Budapest

We reached Budapest in the afternoon to sweat and dust. After settling down and emerging in the evening, the sweltering heat tempered, and a cool summer breeze took its place, offering a brief respite. From the heart of Pest, we strolled through the reanimated city until we reached the banks of the Danube. Yellow trams whirred by. Noisy tourists disembarked from Danube cruise ships, whose ports line the already busy riverbank. The sun drifted below Castle Hill, leaving the sky a clear and spotless navy blue.

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We crossed Elisabeth Bridge to Buda in the twilight, as commuting traffic roared back and forth across the bridge. We traversed small circular parks as well as graffiti-ridden tunnels, where the din of a passing yellow tram reverberated and rattled the concrete walls. The Hungarian Parliament, lit up in an eerie orange and yellow, dominated the Pest skyline. Navigating between tourists photographing the Budapest twilight, we traipsed towards the famous Chain Bridge, the first of its kind linking Buda and Pest.

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We crossed back into Pest via the Chain Bridge, navigating its narrow walkways. Oncoming cyclists swerved to avoid tourists, who looked out across the brooding Danube, and the occasional returning cruise ship cutting through still waters. The Chain Bridge, one of the world’s engineering wonders at the time of its construction, has had huge economic and social implications on the city, providing the first simple way by which residents can cross back and forth across the Danube. Interestingly, the bridge was designed by an English engineer and its construction was supervised by a Scotsman. Guarded on either bank by stone lions, the bridge symbolises, for some, the resilience and unity of this strife-stricken city.

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