Budapest – an old man with a young soul.

May 29, 2012 4:45 pm

If I could give any traveller one piece of advice it would be this – give all the obvious destinations a break, Europe has much more than Paris, London or Milan to offer. Having exhausted Paris, I felt it due to spread my wings and find a new corner of Europe to fall in love with. And I fell in love. I fell in love with Budapest. If I could call Budapest anything I would call it the city of equal halves.  What I mean by that is that there is a great sense of balance wherever you look. Let me elaborate. Walking down Budapest’s equivalent to ‘Champs Ellysee’, Andrássy út in Pest, an avenue heavenly for the fashionable city traveler, I found myself standing in the presence of  Szépművészeti Múzeum, the Museum of Fine Art on Hősök tere – the Heroes Square. And I was left speechless. The grandeur with which the architecture stands speaks of nothing but glorification. It is there to make a point. It is there to stop one from forgetting. And whether you sympathise with it or not, you will undeniably feel something or sense that lives were lost.  If you are lucky, to add to the mood, a lonely old violinist plays the classical soundtrack to add to the ‘wow’ factor. Having made my way to the museum I discovered that the museum, or indeed Budapest in its entirety, is like an old man with a young soul.

Amongst all the old things, you will catch glimpses of Budapest’s youth, love and acceptance of the modern and its desire to live.  There is a weaving of period and modern art throughout Budapest. Age is not an issue here. It is also evident in the market square. On one side you will have the pleasure of witnessing traditional Hungarian dancing and on the other you will find the youths of Budapest street dance who spin on their heads like no other.  You will undoubtedly see how Hungry once was, what it is now and what it might be in the future. Yet this sense of balance did not come without a price. One cannot help but notice the faint echoes of wars gone by. On the surrounding buildings there are silent reminders, stab wounds in the form of bullet holes with cracks that bleed on the surface. Hungary has suffered waves of changes, from King Charles IV’s surrender of power in 1918 to World War II and the communist era.  Hungary was left devastated as it saw thousands of its people executed and imprisoned. It is a country that lies deeply within European history. But now Budapest is in a state of ying and yang.  Without its history the city would not be half as interesting as it is now. Budapesthas firmly gripped the past and the future with equal effort. It reminds me of a Jackson Pollock painting.  In its livelihood and chaos, there is a great sense of organised mess.  It all makes sense. Budapest is an artwork in its own right and strangely everything fits together rather perfectly.

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