Saturday, 29 May 2010

Two days in Budapest

My father once told me that Budapest reminds him of what Vienna used to be like when he was young. Not as polished as it is today. I can't say I agree completely, mostly because Budapest's centre seemed far more polished than any part of Vienna, the buildings grand and not as old. This is of course silly, because both cities were reconstructed in the 19th century and historicism has made a visual impact on both. Most of the time it felt like walking through a part of Vienna I hadn't know before. A strange feeling, really. The one thing that was completely different was the amount of sculptures. So many of them! At every corner, looming over the city on the hills, celebrating artists, writers, political activists. Turul, the bird in the first picture, was everywhere. I'd like to go back when the city isn't on holidays, when people are heading to work and the streets are busy not with tourists, but with regular people. Walking empty streets, only meeting the occasional German or American family is too much like being in a museum.
On the train back to Vienna we sat next to an American family. The wife read aloud from a tourist guide about Eastern Europe which was strange enough. (One guide for all of Eastern Europe? How is that even possible?) She told her family bits about Vienna which was the moment I swore to myself that I'd never, EVER write a travel guide. (Interesting that Vienna is a part of Eastern Europe, too. I do like discussions about geography vs history.) "Have you ever heard of Adolf Loos? He was Vienna's answer to Frank Lloyd Wright." Yeah, right.

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