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A day in beautiful Budapest

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We arrived in Budapest yesterday afternoon to a whirlwind of sights to see in just one short day.

Let me specify here. For the first 12 days of our trip we are working as section leads, and Dave as the assistant conductor, with the Mississauga Festival choir. So we are traveling as a large group with a pre-planned itinerary and several choral concerts scheduled throughout each city. We really enjoyed Budapest and if we weren’t on this choir tour, we definitely would have stayed a few more days to soak it all in. Nevertheless, here are some of our highlights in this remarkable city:

1. Integration of urban and nature
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After we rested and got over our jet lag, we woke the next day to a tour of picturesque Budapest. It really is everything you’d imagine an Eastern European city to be – colourful architecture, outdoor cafés, intricate roofs, and murals painted on ancient buildings that are so old it’s hard for us westerners to fathom. The greenery interspersed throughout Budapest surprised and delighted me. Trees are planted through the concrete on restaurant terraces, and gardens are plentiful. There is a presence of urban and natural lushness, and the pedestrian streets absolutely take your breath away.

2. Superb views of a superbly developed city

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During this bus/waking tour we learned that the city is actually divided in half by the river Danube. And so we journeyed across the Széchenyi Lánchíd bridge from Pest, to Buda. At the top we got a birds eye look at the entire city. Being the daughter of an urban planner, I’ve been taught to value and notice the way in which cities and towns are developed. Whenever I’m in European cities such as this basking in their physical beauty, I marvel at the thought and care that the early settlers put in to developing their cities. I’m in constant awe of the castles built on hilltops, the churches that are meticulously carved and painted over hundreds of years, and the way the architecture seems to enhance all of the natural beauty found in Europe, such as rivers, alps, and oceans.

3. Hungarian cultural traditions

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We continued our jam-packed day and were delighted to have an afternoon of our own free exploration. We went to the famous central market hall recently awarded Europe’s most beautiful market. After picking up lunch and some apple strudel, we went to a Turkish bath spa, a custom that Budapest is famous for. They have several pools know as ‘baths’ and they are all different temperature and locations throughout one large spa. What a treat it was to swim outdoors surrounded by intricate marble walls in the middle of the city – heavenly!

4. Music Appreciation

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After performing in a catholic mass at St. Stephen’s basilica that evening, I was struck with how integral music is to Hungarian culture. So many famous composes lived here, so for us two university educated musicians (better known as music nerds), this is pretty exciting.

5. Cafés, cafés, and more cafés

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They just plain have this figured out. We need more of these in canada. The outdoor cafe culture is so luxurious and really allows us to slow down, enjoy delicious food and drink, and have time for quality conversations. We had an absolutely fabulous meal tonight with a plethora if sites, smells, and tastes.

All in all, we fit a lot into one short day, and I highly recommend at least 3 days in this wonderful city. We will have to be back soon to fully enjoy beautiful Budapest.



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