Wednesday night I ventured out to the Pest side. And before I blurb about it, there is no better time than now to briefly discuss pronunciation. For you English nerds: pɛʃt. And for the rest: peSHt. Seriously, don’t be afraid to pronounce it correctly. It won’t bite you on the way out of your mouth.
So we walked over to the Pest side of the Danube. It takes about 15 minutes to walk down to the Chain Bridge, another 10 to walk across, and voila, you’re on the Pest side of the river. At night this is a particularly magnificent walk, as the bridge, monuments, even river are lit by what seems to be a thousand tiny moons. The stone, marble, and brick are even more brilliant than during the day, no offense, sun.
Behind the glitzy art nouveau Gresham Palace Four Seasons, there is the beautiful Szent István tér capstoned by the stunning Szent István Bazilika (St. Stephen’s Basilica—Budapest’s largest church). Another block or so and you’d reach Vaci Utca, which is the street for shopping in Budapest. I haven’t been yet, but probably will soon. Especially because the word floating around the ex-pat circles is that there is an American-taste-bud-approved Mexican cantina around that part of town.
We stopped at Café Negro and sat on the large outside terrace facing the square and basilica. It was about midnight so the crowd was buzzing with locals and tourists. Slightly chilly, we sunk low into the deep leather armchairs. Even though the drinks were Manhattan prices, the atmosphere of sitting out on the promenade at that time of night with the sights and sounds of the square would have been worth double the charge.
As I re-read what I write here, I keep catching myself in this travel voice and it’s a mixture of nostalgia and awe and really annoying to me, but I just can’t help being happy here. But I promise as soon as I stop experiencing things here that waver along perfect, then I’ll get back to my usual cynical sass.
In the following video, my magyar tour guide and translator extraordinaire gives you a brief panorama of the night from the national gallery, the Chain Bridge, and the cafe.