Professional obligations, an unexpected public holiday in Europe and limited flight availability resulted in me being in Budapest for four days. Fortunately, for the training that was the purpose of my stay only two of those were required (but then, one of them was a Friday, which is part of my weekend) . This left me with two (half) days to stroll around the city and discover Budapest.
So after leaving the plane and finding a shop that sells tickets for the public transport – because, umm, why should we put up one of those modern credit card accepting ticket vending machines at the airport, when they’re already all over the rest of the city? – so after getting my tickets and boarding the bus, I at first had to stow away the I-expect-things-to-be-new-and-shiny attitude that Dubai somehow forced upon me in the last months. Luckily, it only took a few minutes (although the missing AC didn’t help) and once done, a nice trip lay ahead of me.
So how different is Budapest from Dubai? Very. In Dubai – at a first glance – everything looks good and polished. It’s only later, once you know where to look and what to pay attention to, that you notice how cheap things are here. Nothing is made to last here. In Budapest to the contrary, things are old, haven’t been furbished in a while but still work perfectly fine. This is of course a way better use of scarce resources than what can be found in Dubai – but then again, the word „scarce“ is probably not part of most Emirati’s word pool. I don’t want to complain too much though, so let’s move on. What else can we find in Budapest?
- People riding a bicycle – on dedicated bicycle lanes (and the sidewalk as well). The system is not quite as elaborated as the one you can find in Copenhagen, but still vastly ahead of what you can find in Dubai. Here you all you can do is ride around the Marina (or risk your life on the streets).
- People drinking alcohol in public. It’s not like I’ve never seen this before – this is perfectly common in Germany as well. But in the last months, I didn’t have the chance to see or let alone do this. In contrast to Dubai, most drunk people were neatly drunk and not wicked wasted, like it happens too often here, once people get ahold of alcohol. Also in contrast to Dubai, most people were drunk, because it was May 1.
- People not caring about what their head of state or a religious leader considers decent attire. That’s not very different from Dubai, but in Budapest nobody even pretends to care. Enjoying the sun topless / in a bikini top in the park is perfectly fine.
- Any combination of the three above.
On my last day I went to Memento Park, an open air museum in which you can find statues and monuments that the Sovjets erected to hail
the working class their leaders. It’s a bit outside of the city but there’s a bus taking you to the park. Good for me, they announce the actual next station in the bus in Budapest – here in Dubai you better know when to leave the bus, because the onboard screens either don’t work or are off by a few stops. The museum itself is nice – the main problem is that there are no further explanations on the exhibits. You need to buy a guide, which I probably would’ve done if only somebody had told me when I was buying my ticket. There’s also an exhibition illustrating the events during and after the revolution of 1956, which I really liked.
More photos, including some of the Fisherman’s Bastion, the Citadel, the city and parks can be found here.