Budapest, Hungary

What a difference a day makes! Our ten day foray into east-central Europe consisted of 3 stops. So in the planning stage we had to decide which of the 3 locations should get the extra day. Based on input from others who had been there, we settled on Budapest. That was definitely the right decision. From a photography perspective, you can especially see why I liked it.

Up until now, we have almost always stayed in cities for about 3 days. When we do that in a new city of any size, the third day is almost always the best. Arrival day is partially spent on travel and getting settle, and the first full day that follows is often the “deer in the headlights” day as we struggle to match up our plans with the reality of the place, with questions like, “How does this metro ticket system work? Where do we get cash? Which way are the sights from here? Where can we eat? Can we find bathrooms?”

The third day, or second full day, is much more relaxed. With more time to focus on the city and less time focused on orientation, we can relax and focus our energy on all the place has to offer, with less energy spent on addressing the details of life. On this trip, we repeated this sequence in every one of the three cities we visited. The only difference was that Budapest had a fourth day, in which the adventure felt deeper and richer, with more time to stop and savor. So the last day of our trip was the best of all.

For those unfamiliar with the city, Budapest is really two cities, bisected by the Danube River. If you have ever watched PBS, you will recognize the major landmark of the more modern Pest, the iconic parliament building right on the river that is featured in every Viking river cruise commercial ever filmed. Atop the hill on the less commercial Buda side stands the castle and adjoining cathedral, beautiful by day and particularly by night. Connecting them are several bridges, the most beautiful being the chain bridge.

Even with four days, we left several major sights unseen. Hopefully there is a future chance to rectify that gap. I would happily revisit this culturally rich city.