Budapest was great. So much of what defines your experience in a place depends on what sort of crowd you fall in with there. I think my grandparents will agree with that statement, having met up and eaten dinner in Paris with a friend that they made while traveling in South Africa and hearing about their South African experience from her persepective. I, too, have been lucky enough to make friends while traveling through central Europe with whom I will certainly stay in touch and who enabled me to better enjoy my travels. First of all, there were the Scottish fellas, who stayed at the same hostel as me in three different cities at the same time as me completely by chance. They informed me that if I’m ever in Glasgow that I would be a welcome guest. Also there was the group of Canadians from Saskatchewan who have been traveling around Greece, Turkey, and the Aegean islands and who have told me that they would be happy to have me if ever I found myself in Regina or Saskatoon. (It should be mentioned here that the girls of the group were (not unjustly) very proud of their hard-earned thin and brown figures and of consequently being taken for locals in these places where a typical Canadian pallor would blind the locals eyes more than the relentless sun that habitually glints off the cerulean sea.)
The hot temperatures and unshielded sun continued to deepen my tan as I explored the Art Nouveau architecture and the impressive Andrassy utca (Budapest’s expensive, Champs-Elysées-style boulevard) of the Pest (pronounced “pesht”) side of the Danube and the hills, the monuments, the castle, the old palace, and the beautiful views of the Buda side of the river. Buda and Pest existed as two separate cities until a bridge was constructed unifying the two in 1873. That both cities should have existed side by side for so long with no connecting bridge absolutely blew my mind, but finally and thankfully they figured it out.
Another cultural experience in Budapest was visiting a museum that occupies the building where communist police kept the population under close surveillance and where they imprisoned the most threatening trouble makers in damp, narrow cells that are still open in order to inspire communist terror in the imaginations of the museum’s visitors.
It was a nice conclusion to an excellent trip and I will cherish fond memories of the entire time I spent backpacking to the capitals of Central Europe, not least those of the people I met along the way.
Now, with just a couple days left kn France, the entire adventure is drawing to close. It has been a good one. I think I’ve learned a lot, but if I haven’t at least I’ve seen a lot. I’m eagerly looking forward to my return home.