“If you come from Paris to Budapest
you think you are in Moscow.
But if you go from Moscow to Budapest
you think you are in Paris.”
Budapest has been coined “the Paris of the East.” But the readers of Condé Nast Traveler no longer agree with Mr. Ligeti’s ranking of Budapest over Paris. The magazine just published its 2013 Readers’ Choice Awards for the Top 25 Cities in the World; travelers chose Budapest as their #2 destination (tied with Florence, Italy) far and away over Paris (#22).
And judging from all the English we’ve been hearing, the cat is out of the bag – Budapest has definitely been discovered.
Budapest is one of those rare “twin cities” that was united by a river – because waterways usually serve to divide cities, each clinging firmly to their shifting riparian rights. But in 1873, Buda and Pest (and Óbuda – Old Buda) joined forces. From the lofty hills of the Buda side, down to the Danube River, then across the lion-guarded Chain Bridge and on to the plains of the Pest side, Budapest’s elegance, history, and sophistication shine through.
Michael Blumenthal, writing for National Geographic, tells of visiting Budapest in 1986 before the demise of Communism and falling head over heels for its tarnished charms. Then he returned in 1992 as a Fulbright professor to live there for 4 years. He reflects:
“Now, more than 20 years after that first visit, Budapest’s romance endures. Each time I lift a glass of pálinka (brandy) to my lips, I again take my friend György Konrád’s prudent advice. ‘Refuse modesty,’ he writes, ‘drink to every life in this jewel of a city that you made yours.’”
We too were first here over 20 years ago and agree with Michael. Budapest is where we launched our lives anew, and we toast this “jewel of a city” that brought us pure joy. We’re so glad to be back.
Terri & James