Like every child, I loved fairy tales and the imaginative, fantastical aspect of each story. But because I was a strange child, I gravitated more towards the original versions, which are darker and seemed more “realistic” to my melancholy self. I loved all the morbid details that were cut from the Disney takes, like Cinderella’s stepsister cutting off her toes to fit into the glass slipper. Although Bluebeard was admittedly a bit too much and pretty much traumatized me for years after.
After dinner and a quick stop at a café, we continued onto Buda’s most famous (and original) ruin bar, Szimpla Kert. Again, it’s in the Jewish Quarter, where so many other hip places are. We had tried to go the previous night around 11 pm, and the lineup was just insane. So try to go earlier, maybe even during the day when you can see (and photograph) the funky decor much better!
It was very unlike us, but later that night, we discovered we had enough energy to actually dress up and go out for dinner. Usually, we’d go somewhere nearby or -gasp!- even cook ourselves (ok fine, E cooks while I stand around drinking wine). Each time we traveled, I’d compile a long list of “cool bars” to check out in my notebook, and then without fail, we wouldn’t even hit one. So for Buda (yes, I know it’s actually the Pest part of town, but Buda sounds much better to refer to than Pest!), I actually didn’t bother to research any bars, thinking that it would just be a giant waste of time, again.
Like many North Americans, I had traveled throughout Western Europe, even hitting some places more than once (albeit via those frenetic Asian tour buses, so it probably doesn’t count). London, Paris, Barcelona…those destinations pop up again and again in your social media feed. And even if Eastern Europe is mentioned, Prague, Vienna and the stunning Croatian coastline basically overshadow everyone else. Which means that underrated Budapest has stayed out of the limelight, quietly chugging along. *Again, this is only from the North American perspective halfway across the world. Budapest is a popular tourist hub within Europe, that’s for sure.
The next morning, I awoke in a sombre mood, and trudged downstairs to breakfast with heavy steps. Our B&B owner politely inquired, “How did you sleep?” I responded in a bitter tone, “Terribly!” Ever the gracious host, he gasped with horror. “How come?!” I stared at him incredulously. “Because…the election!” He breathed a huge sigh of relief, thankful that it wasn’t an issue with his pride and joy, and nodded. “Oh yes, it was quite the shock.”
The second thing I love most about Montreal is its love and respect for art, especially street art. Brooklyn and Berlin, another two places I’ve been, also share that passion. Toronto is sorely, woefully lacking in colourful and interesting visuals amidst the greys and browns. The first thing that I love about Montreal, of course, is the abundance of wifi partout. There are many things Toronto does better than Montreal (which I’ll list in the next post, the conclusion), but in these two areas, it’s not even a competition.
For Canadians, Toronto vs. Montreal used to be the mother of all rivalries. Nowadays, the rivalry is a mere shadow of its former self, thanks to two major factors: 1) Toronto hockey sucks, and the city has finally woken up to this fact, and 2) Toronto has experienced rapid growth, while Montreal remains mostly the same (which is part of its charm, of course). I hadn’t been to la belle province (Québec) since I moved from Ottawa almost a decade ago – though my past visits shouldn’t really count since they were basically just nightlife tours. This time, I would do Montreal proper, especially since I was with someone whose entire country thinks the capital of Canada is Montreal :p