It's Buda-Pesht

Trip Start Jun 04, 2010
Trip End Feb 08, 2011

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Where I stayed
Kings Gate

Flag of Hungary  ,
Sunday, September 19, 2010

Located in the very heart of Central Europe, Budapest (pronounced by the locals: Budapesht) is a dizzy amalgamation of history; entrancingly displaying its cultural influences and remains.
The sensible Germanic logic of it's layout, the decadent opulence of it's Turkish baths, the Viennese coffee houses, the remaining ruins of the Roman empire, the straight lines of the sober Socialist structures, the Habsburg elegance of the Austrian dynasty, the silent old Jewish quarter and the unique Magyar essence.

The city straddles a gentle curve in the Danube (Duna) River, with hilly, house-filled Buda to the west, and suburban Obuda (Ancient Buda) above - then flat, commercial Pest across the river to the east.

So we have taken up residence at the YWAM apartments, "Kings Gate", in Buda, and just loving the whole experience. So many of the common, basic-life things that we had been missing from home we have been blessed with here. We are based here for our entire 6 weeks and have a floor to ourselves (with the exception of a few guests coming and going) so enjoy the luxury of our own space and pace. We get to do all our own cooking - and grocery shopping - which includes a weekly excursion to a very cute 'locals' market for all our fruit and veges...quite the highlight :) 
It has been amazingly wonderful to be a part of an English-speaking, multi-cultural Church and enjoying some deep and challenging messages. A huge percentage of the members are involved in different missions organizations/ministries around the Budapest, coming from all over the globe to serve here in this city. 
Each day we travel to 'work' at the Ministry Centre, located the other side of the Danube, in Pest. The public transport here is fantastic - with one of the metro lines being so deep you could get through an entire chapter of your book by the time you reach the top of the escalator coming up!

 Our main involvements during our time here is helping in the designing and construction of many aspects and facets of the Ministry Centre - and helping out each Friday evening in the Coffee House well as a few maintenance needs at the "Kings Gate" apartments.

After coming from rural Latvia this place felt like we had stepped forward a few decades into a thriving post-communist city. There are so many beautiful sights to be seen, being so richly endowed with fine arts and architecture, and so many opportunities to be mesmerized by with the cultural emporium of Budapest. Theater and the arts are a fundamental part of life here with countless ballets, productions, musicals and concerts being performed and attended every night in multiple venues across the city...Not to mention all the many 'mini' theaters peppering the districts which have their own cast and avid following. 

But its not all what it initially may seem in meeting the eye...
According to those who know the history of this people better than I, Hungary has always been on the loosing side - having never won a battle or any great victory form more than a century - and in many ways it shows in the peoples lack of pride and esteem. The closest they come is a celebration commemorating a revolt for independence from the Soviet Rule, which lasted a number of weeks but resulted in tanks bringing an abrupt end to the protest. Independence was not gained until the Soviet Union fell some 20 years ago.
On first arrival we were stuck by the sheer numbers of homeless people - sleeping in masses at the metro stations, on every second park bench, and the other favored spot being huddled against the indentations in the detailing of the old buildings on a mere piece of cardboard. 
Graffiti is rampant - along with theft. Anything of value, even in a locked car, that is left unattended or in sight is as good as gone...and a good idea to hold tight to your bags and valuables taking public transport, to be sure.
Added to that, the noise of all the blaring sirens going off almost makes you feel as though you are living in an arcade game.

We are loving the food here - bringing with it a welcome injection of rich flavor that we have missed over the previous months. The omnipresent seasoning in traditional Hungarian cooking is paprika, - no exception being their famous Goulash which is simply amazing...especially on those bitterly chilling days.  

What exciting days before us!
With just a few days orientation, we sunk ourselves into the work here with a real sense of passion and excited anticipation. This place just seems to fit like a glove...

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