Thursday, 08 June 2023
In the midst of Budapest's vibrant ambiance In the midst of Budapest's vibrant ambiance Alejandra Gotóo

Experiencing Budapest: Layers of History and the Spirit of Change

Written by  Alejandra Gotóo May 07, 2023

Last weekend I was in Budapest. I want to write about what caught my attention the most: the ambiance. It's fascinating how our world has evolved. I remember a time when having a computer at home was a rarity, and now I find myself typing away on my Chromebook. This device didn't exist during my teenage years.

Budapest embodies the spirit of change and adaptation. It has witnessed generations come and go, political shifts, and ever-evolving daily lifestyles. As I explored the city, I couldn't help but notice the layers of history etched into its streets, reminding us of the passage of time.

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Some may view these reminders as mere backdrops for Instagram-worthy photos, like the famous The Shoes on the Danube memorial. I saw a plethora of people taking pictures of them, smiling with them in the background. I must admit that most of the smiling faces I saw were of young women, but I have not yet decided what to do with this information. I have visited several memorial places for the Holocaust, Second World War, and none feels equally the same, and they are all equally reminders of awful acts by humanity. Nevertheless, I insist on visiting these places; they allow us to confront the past, connect with the stories of individuals who lived through these events, and contribute to the collective efforts to promote a more compassionate world.

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Another corner of the city that holds special significance are the thermal baths. I went to Széchenyi, which started to be built in 1909, and nowadays is the most popular thermal bath in Hungary’s capital. The architecture of Szechenyi Baths is a testament to the city's rich history. The ornate Neo-Baroque buildings stand proudly, showcasing intricate details and grandeur. These elegant structures create a captivating backdrop as you wander through the indoor and outdoor pools. The indoor pools, in particular, captured my heart, offering a respite from the bustling crowds. Interestingly, I observed a preference for warmer pools over the colder ones, perhaps reflecting our modern inclination to seek comfort and avoid discomfort.

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Lastly, I enjoyed the unique phenomenon of Budapest's ruin bars. I went to the most famous one, Szimpla Kert. This type of establishment has emerged in abandoned buildings and courtyards, breathing new life into neglected spaces. They are characterized by their quirky and eclectic decor, blending vintage furniture, graffiti-covered walls, and an overall kitsch atmosphere. Ruin bars provide an immersive experience where drinks are served in an unconventional setting. The beauty in the disruption can be appreciated in these spaces.

Last weekend, in the midst of Budapest's vibrant ambiance, I found myself contemplating the incredible journey of human progress. A city steeped in history and resilience stands as a testament to the ever-changing nature of our existence. As I wandered through its streets, I marvelled at the tangible imprints of bygone eras, serving as poignant reminders of the passage of time. This experience left me with a renewed sense of wonder at the capacity of humanity to adapt, thrive, and embrace the ever-unfolding story of our lives.

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Alejandra Gotóo (1991, Mexico City), who studied English Literature and recently graduated with a Masters of Social Anthropology is now writing about her time in Croatia as a columnist in Dubrovnik Times. Her work has been published in Spain, Mexico, Colombia and Peru. She has two published novels, Ruptura and Isadore or Absolute Love. Her topics of interest include nature, adventure, language, books, food, culture, animals, conservation, and women's rights. She also writes in her blog: Cardinal Humours.

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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