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.
TATTOO—Journeys on My Mind by Tina Marie L. Lamb is available at Amazon and BarnesandNoble and iBooks and Audible.
Buy it. Read it. Let me know what you think. –TMLL
FR wrote: “Another idea for the evening could be a relaxing stroll along the Andrassy Avenue a masterpiece of city planning. Home to many boutiques, cafes, restaurants, it is a beautiful highlight of the Budapest city life.”