Budapest, Day 2

That’s a statue of Nagy Imre, the controversial Prime Minister who led the nation during the tumultuous Hungarian Revolution of 1956. He was arrested then executed during the Soviet invasion. It’s a wonderful depiction of introspection, solitude, and even reverie. But you’d have to look at the direction of his gaze to understand the symbolism behind the art:

Yep, he’s looking at the famous Parliament. More on that later.

So today in Budapest, day 2, I’m just going with the flow. Rushing from subway to tram (but no bus this time), I get to observe the city from the ground up. I’m soaking in the city as it scurries about, preparing for this impending flood yet getting to business as usual. The news is that the Danube will hit a record high, and I see this with my own eyes. The sidewalks along the river that I could see from the pictures in yesterday’s blog are now below water. But luckily, with no rain yet in sight, I manage to see Freedom Square, where there’s a monument of Ronald Reagan…

Saint Stephen’s Basilica where for an euro or so you could see the mummified right hand of St. Stephen, who was Hungary’s first king:

One of my favorite buildings is the gorgeous State Opera House, which happens to be just next to the Louis Vuitton and Gucci stores:

But for once I skip on shopping to jump on a tram…

that takes me around the city:

By early afternoon, the sky begins to betray me. Humidity gives way to pelting rain and I’m really thankful for my Balenciaga Day bag, which takes a beating but keeps on shining. So I trudge on to see one of the many baths Hungary is known for…

and another castle of sorts…

Everywhere there are food stands like this one:

But you know me, glutton for punishment. I head out for another shot at phở

This time the noodle shop is owned by Vietnamese people, and we acknowledge each other in Vietnamese. I do not know why it is, but we are always a bit sheepish in breaking the ice–as if it is some big, strange coincidence that random Vietnamese could run into each other in a place like Hungary when the truth is that we are everywhere. Phở is everywhere. There is a group of three young Hungarian guys sharing the communal table with me, and they happily practice their English by suggesting which kind of soup I should get. I don’t have the heart to tell them I’m Vietnamese since they seem so happy to share their discovery of this thing called phở.

How was it? It’s like what I said above. I’m a glutton for punishment.

By the time I reach Heroes’ Square, people are ducking for cover at the nearby museum. We are all soaking wet but a quick shot of espresso or a bite of a cake (the pastries here do remind me of Vienna) takes some of the misery away. Besides, can you really complain when you get to see all of this:

I know, I know, those last two photos were actually taken much later in the day after the rain had stopped. But that’s really how I’d want you to see Heroes Square.

So how high did the water get? Well, by the time I took this picture, of Parliament on this night, I could no longer see the sidewalks or even the boat docks. Budapest looks more like Venice. I can’t wait to see what it looks like tomorrow morning!


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