Budapest (population 1.7 million) is one of Europe’s most charming cities. It is divided by the Danube River, separating the city into the Buda hills and the Pest lowlands; eight bridges weave the two cities into one. It is home to lively city squares, walking streets, public markets, parks and gardens – becoming ever more common as its cosmopolitan citizens increasingly prioritise public life. Budapest is a city of breathtaking and detailed architecture in its centre, such as the beautiful Hungarian parliament that hugs the Danube or a host of ancient castles and churches, countered by drab impersonal towers on the city’s periphery – reminders of its communist past.
Budapest has some of Europe’s best (and most eclectic) bars and cafés; many located in abandoned buildings or courtyards, serving cheap beer and good atmosphere. It has fantastic museums, opera houses and an underground music scene, with some of the continent’s liveliest gypsy music bands.
This Central European capital is a city of sorrowful history and of hopeful transition, caught in a dance between the two: progressing gleefully forward, but sometimes with heals in the sand. It is this dance, this conflict between optimism and hesitation that makes the city fascinating. Dance on, you mad, crazy, beautiful, fantastic city!