Hoping to evoke more profound Christmas spirits in our hearts, I fled the dull Berlin December weather and took my beloved cameras and my significant other on a trip to Budapest.
The Berlin winter can be really harsh, especially when it’s not a truly frosty winter in which ice and snow cover the dirty gray melancholy sidewalks, but a winter that is no winter at all. No snow, no temperatures below 0 (Celsius, of course) and for this reason, you are mostly lacking sparkling, glittery, glamorous Christmas feelings.
In the hope of being able to bury ourselves ten feet deep in fluffy white snow, my boyfriend and I decided to make a trip to Budapest via Bratislava and starting in Vienna, which became to be the most memorable travel escapade of our 2011, it was well documented with my beloved Porst Reflex M-CE, Action Sampler, and my new Diana F+.
After having rejected the idea of hitchhiking from Vienna to Bratislava, which is only about 80km apart, because it was just a bit too rainy and unpleasant for our lazy asses, we simply bought a train ticket and let ourselves be carried away farther east.
We only stayed in Bratislava for one night, during which we walked both to the historic center of the city – which unfortunately is extremely touristy, even at this time of year, and therefore expensive and somewhat soulless, with too many souvenir shops – and its outskirts. Strolling around a cute little Christmas fair, we tasted delicious ‘Lokse’, a very yummy version of pancakes filled with cabbage, chocolate, leek or plum jelly and poppyseeds, to name a few.
The area not far from the central station, where our hostel was located, was really charming, with mystic, lovely old houses that are now being renovated. The only thing that was missing were restaurants and bars – hopefully we’ll find more if we come back one day!
In the morning, we climbed the hills around the city, from which we had a great view and enjoyed the dramatic clouds – perfect for taking photos!
Then it was off to Budapest. At our arrival, it was already night; and even though it was extremely cold and windy, there was no snow to be found anywhere! But this was no disappointment – in fact, we didn’t even have the chance to think about the missing snow (for which we had traveled so far for!) because Budapest is simply breathtaking. Even better than we imagined. The architecture was so stunning that I, in fact almost had to cry. For the first few days, the beauty and majesty of the buildings was really intimidating! To us, Budapest looked like a place where time had stopped a hundred years ago. The buildings with all their ornaments and decorations were very well preserved and whenever we compared photos of the city as printed on old postcards with the present, we could hardly tell any difference…
For five days, we just walked and walked and walked around the city, along the Duna River, up Gellert Hill to get a great view of Pest, we admired the neo-Gothic Pariliament, we walked on Margeriti Sziget – Margaret Island – and a dozen times around the boroughs of Belvaros, Lipotvaros, and Eszebetvaros, where we visited the synagogue built in 1859. It’s the biggest Synagogue in Europe and is just beautiful.
We also walked for hours in search of a good cinema – well, they all looked amazing, but we couldn’t decide on a movie – and ended up in a funny Shisha Bar. We searched hours for food and ended up eating hummus all the time. We walked to the Liszt Museum (really cute!) where my boyfriend gave me a three-hour lecture on the composer. We walked and walked and on the last day, a slight panic befell us when we realized that we had completely forgotten about Christmas, our Christmas spirit and the presents! That was also the first and only day we ever got to experience tiny bits of snow – armed with extremely good and extremely cheap Hungarian white wine, we plunged into Nagycsarnok, Budapests biggest food market, and purchased several tons of paprika powder – all my family members were truly satisfied with this gift.
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