Well, we are off to Sarajevo tomorrow, and I'm really excited about it, but I have to say I am sad to be leaving Budapest. There is just too much left to do... let me explain.
I want to go back to the Jazz Garden, which had a great atmosphere. The trio we saw was skilled enough, but I want to go back and hear one of the Monday jam sessions. And the Old Man Pub (yes, that's really what it was called) was jam-packed on our first night in Budapest, listening to a blues band cover American rock songs in Hungarian. Who knows what we might see on another night?
The movies here are cheap, so we made time to see the Transformers movie... it was worth my 1000 forints just to hear the line "there's more than meets the eye" and see my childhood toys brought to life. Also of note, the sweet castle up the hill is the only one we've found that actually let us explore the ramparts, towers and terraces, plus it came with great views over the city (that's where I took the picture of the chain bridge, above).
Eastern Europe is chock full of two things: one is castles, as above. The other is teahouses. Budapest's best-kept secret is a tiny door below street level that opens into a series of rooms, featuring mirror walls, weird artwork, doors through cupboards, ledges, bridges and ropes. And they have a tea menu!
So, even though we were here for six days, I could've stayed for six more easily (and I didn't even mention the film fest, the huge hilly park, or the coffeehouse). It is perhaps a bit difficult to create an impression of the city as a whole; better to say it's a conglomeration of ancient history, buzzing nightlife, musical venues and of course, a beautiful river, all tossed together in crowded juxtaposition. Perhaps hardest to put into words is the pulse of the city. Olomoucs was pleasant, but very quiet; Rome was busy, but crowded and dirty. Somehow, Budapest gets it just right... it always feels alive, but gives you enough space to feel alive too.