city of a dream

«Budapest», 2009«Budapest», 2009

I first entered Budapest in winter, as the first snow fell upon the city. The night was silent and the lights glimmered as we took the cable car up the Buda hill, gazing through the gauzy snowflakes to the barges on the Danube and the illuminated spires of Parliament below.

In other countries, I had dreamt of the city, conjured its bridges and hills, its poets and failed revolutions, its language vibrating in the streets, an indecipherable stream that flowed invariably to you. So much that even the sight of the forlorn Keleti train station moved me, like the trace of your fingers.

Sometimes, Budapest does not live up to its surnom, Paris of the East. Oftentimes.
One passes the soot-blackened plaster peeling off its abandoned palaces. One walks under its tawdry neon signs, pieces of a dream post-1989. One boards its metro escalators crowded with commuters heading somewhere, plastic bag in hand. One visits its flats for rent and for sale— the sights are too sad to describe.

But during that slow ascent up the hill, the city was a sleeping beauty on the Danube. And the snow that fell softened her imperfections, quilted her in the aura of a dream.

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