Slowly take your pace
Relax and open your eyes
That’s how I begin my journey as I slowly walk from Lehel square in direction of Nyugati. The beauty of the city already hits me. It being possible to walk everywhere through stairs leading you through underground passages – one’s where you close all your senses – but it is absolutely worth it once you are up again.
The weather is lovely and other than some ambulance cars passing the only thing that can be bothering if someone doesn’t decide to go around you when you are going straight. That is just ignorance presented to you. But I cannot care, there is so much going on.
There is a guy sitting softly in his chair. A girl jumping up – playing! Some people are passing by enjoying the streets being closed from vehicles to come through. A slight wind keeps you cold in the almost tropical temperature.
The streets are guiding. Once being planned as circular roads – Pest kept this concentric planning that reminds you of your position. As the sun passes through the streets, you can be very much aware of the time being. You can never get lost.
I continue my route on Bajcsy-Zsiniczky. It is quite empty compared to a usual Saturday morning. It is COVID hitting you in the face again. I don’t mind my because all I can notice is the slightly changing elevation. Some peaking out some are hiding away. I see a slight change in an narrow way, it’s gorgeous. It’s different that’s what brings me there. Some restaurants are keeping me rotate once I reach to the very end. As I pass through them, the smell of almost lunch time hits me, but I don’t stop for now.
There is a street, October 6 street that is hidden in-between the Danube and the avenues. Small shops, cafe’s and restaurants are stopping you while slowly moving cars are passing. It is almost like a pedestrian street but it does much more than that: it doesn’t forbid, eliminate vehicles, it teaches you to engage with them. To live together. One is not in the camouflage of this century’s workings. Vehicles are necessary part of everyday life. Forbidding means giving up.
The Basilica is right in front of you as you lead out from the street alongside numerous tourists seeking to have the best shot from the best angle possible. Cannot blame them. As I pass through them, it is almost inevitable for me not to look back and see the constantly widening and emerging basicila right in front me. I still don’t believe it is here. Right here. That I am lucky not only enough to be in this city but living in this century when I can fully enjoy its being.
The square takes me over and reaches me to the street leading away. It is Vaci street – the one that all tourists guides would recommend you to go to. All shops are there. Expensive restaurants are bumping into your face with high recommendations and the proud of its customers. This is not for me. As I softly say no to the people attempting to find a seat for me, I am already on the other side of the road. I know what I am waiting for. I love how it is a space where citizens and tourists meet: the indirect conversation occurring between them. The citizens are complaining about the tourists occupying, stopping, being. And as the tourists stop them for a second, their reaction kindly changes and happily explain where to go to find the parliament while advising on a place the eat – we Hungarians are certainly some crazy species.
I reach to the Ferenciek square, where the adventure of car traffic is happening. The ones leading for a holiday are piling up in romantic Kifli positions – you may ask how can a car form a kifli? That is one more reason for you to come and see this beauty.
As I pass across the kiflis, I see a bit of emptiness that relaxes me for a bit from the craziness of the touristic environments. But I don’t have to wait for long until I see the citizens overtaking the next chapter. This is the second part of the Vaci street. The one that is less known, where the citizens are walking in a faster pace and the tourists are already seated in immersing themselves into the absolutely madness of paprika favour that we found ourselves putting into all of our dishes – it is lovely I promise.
You might wonder, why am I here? Why do I take on the route of a tourist? It is very simple. This city is made for tourists. Let’s start again. This is a city for tourists. Better, right? It is a city which you don’t need a guidance to because the city is your guide. It is not one where you can get lost. Because the Danube will hit you in the face, somewhere, I promise. You will want to stop. You will want to keep a pace. And the city allows you to do that. The people are only complaining behind your back. So don’t worry, you will never be on your own.
I sit down at a very local Hungarian restaurant – I swear to god I am from here and I decide to eat in these places. It is nice to be surrounded by tourists. It is an identity that is forming more and more strongly by doing this. You become more proud of where you are coming from. Your story. And it is truly valuable.
Once I finish, my adventure continues back on Vaci street to walk across the Danube. See it is that simple to find it! Even for someone growing up in here it is surprising. I pass next to an ice cream shop and it is almost inevitable not to go in there. In this tropical weather? Anything that is cold can help!
I am passing through the bridge Erzsébet – one of the most gorgeous ones I promise (it can only hide behind Lánchíd, but it is under construction for now). The emerging hills are in perfect harmony with the river that somehow makes everything to freeze for a second. As there are the piling cars (less like kiflis) I can easily go on the other side. That is where you wanna stand. You want to face north to see it all. But what exactly?
The most beautiful thing about being in Pest is being able to see the other side of the river, Buda. It has all the beautiful monuments alongside each other. It is almost like going through the past 500 years in one gaze. But what a gaze! The colours are so softly harmonizing with the more and more greenish river – sadly it is getting more polluted – but with nature! The blue sky, the lovely trees and parks are all creating this picturesque experience. You just do not want to go away. But then you move. It is this feeling that you want to see it from a closer point of view because you do not want to believe what you see. But this is reality.
I keep moving to the other side, but I cannot help not to keep looking. I reach to the hill and I am already up before I realise. The stairs are taking me on a journey. Dragging me into nature and then showing me my path in certain occasions. Reminding me of where am I. Then back to nature again. The vista is better and better. But I keep moving because I know what is on the top.
It is the Citadella. It is the most beautiful point of the whole city. Where everything is just right in front of you. All you want to see is there. It is always full of people. But you want to have others with you to share that experience. It is about that community forming and reforming in every single second. You cannot help to keep moving them.
I decide to sit down for a while. And enjoy the vista. There is not much else to do then get my sketchbook out and start taking it in. Even if I have drawn it many times, it is always the best place to sketch something. That is when I feel totally part of it. Once I am ready – roughly 3-5 hours – I am up again on my feet. And a totally different scenery is welcoming me. The city changes as the time changes. And it is getting better and better. But somehow you cannot choose in-between which one you like. The changing effect is what makes you feel like that.
I take a different route down. One that takes me down almost to the Castle. I mean the bottom of it! It would be another trip to have up there – absolutely worth it but do not go on the same day! Now I am leading to the Danube. I love the coastline there. That is my favourite place. It is calm. You know what is the best thing about being in Buda? You can see the gorgeous Pest in front of you. The bridges are giving you guidance in how far you are. They are all totally different. And that is what makes them special after all. But they are all leading from the concentric roads of Pest.
As I walk on the lane, I cannot help to stop and sit down on lovely side of the road and just look at the scenery. Then I take my book out and just read for a bit. Take your time there as well.
As I slowly reach to Margit bridge – that is where I recommend getting back to Pest – it is getting noisier but more vivid. It is because of the tram taking all the citizens from one side to the other. And because of the lovely Margit island in the middle. I am not going down for now, that would be another trip to have – but again not on the same day! I just slowly take the scenery in walking on the right hand side. And that is enough for me today. I am leading back to Nyugati. The road is busy but I do not mind now. It is that vivid nature that you want to experience after a long day of walking. That is what can take you back. Take you wherever you are heading to. Where it all started.
And again, slowly take your pace
Relax and open your eyes