From the midpoint of a green iron bridge. One bank, statued hill ridge leading the eyes to a pillars stairs arches palace, pink stones in early evening. The other, five and six story plaster fronted ornate detail tiled topped buildings, balconies, wooden doors, flecked paint, sand colored cornerstones. The subsonic rumble now is of course from the crossing yellow trolley hum from its overhead wires, but it feels like the shimmer burst of this electric city.
We ride the easy cyclepaths. Cobbles, a long row of antique bookshops. Crisply dressed men with valises or sheafs of important papers commuting home on foot, skater punks, bmx bikes, three speeds, more than one pierced tattooed young woman camped on a bench along the Danube reading a thick book, looking up to think then back to the text. We sit at cafes, fresh lemonade or coffee or tall crisp beers depending on the time of the day. There is lightness but people also lean in toward one another without a quip or the punch line, something maybe serious or thoughtful.
A gallant Parliament, surrounded by buildings with fifty year old bullet holes, churches, bath houses, opera, a lovely train station like panning across with a grainy black and white film. Alleyways sometimes with an unexpected furniture design store, sometimes with just a broken door to a shambles space rented for a permanent temporary hipster bar.
Not breathtaking, no, there’s everything vibrant vital about here, everything giving air for breathing without anything anxious. An intensity, sure, but collected and elegant and unswaggered.
A few places in this world readily guilelessly gift their self assurance in their wonder, in their affirmations, gift the knowledge that time spent there is effortless heights and sparking illumination. Budapest does.