Saturday, 11 September 2010

Charlie's Holiday - The Best of BUSHO (2) - 'Buda' and 'Pest'



There was a lot more than movies to be seen at the Budapest Short Film Festival - BUSHO. There was a city to explore. While there were movies galore in the afternoon and seminars (coupled with parties) in the evening, the mornings were usually free...to explore Budapest itself! And what a city to explore. With our hands held by the organisers of the festival, we got to see not just the popular bits and bobs, but also experience a few, well, I got to spa! Yeah, my first time in the steam room, all as a guest of a film festival. This is the high life!

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Where to start? Of course I knew beforehand that Budapest was a beautiful city, but just how beautiful I did not realise until I entered the city itself. Wow, what a city! Especially the central area. With the Danube dividing the city into the hilly Buda on the west bank and the flat plains of Pest on the eastern shore, this is a great setting for any city. It was interesting to note that while many of my continental (and local) co-conspirators on our sightseeing rounds were highly cynical about the Danube (it is green/filthy/boring etc), I was well impressed. Europe's longest waterway, much of it in recent history closed off to Westerners, and this mighty river flowing through the middle of this great city. I got a thing for rivers, the lifelines of humanity where we can trace so much of history along, and culturally they are an important part of society as a whole. Plus, in Budapest, the Danube is the great marker post of the city. If you find the river, you can find your way back...



Once you hit the city itself, you had to figure a way to get around. Believe it or not, Budapest is a small town, and it is better to cover it on foot. Taxi drivers are not even worth the hassle, even during the latest of nights when you are wandering the city. And when my poor feet got tired then it was easy to hop on one of the city's many trams that still crisscross the urban sprawl Fast, cheap and extensive, they are one of the most fun ways of getting about. Plus the fact that I was staying a two minute walk from a tram halt meant that it just made pure common sense to hop on one of this contraptions anytime that I was in a hurry. And trust me, much of the time, I was, but only because I had to get back to the movies! Also, if you compare Budapest's trams to London's own depressing network. They may not be as busy as South London's workhorse, but they pass through far more scenic streets! Hey, what would you choose - Croydon's Fairfield Halls, or Buda's Point '0'?



But what were the really cool things to see in Budapest? First, Buda. Castle in the hills, views overlooking the city, the rich, the posh, the swagger. Imagine Belgravia, but perched over the city, lording itself over the denizens below. It is a little snooty, a little tourist trinky but it is very pretty.



A few hours, a few days could be spent wandering its cobbled streets that wind around the walls and grand old buildings. A little village within the city, the air of the settlement is most definitely posh, but there are quirks to be found even on these tiny lanes that wind around Buda. It seems these posh gits have a sense of irony too...



But there is another side to the city. Fun, frenetic, and where the the lieks of you and me live, work and play. This is Pest, and this is the part of the city that entertains us once the monuments have been duly seen and ticked off on the list. The East bank of the Danube, flat but far from featureless is where you go to have fun! Bars, clubs, restaurants, plus trams galore ;) But of course, our time is up for one day. The sights of Budapest's more funky half I barely cratched. Imagine one whole boulevard of the city closed to allow piano playing and cafes to spring up along the entire stretch? Museums that cover everything from are to torture? Or the world's second oldest underground line?



Oh yes, Pest is far from a pest (allow me this pun!) on the time of the tourist. Add to this one of the most distinctive Jewish quarters in existence on the continent including the famed Synagogue which is reported to be the largest in Europe!



Buda may have the castle and the hills, but Pest can match its twin any day when it comes to architectural splendor. Thankfully the city was spared the worst ravages of both WW2 and the Soviet occupation, unlike many other parts of Eastern Europe. And to be honest, no blog post on Budapet would be complete without a pic of one of the most stunning pieces of political architecture on the planet - the Hungarian Parliament building. Personally, I despise all politicians with they forked tongues and honey coated words. But, I do like the opulence they attach themselves too, even if they are sponging our taxes. In Hungary it is no different. A beautiful building with cringe worthy inhabitants. Still, they are lucky, they only have one set of wankers to deal with...



All right, I am out of here. There is a lot more to say about this city than one blog post can provide. And my brief stay here cannot hope to even do this grand settlement. I will return to Budapest one day. A lot of memories here, most of them not just good, but damn good! Jay and Kay have caused me a hell of a lot of aggro, but getting Budapest was worth a lot of the pain endured for these two little guys. And hey, you never know where next the films may carry me. But before I go, here is one more shot, of one Budapest's prettiest structures - the Szabadság híd, but even this pretty dainty thing is not as iconic as its older and more famed cousin upstream. Oh, and that will be another blog post tomorrow...

2 comments:

Asad said...

Budapest has a good airport, too..

magiceye said...

beautiful city indeed!