There are places, I have found, that inspire my photographic side like no other, no matter how poor the product might be. These places are packed to the rafters with quirky features, interesting aspects and angles that make me stop and say “Now look at that!”. Budapest is one of them, and I decided to dedicate a couple of posts to this beautiful city, starting as you do from its trams and bridges.
Budapest is a city divided in two halves – originally they were two different hamlets, Buda and Pest – by the mighty Danube river which had traded its blue for a steely gray look today (I know, it’s an old joke). To cross it, 14 bridges lie within the city limits and seven of them are those that serve the central neighbourhoods. I, as I suppose many visitors and locals, have my own favourites, with Szabadság bridge taking the top position.
Budapest is also a city of trams, plying the city roads with their signature rattling and chirping bells. They come in all sizes, from small, nimble tin cans to gigantic behemoths like the ones on Line 6 and, while the Metro network is firmly embedded in the city’s consciousness (a very nice film, Kontroll, was shot entirely in its underground bowels), I thin that trams are the unsung heroes of the city. Doing their work day in day out, but without the recognition they deserve. Here’s my very personal way of saying thank you.
These are the workhorses of Budapest’s streets. Rugged, simple, virtually indestructible, one could call them the Kalashnikov of trams.
Szabadság híd, or Freedom bridge, is my favourite bridge in the city. Originally called Ferenc József híd after the Austrian emperor, it was quickly renamed after the Hungarians were able to walk out of their uneasy relationship with their western neighbour.
Trams, carrying love as well as people.
And love is spreading to the Freedom bridge as well.
Erzsébet híd is my least favourite bridge downtown. To start with it’s too large, too white, too out-of-context. Unsurprisingly, it was built in the 1960s, an age ripe for crime against architecture, to replace an older (and much nicer) bridge blown up by the retreating Nazis some 15 years before.
This is Tram 2’s Fővám tér stop, interchanging with Metro’s Line 4. Tram 2 possibly is the only transit line with its own TripAdvisor rating, for it runs along the Danube, trundling past the city’s best sights.
Széchenyi lánchíd, or Chain bridge, is the most famous Budapest bridge, the scene of countless selfies and portraits. To my horror I discovered tiny locks, of the kind that are defacing Ponte Milvio in Rome or Pont des Arts in Paris.
Eventually I manage to conjure a bridge with a tram in the same frame, albeit neither of them featured quite well. The bridge in the distance is Margit híd, the most impressive of the lot. It links up the two banks with Margit sziget, an island along the Danube, and it’s the only bridge I know of to have its own tram stop at midway.
The classic Budapest postcard, under the snow.
A last goodbye to the tram. Which hasn’t arrived yet, though.