First Impressions of Eastern Europe: Budapest, Hungary, the Perl of the Danube

After landing on Hungarian grounds on June 22, last Wednesday night, I was not asked to show my passport but was advised to immediately proceed to pick up my luggage and to avoid “illegitimate” travel services. The Fötaxi brought me safely to Budapest Centrum Hostel, the youth hostel, which is located on Nádor Útca—a few minutes away from Szent István-bazilika in Pest.

Here, I met my program director and my fellow LE teachers. The group of LE teachers that I spent the last couple of days with consist of students from all over America and from some other parts of the world, and we are all going to either Slovakia, Croatia, Hungary or Romania.

Budapest took my breath away:

The many historical, artistic, literary, architectural, and social treasures sparkled in the glistening sunshine on both banks of the Danube.

While overlooking the river from the fortress in Buda, I was sipping chilled, white wine from the area and eating fresh cheese with figs and honey and warm apricots that were filled with melted Marzipan and bathed in vanilla ice cream.

When visiting the old market halls, a paralyzing yet vitalizing synesthesia created by the many colors, noises, and smells washed over me.

As I prayed in St. Steven’s basilica, the artistic beauty and spiritual aura of the old walls made me feel small and insignificant yet warm-heartedly welcome like a long-lost daughter.

Running towards and embracing Csilla E. Csorba, a very close family-friend of ours and the wife of Gabór Erdödy, the former Hungarian ambassador to Germany and the Vatican, I once more remembered that people mold and represent places. Csilla molds and represents her home in the most honorable, open-minded, hard-working, and kindest way possible. At the fashion show that Csilla had organized in her Museum of the Applied Arts in the heart of Pest, a few fellow LEers and I watched young university students perform their passion. The link between those young women and men and us, students from America and the rest of the world, was this phenomenal, strong, beautiful woman Csilla, who believes in education and who supports the sharing of education through her universally comprehensible signature-way: through being a self-less, generous friend who brings

others together. Thank you, Csilla, for an amazing night at the museum, and for your friendship!

Dancing the night away in a Hungarian club, I twirled around and celebrated my youth—it will not come around twice, and I am thankful for every precious moment.

The sunrise on Saturday morning reminded me that there is a new day, a new beginning, a second chance.

While chatting with my fellow LEers and packing for Romania at the end of our four days in Budapest, the Pearl of the Danube, I filled my heart with the peacefulness and calmness that I experienced under the Hungarian sky where people are just so hospitable.

Thank you, Budapest, for embracing me just as another daughter.

And then I hopped onto the train in Budapest Keléti,

Hungary to Oradea, Romania.