The Danube at night
I have long since decided that the most beautiful part of this city is the area adjacent to the river. In fact, I have lived here four weeks now and made this decision on approximately day three, and it has stood quite firm. There is a huge relief in stepping out of the dingy, concrete streets between densely packed four-story buildings and into the open air of the river, with space to breathe and beautiful architecture lining the banks. The rest of the city has its sights — the Opera House, the railway stations — but this is where the postcard photos are made.
Naturally, it helps that most of the things built to be looked at lie along the river. Beginning at the northern range of my exploration, there is the view from Margaret Bridge, with the Fisherman’s Bastion, the Parliament building (designed as an almost perfect match to the English Parliament), and Buda Castle within easy sight. From here, it is best to start crisscrossing the Danube over its several bridges to get a commanding view from Buda Hill of St. Stephen’s Basilica and of Gellert Hill, with its monuments visible from all up and down the banks of the river. The bridges themselves are nothing to ignore.
Most of my exploring has been done during the day, whereas the combination of water, architecture, and light is only made more gorgeous with nightfall. Last night, then, I decided to go out and do some photography in the evening dark. Luckily for me this city is quite safe as cities go; although I do try not to look too much like a 20-year-old American girl, I hardly expect to have much cause for concern, nor do I find any. This city is not out to hurt people.
Margaret Bridge is my first stop and an instant winner. It takes 20 shutter clicks before I allow myself to be done with that building. I am not the only photographer with the right idea; on either side of me are a handful of brave souls in the cold dark, carrying expensive-looking cameras which they steady on the bridge railing. My own tiny silver point-and-shoot feels inadequate, but I do what I can, and Budapest makes it hard to take a bad picture. On the opposite bank from Parliament is the Fisherman’s Bastion (pictured), conjuring the impression of Disney Castle.
Moving on, I reach Erzsebet Bridge, my standing favorite just because it shares my name; however, to the south I see Liberty Bridge for the first time and realize there’s a contender for top spot. The bridge is painted green and every beam of it is illuminated. Up close its railings are intricate and graceful and after a bit of close looking at them, I realize that they are adorned with padlocks left by couples. I suppose this can have the title of “most romantic bridge.”
After three hours of happy clicking between walks and short hops on the metro, I make my way home to thaw out my hands. I am a little more in love with Budapest, and I want to see more. The river area is still my favorite.
Could there possibly be something to top this? I have a lot more looking to do.