After finding my way from the airport to the subway, I managed to squeeze near a door before my stop. I pushed through the swarming rush hour crowds coming toward me and managed to get off with my luggage intact. I found the designated exit to the named street in my directions. After backtracking on a few wrong turns, I found my way to the Budapest Hostel while it was still light. This felt like a wondrous feat.
At the hostel, everything was in English. I appreciated how easy they made it for travelers like me who had come to Hungary after learning only 50 vocabulary words of Hungarian and just a bit more in Russian. As I checked in, I was looking forward to the opportunity to recuperate from my journey. But I put my bag in my room and immediately felt restless. I wandered back toward the lobby looking for information on what to do. It was a clean place, almost too sterile for comfort. The young woman at the reception desk had seemed pleasant. I ventured a smile and followed through, “Is anything going on tonight?” She suggested I check the city calendar on the lobby computer.
Minutes later, I had pulled up the weekend’s calendar in English. (Modern technology is amazing.) There was a ballet performance at the National Opera House. I checked in about the feasibility of getting there on time and asked her opinion on how safe my return travel might be. She assured me on both counts. I took out my credit card to buy a ticket and that ticket arrived in my email. The young woman printed it out for me and marveled that I was wasting no time after just arriving on the continent. (That made me feel good.)
I gathered my things: a city map, my pocket flashlight and my ticket. (And wait, I need the hostel address and my key!) Out on the sidewalk, I was keen with excitement. My fatigue from the plane ride had melted. This was Budapest! I was ready for adventure.
After walking close to a half hour, I came to the National Opera House. It was elegantly beautiful and lit up like a white palace. This big theater started right at the curb, as though the street may have come later. The theater’s top level was surrounded by imposing statuary. I noted one could buy a ticket during the day just to tour the inside. What luck to be taking in a city sight and a show on the same ticket. I went in. Unlike other theaters in Eastern Europe, the security staff did not pull me aside to frown at my attire. (I liked these people.)
I took my seat with only minutes to spare before the lights dimmed. I was in a full theater and there were a good number of young people, unlike most ballet audiences at home. The first act was an all-male review, more modern dance than ballet. Each dancer had on a colorful bikini brief over his tights. The music was peppy and I appreciated that.
The long intermission afforded the opportunity to admire the painting and sculpture in the interior. After my self-guided tour, the intermission showed no sign of ending so I worked my way to the refreshments table. Slowly sipping my champagne, amidst the cacophony of voices speaking in rapid Hungarian, I reflected on my fine start in Budapest. Back in my seat, the second act proved to be a classical piece, well executed, as one would expect in that part of the world.
Slowly working through the crowd, I eventually departed the theater. Back on the sidewalk, I managed to find my way directly back to the hostel. This time when I reached my room, I was ready to call it a night.
Buy it. Read it. Let me know what you think. –TMLL