Although I have been living in Budapest for about five to six years, sometimes I still get lost here. Well… quite regularly, to be honest. But I do not really care about it because the best venues and buildings – such as a pretty coffee shop or a beautiful garden – can often be found when we do not really know where we are. Furthermore, the city sometimes shows its different faces to those who are strangers in it.
Actually, I don’t really like being a local in my home country. Despite the fact that I have already visited several European cities and I have been to Central America too, I regularly feel like a tourist or a stranger in Budapest. There is something beautiful and hard to explain in walking alongside the Danube with a camera in your hand and doing what real tourists do; discover this city!
Like all tourists and strangers I can’t find the right direction in the most popular underpasses sometimes, mainly in squares such as Blaha Lujza, Kálvin, and Kodály Körönd. Because of this I prefer walking instead of using the underground or buses. Getting lost as a local in an underpass is one of the most embarrassing situations. Standing desperately in the middle of the underpass while everybody looks at you; pretending that you are a local who knows exactly where they are going…
To be honest, in Hungary I do not really like asking others to show me the way that I would like to go. I prefer finding it out on my own.
Last week I had phone call-assistance to assist quite a funny and awkward situation. I was downtown with my friend (who is from Ukraine) and we wanted to see the refurbished Ferenciek square and try out the new coffee shop near the church. As I previously mentioned, there are crossroads and underpasses in the city centre where I regularly get lost. To be honest, neither one of us knew exactly which direction was the right one.
So we were standing at a crossroads in Astoria trying to figure out where the Ferenciek square was. Instead of asking a passenger or the homeless guy sitting on the tunnel stairs we just kept walking up and down, and up and down, shaking our heads not knowing which exit to take. The left or the right one? Maybe the nearest one? If I remember well, all of the underground musicians and BKV security staff and even the homeless guy were staring at us and questioning our constant bewilderment.
Every fairy tale has a good ending, and luckily so had our story. As we were arguing with each other about which way to choose, my friend got a phone call from her cousin from Kijev. After just a short hello, she asked for her cousin’s help. Her cousin was amazing help! Although she was sitting at home in Kijev, she described the way for us to get from Astoria to the coffee shop at Ferenciek square in great detail…and over the phone!! She mentioned a big, dark but gorgeous building on our right to use as a compass.
All in all, we were arguing for about 15 minutes in the middle of the underground, and without the cousin’s help I may have never caught sight of that beautiful building! She solved our problem in minutes and I could enjoy yet another hidden treasure of Budapest. Every single street and place has at least one treasure, you just need to go with your eyes wide open!