Thursday, 10 April 2014

9th April, 2014. Kösönöm.

The first thing I learn in a new language is how to say thank you. When buying something, asking for directions, after a small gesture of kindness, saying thank you in their mother tongue will pull a smile on local's faces. Budapest is a city of exceptionally friendly people who will gleefully help out outsiders. I have had to use the word "Kösönöm" more than in any other language.

We are a patchworked group of five travellers, Eliza, my Filipino sister from university, two of her university mates, Kieran and Bekah, who I met this day, and one of their childhood friends, David. None of us had been to Budapest before or even knew what to expect but months ago I fell in love with a series of paintings by a Hungarian artist named Adam Balough. I met him at an exhibition in Madrid last October and so I  messaged him about my trip to his city. Instantly he offered to set down his oil brush and show us around.

Budapest feels like a rich, imposing explosion of colour and gold; every street corner is like turning a page in a fairy tale. The concrete of communism past are only small casts among delicate frescoes and thick masonry. Everything impressed me in a way that was so different from what I knew and I didn't even have to leave my home continent!

After various churches, castles, a ride up a siklo, a cake in the oldest Jewish pastry shop and some kürtőskalács all kösönöm to the brilliant Adam, Eliza and I sat down to sketch the Fisherman's Bastion. It is a predecessor to the Disney castle, named after the fishermen who used to patrol the Danube in the middle ages. Among it's seven towers is the breath taking view of Pest, the eastern side of Budapest.

When night falls, the city gets coated in magic, lights glitter off the Danube and enchantment pours out of the ruin pubs. Our group of patchwork travellers decided to enter a dilapidated building by the name of The Enchanted Forest. Inside, the mansion had been refurbished into a bar and club with secret passageways, rooms, a garden atrium filled with bunnies, trees, magical creatures and other paraphernalia. With cheap Finlandia and orange juice, great music and buzzing company, the enchantment of this pub will last until sunrise.

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