The rattling of the air-con forces me to wake before my alarm. The room dark and still. Ice cold mist condensing on the windows. Outside is much warmer than in here. I turn to Danielle who is slowly escaping her dream induced reality.
“It’s time to get up” I whisper.
With sleep in our eyes and excitement building from within, we haul our pre-packed bags onto our shoulders ready to take on today head first. Keys and coffee in hand we lazily stagger out the door, down the hallway, and into the already opened elevator. This building, alive and buzzing with those getting ready for the work day. I hear the cries of children refusing to wake, the floors and walls around us thumping with movement. We stop, the doors slide open and we vacate out the front door. Greeted by the calm, soothing blow of the morning air.
To the train station, we head.
We are looking at the machine that will carry us through countries and around cities. A place we will be confined to for the next 8-9 hours. I’ve never felt this restless about anything before. We board. Danielle first, followed by our bags followed by me. Looking for our seats, my eyes widen in surprise realising both are next to the window, what luck. Allowing her the privilege to stare at my handsome face the entire journey. I just pray the seat next to mine isn’t taken or reserved. I’m not confident I will be able to survive my personal space being intruded for over 8 hours. We sit, we smile and we wait. The journey will be over before we know it.
I shake, I rattle, I buzz. The carriage rocking back and forth. Sleep a certain myth. I stir, move and relocated the position of my bum. Dead from the hours sat down. There’s no comfort for me here. I stand, stretch loudly and head through the carriages in search of entertainment. There is none. Although to my wonder, one of the carriages I stumbled into, was different to the rest. This one had tables covered in white cloth. Menus standing upright in the middle. Seats facing inwards, inviting conversation and relaxation. This is a restaurant. A restaurant on a train. Like something you would expect to see on films, Harry Potter even. Complete awe rose over me. I sat, drank my coffee, paid and went back to my seat to endure another 4 hours of travel.
Oh, the joy.
We are here.
The train comes to a slow, peaceful stop. I ecstatically run off and escape the metal cage. Excitement and freedom in my eyes. The sun is still blazing high above and our feet are aching from lack of movement. With this in mind, we decide to walk.
The route looks easy and short, it wasn’t. The part of Budapest we were right now, was extremely hilly. We hadn’t got more than a 100 feet before being met with a set of ever towering stairs. We hiked, not walked… hiked. Each step harder than the last. The unforgiving sun beating down on our sweat drenched bodies. Suddenly the thought of the train journey didn’t seem so bad. I saw the end of this staircase stretch before my very eyes. It just never seemed to stop. Minutes that felt like hours passed and we were on the brink of losing consciousness. One step, two step, we made it. Looking around with pride and exhaustion on our faces. No time to rest. We must march on; we must get to our destination.
There were more hills. Some that offered steps, some that were self-made and etched into the dirt. Our bags now feeling weightless, we just plodded on. Remembering every building and area we passed so we could come and explore at a later time. Right now our focus was unparalleled. We will be there soon. I can feel it.
The map says we’re here, we’re not. Walking down a long strip of bars and restaurants, worry pushing over my skin as we pass no houses or room for such buildings. Just shop window, after shop window, bar after bar, restaurant after restaurant. It still says we’re here. A twinge of panic fills my stomach. Surely this is the place. We loop, we cross, we go back on ourselves. The map could be lying; it isn’t the first time.
After going round in circles we stop and wait where the marker is on the map. Giving up all hope of finding our space to sleep. As we do, right in front of us a large wooden door swings open. People walk out and we head in, finding our way into what looks like a court yard. Small windows attached to small apartments and flats, circling around the square we stood in. It’s dark. The air feels creepy. There’s no lights or sounds of the street just outside those doors. Our house stares at us directly in front, featureless, small, white and comfortable. We find the keys in their hiding spot, slide them into the locks and swing the door open.
Home sweet home.
The door glides open and we are immediately greeted with the kitchen. No larger than the width and length of four or five people. Simple. The archway, absent of a door, leads out into a cosy front room, perhaps only double the size of the kitchen. Above the seating area where the couches live, a balcony like structure protruded, housing the bedroom. All open planned, all crammed together. The toilet was behind us and that too was part of the front room, with only a sliding door to separate. It was perfect. The perfect homey place to stay for the weekend.
Our bags unpacked and the tiredness of the train journey left in the cosy white house, we decide to hit the streets of Budapest. Everything so vibrant and loud. The people brushing shoulders as we pass, music projecting out of every opening. The air warm and sticky. This place was alive. We head up the main strip of the city, across roads, tracks, bridges, and parks until we find it. A spectacle of lights projecting from the top, dancing in the night sky above. This is the place we need to be; this is where we need to go.
The base is confusing, roads snaking around both sides. Concrete steps are hidden away in the grassy jungle. We climb. Twirling and curling around this hill. Plunged into darkness. Following the very faint trail of laughter, music, and light. This hike is long. Steeper than any path I’ve taken before. We go from steps to dirt, to steps, to dirt. Excitement and mystery pass through our hands into one another. We are getting higher and higher above the city, into the clouds above. Bright lights now becoming mere specks below. Twirling and curling we finally make it. Through the jungle and out into the open.
The Moment I’ve Been Waiting For
It’s bright, like a heaven bright, which in a way was the perfect description for where I was. The view from here is truly magical. Lights stretching as far as the eye can see. Our apartment’s area looking as if it’s only a street or two away. Budapest becoming such a majestic place right before my eyes. We stand and just stare. Eyes straining as the air pinches at the edge of our sockets. This view, this place, this night is something embroidered in my mind, never to be erased.
Behind us stood a tall towered statute, casting its shadow over tourists and locals alike. Providing shelter to those who want privacy from the light. The air is filled with sweet and savory smells; Doughnuts, cotton candy, and hot dogs. The scent drifting through our noses and out our mouths. There’s a certain emotion suspended in the air; One of happiness, love, and joy.
Today doesn’t feel like today. The antics all blending into one compact memory. At this moment in time all I can remember is the here and now, all I can remember is the way the Citadel felt.