Farewell to the City of Castles

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I have been homesick and looking forward to the end of the Budapest shoot, but when the end actually approaches, I’m sad to leave.  Having finished packing, I took a long walk along the now familiar streets from my hotel to the Danube.  A realization hit me that perhaps I will never see this city of castles again. 

Basilica

St. Stephen’s Basilica

Opera House

The Grand Opera House

Music Academy

Liszt Academy of Music

Over the weekend, a friend visited me and I took her on a walking tour of my favorite places in Budapest.  As we were meandering around, we came upon a crystal shop that carried the most exquisite cut crystal ware that I had ever laid eyes on.  We stayed a long while, marveling at the brilliant colors, elegant shapes and intricate patterns before continuing on our walk toward the Fisherman’s Bastion.

I had been thinking about the crystal ware when I was packing, and decided to take a walk back to the shop.  In the sweltering midday heat, I combed through the area where I thought it was located, but the shop with the most splendid crystal ware was nowhere to be found. I was disoriented in the labyrinth I thought I had come to know well.

For quite a while, it felt as if my stay here would be indefinitely long, and I could always wait until tomorrow to do the many wonderful things on my list — to visit the aromatic Turkish spice market, to see a film in the grand Urania Cinema, to soak in the mineral spring of the ancient Rudas Baths, or to shop at the dazzling crystal store.  Now suddenly there is no more time.  Time is capricious; it never moves in a dependable pace.

Sunshine-in-Kiraly-Bath-Turkish-Baths-Budapest

The 500-year-old bath that I have not been.

I say good-bye to Budapest with a little regret — much like the kind one feels when leaving a sumptuous buffet without having tried all the delicacies, though completely satiated; or the hint of salt in the salt caramel chocolate, without which sweetness is incomplete and boring.

I imagine decades from now when I least expect it, I might look up the night sky idly and suddenly remember the warm evening when I spotted the mysterious flying creatures soaring atop the magnificent Hungarian Parliament Building — glowing like fireworks — and think of the friends who shared my adventure.  Then more years might pass without a single thought of Budapest when out of nowhere, I’m stopped in my tracks by a brilliant sapphire crystal ware in an obscure storefront.  A nameless longing will surge inside of me; and that night I will dream about being lost on the cobblestoned streets of a distant city searching for something that I will never find…

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Or perhaps there is an alternative ending to my dream (or is it my life?):  Not finding what I thought I was looking for, I will stumble upon a place of astonishing beauty an unfamiliar sanctuary so alluring that I surrender to it like a weary waddling duck gliding into the cool water of a tranquil pond…

Getting lost is sometimes the only way to find home again.

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