So, after spending nearly 3 whole days couped up indoors the rain finally seems to be subsiding – and even a little blue has peaked through. The gale-force winds are still strong enough to’ve nearly knocked me off my feet on several occasions, but hey – at least I can walk outside and remain dry.
A local friend told me yesterday via Facebook that in all his years living here, he’s never seen weather this bad in May.
How ever so lucky of me!
But given even a brief opportunity to catch a glimpse of the city under a blue sky, I had to take it. So somewhere around 5pm on Monday afternoon I emerged from my cave and walked across the bridge and into central Pest.
Man, just breathing a bit of *dry* fresh air changed my disposition almost instantly – moreso than I can describe! For a programmer, someone whose very livelihood is based on being couped up in front of an artificial image for hours on end, I sure do love the outdoors. It may not come as a surprise that I’ve spent a pretty nontrivial amount of time over the years searching for reasonably lightweight solutions to allow me to program in direct sunlight (without having to drape a tarp over my head). No luck so far, but the screen technology in the upcoming generation of e-readers has me hopeful 🙂
Anyway, since I didn’t actually make it outside until fairly late in the day I figured I’d only have time for one or two stops before things started closing up. First on the list: Terror House!
…err…closed Monday. Oops.
Ah well, it was a nice walk – which brought me right to Andrássy út, one of Pest’s main throughfares and home to many of its most worthwhile sights. Andrássy út is a beautifully leafy-green road lined with dozens of large-columned, non-communist-looking, world-heritage-class buildings.
I took the opportunity to walk its full length, ending up at Hosök tere, a large tiled courtyard with an enormous spire and half a dozen statues at its center. The statues, constructed to honor the millennial anniversary (in 1896) of the Magyar conquest of the Carpathian Basin, sits just above the last stop of Metro Line 1: the oldest underground railroad in Continental Europe, and one of the first electric subways (built at a time when trains were almost exclusively powered by coal/steam).
The square’s monument reminded me in many ways of Paris – or I should say, of virtually every park, square, and intersection in Paris 🙂
Just past the monument began the City Park and its Vajdahunyad Castle. Supposedly the lake out front has boating in the summer and ice skating in the winter, but when I was there it was completely drained – just a bit of muddy sludge to partially reflect the image of the castle hovering above. Aside from a few tour groups the park itself was mostly deserted, but I can see how it would’ve been a lovely place on a warm summer day.
Next I retraced my steps back towards the old Jewish ghetto for a visit to one of Budapest’s two most important sites…to me. A site which only two or three people in the world have ever bothered to visit. A site that’s in many ways responsible for my ever having been born.
My grandmother’s hideout during World War 2.