The first thing I noticed as the plane was finalizing its descent to the Hungarian capital was that it seemed very different from anything I had ever seen before. I’ve lived for long periods of time in both the north and the very south of Europe, but this didn’t resemble neither one nor the other, it was something much different, and right then and there I knew I was in for a treat.
As an open-minded young man that I am I would spare our fellow readers the use of clichés but one can’t really avoid entertaining stereotypical assumptions, even if it is for a brief and quickly proven wrong instant. As such, when I was expecting a very old locking and dysfunctional airport, I was immediately presented with a very modern, clean, good locking building and what I could honestly say to be the quickest checked-in bags withdrawal of my life. BUDAPEST 1 – CLICHÉS 0.
Leaving the airport with the previously arranged car service I became aware that the initial charm I had been introduced to was left behind, and I was now deeply submerged in the surroundings of the capital with the poorly maintained roads, its aggressive drivers and much more aggressive advertising… Don’t get me wrong, having lived for thirteen years in Portugal I don’t mind a few bumps on the road, the rude and always in-a-hurry drivers, and the overflow of billboards advertising merchandise that 90% of the locals can’t possibly afford. Overall it was actually a very amusing and nostalgic experience but most importantly my driver was prompt, polite and safe.
As to be expected in a big capital, the city center is very frenetic. Everywhere you look and turn: people, cars, buses, tramways, bicycles, shops… in a very good and not excessive way there always seems to be enough public transportation not to wait a long time, enough shops to find the service you require at walking distance (especially if you want to change currency), and enough people to feel safe on the street.
Living on the Pest side was a very logic and fortunate choice. Logic because my faculty is on this side, and fortunate because the general architecture of Pest is just beautiful! The old buildings are very charming, with their rude and smoked but very well adorned faces, their high ceilings, and their inner courtyards that hold the promise and transmit a feeling of a simpler but warmer and happier life.