I don’t usually set too much expectations to places I visit, because I like to just take it all in with a fresh mind once I get there. Budapest, though, was a city I couldn’t fall in love with, despite everyone else saying that I should’ve. Sue me. Perhaps it was the part of town I stayed at or the gray weather at the time that just didn’t put me in a cozy spot with the city.
It’s a place rich with history and amazing architecture, but to me… the city felt run down and sketchy, and a little stuck in a previous decade. It’s a major tourist destination and is supposed to be a modern city with old world charm, so you’d think certain public amenities would be more modern and that local life would be bustling and happening. It felt the opposite. Even the famous Gellért Bathhouse did not feel well kept and was kind of grimy and you had to walk barefooted everywhere within it.
There were so many other cities that blew me away, that were far better adapted to the 21st century while maintaining their old world charm and preserving their heritage (Lisbon, Paris, and Belgium: a few that come to mind). It’s not all bad though, there were interesting sights and a few memorable experiences.
One memorable experience in Budapest was being “trapped” in an outdoor patio of a cafe during dinner when a sudden major downpour occurred. Most of the diners tried to stick it out as long as they could in their cozy romantic spots, but the rain was unrelenting and the canopy could not manage. I was in a safer zone, but eventually I had to retreat indoors too. It poured so hard no one could leave the restaurant for some time, but not that that was a bad thing. The restaurant kept us perked with live music and the soundtrack from the outside was a soothing complement to our meals.
Perhaps someday I will give Budapest another try. Before that though, I think there are quite a lot of other European cities to visit first that may capture the rustic romance better that one would expect from such a place.