All the Best from Budapest!


The Hungarian Parliament. Michelle for scale.

I realize that, with our sparse writing of late, it is probably difficult to tell where we are these days. Well, we have been in Budapest now for a few weeks, and we’ll be here until July. There is still so much to write about in the other cities we’ve been to, so it’s really quite difficult to catch up. On top of that, we visited several more cities along the way.

First, when our friends Jeff and Megan visited us in Prague, we took a long weekend trip to Bratislava and Vienna. I liked both of these cities very much, and I would love to spend much more time in Vienna. It has monumental architecture, and it’s full of history. And I’m not ashamed to say that I loved nerding out in its museums, which are world-class.

Old Town Bratislava

Old Town Bratislava

I was also struck by the fact that Vienna, while only an hour away and on the same currency as Bratislava, had prices that were something like triple what we found in Slovakia. Communism really did a number on Bratislava, but I happen to think that the city core has recovered quite nicely. In fact, I remember looking out at the outskirts of Bratislava as our train from Prague was rolling in and thinking “this city has seen better days.” Then I stopped myself; modern Bratislava is perfectly lovely. The city has actually seen much, much worse days.

John in front of Buda Castle

John in front of Buda Castle

We also made a stop in Krakow on our way to Budapest. For cities so close on the map, though, it’s quite the journey. If you take a train, you’re in for a winding path over the mountains, and all told, it’ll take you 8 hours or so for each leg of Prague-Krakow-Budapest. Thankfully we were able to get private sleeping cars and go overnight. But Krakow – I was thrilled with Krakow. The old city inside Planty (the garden park that follows the path of the old city walls) is just gorgeous, the market square is huge and full of life, the people are very pleasant. I just loved Krakow, and I wish I could have spent more time there. Probably I will in the future, but hearing a Pole describe weather patterns that sounded like they were plucked right from Minnesota, I think I’d aim for springtime.

Michelle in the Fisherman's Bastion

Michelle in the Fisherman’s Bastion

We also made a quick trip up to Oslo, somewhat on a whim, on our second week here. Oslo is mighty expensive, and getting there often is too, but prices magically lowered, and we decided to pull the trigger. When else are we going to be able to go to Oslo? Anyway, if I was struck by the expense in Vienna, I was struck by lightning with the expense in Oslo. We went to a pub one night, and thankfully it was $11 beer night. (Kidding, but not really.) We also saw one of Michelle’s close friends who lives there now, and so were able to have a local take us around the city. It’s a lovely place, and deserves more than I’m writing now, so I’ll have to add that to the list too.

IMG_9010*Anyway, we are now in Budapest, and we are settling in nicely. We are close to the center of the city, near the southwestern tip of the district called Terézváros. It is hard for me to compare our surroundings to other places we’ve been, mostly because it seems unfair for such a unique place. But Budapest is beautiful architecturally, if a bit ragged around the edges. It is like someone crumpled up Paris and laid it out flat again.* I love that it’s a true, lived-in city, and not a museum that calls itself a city.

IMG_9076*So that’s where we are. At this point, we may never catch up on the blog, but hopefully with some consistency you’ll at least know what we’re up to. In the meantime, enjoy some lovely photos of beautiful Budapest.

You can see that it’s quite a picturesque place. I look forward to writing more about it.

*I used that line in a snail-mail letter I sent to someone back home, and I’m quite fond of it. So, dear recipient of said snail mail, take comfort in the fact that you were first.

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