Warning: I’m not good with maps.
After getting settled in my hotel in Budapest, they gave me a map at the front desk, mapped out some possible things to go see, along with a Metro map with our two stops marked on it. Simple enough, hmm?
I ignored the map for the moment. I walked out of my hotel, which was on a major thoroughfare in the city, and just started to wander. Budapest is easy to wander through – incredibly easy. There are so many beautiful buildings and curious things to see. I walked. And walked. And walked some more, amazed by the colors and styles of buildings I was seeing.
It wasn’t before long that I stopped and wondered, “where am I?” I looked at my map. I found an intersection. However, neither streets were on the map.
As I went around a corner holding the map, a massive gust of wind rushed through the tunnel of buildings and practically ripped the map from my hands. It flew up and away, fluttering into the blue skies like a startled pigeon in the square.
Sigh. My shoulders dropped, and I soldiered on, mapless. I had no idea where my hotel really was except for on that map, which was probably hanging on someone’s laundry line by now.
I came upon a beautiful yellow church which fairly glowed in the late afternoon sunshine. Bells tintinnabulated (this is the only time I can legitimately use this word, so I’m using it), and I saw that it was nearly four o’clock. I found a sign post that designed the location of several places, and though I didn’t know any of these names, I went toward Corvin Alley – something I suspected would be a beautiful, historic old alley ala Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.
Again, this didn’t meet my expectation. I came upon a large, relatively new mall. I was chilled, tired, and in need of coffee, so the Costa there looked pretty welcoming. I whooshed inside the cafe, feeling the warmth hit my face immediately. My wind-reddened cheeks glowed.
I got a blueberry muffin and a salted caramel latte and took a seat to people watch by the window. I warmed up considerably, holding the hot latte in my cold hands and wondering how I was going to find my hotel.
The metro map. Bingo.
The concierge had underlined two metro stops on there where the hotel was located. I could figure out what line was closest to me and sort out where to go from there.
I popped into the Metro and bought a 10-ticket pack for the week. I had no idea how to validate the tickets or what the procedure was, but the two “guards” by the machine showed me how to sort it out.
Down I went into the abyss that is the Budapest metro, a long, long escalator ride into the underground. The escalators are steep, though this stop was not the steepest yet.
I went two stops north and got out, seeing the blush of the sunset on the antique buildings near that mighty Danube River. I have to get back to the hotel to both warm up and put on some more layers. I do this quickly, so quickly, and rush back out in just enough time to catch the most enchanting, most gorgeous view of Budapest imaginable.
Walking up to the modern and sleek Elizabeth Bridge, I can’t decide which way to go, but I end up crossing the street an walking part way onto the bridge to catch St. Matthias Church, the Fisherman’s Bastion, the Palace, and the Hungarian Parliament Building dazzle on the river. Even the river’s energetic waters waved over the golden lights pouring from the buildings. Nothing could steal my eyes away from this beautiful sight – not even the brisk, cloying wind that threatened to burn my cheeks with cold.