Half of the city owes itself to the absurd grandeur of imperial Europe, and the other half is a clod of bitter Soviet concrete. You gasp down Andrassy boulevard to the Heroes’ Square, which reminds you that Magyars were raiders with horses, furs, clubs and an expression of noble and lung-bursting rage. In front of you is a castle, a replica from one of those crenellated Transylvanian jobs you imagine sprouting like weeds over central Europe. People are kind, the Advent markets are built out of tinsel and look like a Christmas cake, the food warms you through quite. The best inheritance from its Turkish days are the wonderful bath houses, which leave you feeling boneless and amphibian.
The twin city leaves you with an aftertaste of snow, ballrooms, and goulash. From above, on Buda-side, it’s a confectionary spun with golden lights and filigree architecture. Below, we waltzed quite literally by the blue Danube – there, the city looks a blur of grander days.