On the Buffet of Budapest

 

Hungarian Parliament

In Budapest yesterday, I caught myself suffering from the paralysis of choice. I was sitting on a bench outside the National Library, staring at my guidebook, totally stuck as to what to do. There are so many amazing things to do and see in this city, and two days is woefully insufficient. 

Early on in this trip, I spoke with a dear friend of mine about feeling overwhelmed with information. She compared tourism traveling with going to a massive buffet. It can be really easy to glut oneself on the first pass, ending up so full you feel sick the next day. But the thing is, the buffet isn’t going anywhere. And when you’re eating at the same buffet for every meal for several days, it’s too easy to overdo it.

My general approach to these European whirlwinds has been to see as many places as possible. I think this may be the last time I try such an approach. Spending six days in Prague gave me ample time to take it easy, wander around without feeling any urgency. Similarly, four days in Berlin was enough to get a feel for things and convince myself I want to return. But I’ve really only got two full days here in Budapest and then two in Copenhagen, and it’s just not enough – especially since the weather turned cruddy today.

So far, I’ve realized it takes me roughly a day to get oriented to a place: to figure out where I’m staying in relation to all the things, how to then get to the things from where I’m staying, and what things are worth seeing. In Budapest, this left me with just one additional day to really take the things in. And there are generally way too many things for that. Ah, well. Lesson learned.

I will return to Budapest. If for no other reason than to come back with a swimsuit and take advantage of the Turkish baths. Since I somehow forgot my suit, I’m not going to try and squeeze one of those in. I already feel like enough of a tourist without trying to go swimming in a sports bra and running shorts.

So I wandered around taking pictures and saw a lot of exteriors yesterday. The Hungarian Parliament building totally wins at general building awesomeness, at least from the outside. And there are lots of pretty bridges and buildings. I meandered around the Central Market, bought some gifts, and got totally ripped off on my lunch. Fortunately the goulash was delicious, so I was only mildly disgruntled about the price.

It started raining late this morning (thankfully before I started the lengthy hike I’d planned), so I’m making this a museum day instead. And the marvel of modern technology means I can compose this post on the metro, typing with my thumbs on my science fiction device, instead of waiting until I get back to my room tonight. Hurray for multi-tasking! 

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