a group of people our own age, we were thoroughly surprised to find our dinner party made up of a high school girl, her father, and her 52 year old friend. We ate off their china dishes and had a five course meal that was of Indian origin. Interesting evening, to say the least.

I left Budapest at 4 in the morning, taking a bus to the airport tram and the tram to the airport where I was pushed to the very end of a huge mass of people, angry and stressed out, trying to get checked in and onto their flight which was about to leave. After waiting for about an hour, I was sent downstairs, where I was told the news. The news that the airplane ticket which I bought, had somehow morphed into an airport shuttle ticket, instead of boarding a plane to Vienna, I would be boarding a van.

One man drove me to Vienna. I was super upset for a long time, until I laid across the backseat and slept for a few hours. When I awoke, I was surrounded by green fields hosting massive windmills. Looking out the window on my right, the sky was sunny with white billowy clouds, but to the left it truly looked like doomsday. We drove drove drove until we pulled up to the Austrian International Airport and I stood on the curb and waved goodbye.

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June 17, 2010. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.