In which I make another quality song reference.
I loved Budapest. I didn’t expect to feel that way. I guess I didn’t really know what to expect at all, and I don’t even know how to describe what I liked about it. It just had a good vibe. And some really delightful rose gelato right under our hostel, meaning we ate it for both pre-breakfast and dessert and sometimes midday snack. (White chocolate lavender and raspberry were my favourite flavours, in case you care!)
Budapest was good prep for the German Christmas markets we were looking forward to in Berlin the next week. The smell of fried food, sausages, and Kürtőskalács floated through the air, dancing around the lights strung from the rustic wooden market stalls. As Asha and I settled into an empty Starbucks table with our cinnamon Kürtőskalác one night, a wild violinist appeared! He asked where we were from, and when we told him he sighed wistfully, said, “Ah, Canada” and immediately launched into a tune that was neither Canadian nor remotely familiar. I just smiled awkwardly the whole time and avoided direct eye contact with him.
We had a bath with a hundred other people. I’ve never felt cleaner. See above for photos of said people in all of their half-naked glory.
Being mid-November, it was at this point in the trip that I realized I should have packed a real winter coat. A lot of days were planned around ducking in for hot tea or coffee (you know, when we weren’t wolfing down gelato). One day we took refuge in a nearly empty teahouse tucked into a courtyard off the main street of shops filled with postcards, fur hats, and paprika bags. We debated getting a tea from the Guan Dong province in China where our grandparents are from. (We’re totally long-distance cousins, guys. Each day we learn one more fact confirming this, and choose to ignore one hard disproving fact.) Ultimately we settled on a rose tea, sipping leisurely to delay from returning to the biting cold outside. Upon leaving, the storekeeper complimented Asha on her film camera as my iPhone gave its obnoxious fake shutter sound to take a picture of the teas in the wall. Despite this moment of embarrassment, it was one of my favourite moments in Budapest.
We were thoroughly confused as to the assigned title of Buda Castle, because neither Fisherman’s Bastion nor the National Gallery nor Matthias Church is a castle. Then we Wikipedia-ed it.
It had been a whole two months since I’d paid to climb a shit ton of church stairs. (Summer posts still to come!) St. Stephen’s Basilica let me relive all that — though for a considerably lower price, far less people, and nowhere near as many steps (also: the option of an elevator). Budapest glowed through a morning of mist, showing off its multicoloured roofs lined by the shadows that only centuries-old architecture can cast. Modern buildings seem to be all about big windows and sleek angles, but I love the depth the older European structures seem to have.