The wheels of my bag dragged and bumped off of the cobblestone street-- I could feel the vibrations creeping from my finger tips up into my elbow and beyond. I look from building to building trying to find my hostel, but my walk has been misled for over an hour. Finally, I see the name "Abel's Hostel" and walk inside. There is a beautiful blonde working the front desk. I walk slowly up to her and tell her my name.
We exchange all of the needed information and in return she gives me the key to my room, but with a slight lingering, "I get off at half past five, if you want a tour of the city." I have been backpacking around Europe for the passed three weeks, but none of the sights have compared to the shine in her smile or the twinkle in her eye.
"I'd like that." I murmur.
"Good. Meet me down here... And bring a jacket, it may rain."
When I get into my room I look down at my watch and see it is already ten past five. I say hello to my roommates for the next few days and change from my airplane clothing to something nicer and more impressive for... well I guess I didn't get her name, did I?
Twenty minutes later I eagerly head back to the front desk. When I get there she is waiting for me. "Ready to go?" She asks.
"Let's do this... My name is Austin, by the way."
We walk through the city of Budapest. This was one of the last cities I added to my trip, in all honesty it was only tacked on to make the route from Athens to Prague slightly easier. But, wow, did this city blow me away-- but most of all, I was blown away by the girl who was showing me it all. I learned that the city of Budapest started off originally as two cities, "Buda" and "Pest". The two cities were united, though you can still see where each city was as they are separated by a bridge and a strip of water.
Though the entire city was absolutely beautiful, there was a particular statue on the Buda side that gained my love. She told me it was The Statue of St Gellert. It was a statue of St Gerard, the bishop who brought Christianity to the people of Hungary. To represent this they have him standing at one of the highest points in the city and raising a cross over the city of Budapest. The way I interpreted the piece was like this: with God raised high up into the air, he was protecting the city from the demons and the evil spirits flying throughout it. Budapest has a dark history, but every time they prevail. I would like to think it has something to do with this statue.
As we move our way over to another point on Gellert Hill, it begins to pour. I quickly throw my hood over my head, but it accomplishes nothing in keeping me dry. Luckily, Hanna brought an umbrella, so we both huddled beneath it and watched as lightning decided to put on a show in the sky. Streaks plummeted from the highest points of heaven, down to the tip top of the city. It was one of the most beautiful natural occurrences I had ever seen. The entire city being lit up for a moment's time by a streaking light-- and it didn't hurt to have Hanna by my side throughout it all.
After the lightning began to slow, Hanna and I began down the hill. The rain continued to pour and the path turned from previously soft dirt to now running mud. To keep her balance, Hanna grabbed onto my hand. To keep myself from floating away, I held tightly to hers.
When we reached the bottom, our clothes were soaked in mud and heavy with absorbed rain. She laughed in pure joy and threw her hands high into the sky. She let the rain fall onto her unprotected body and smiled high to the heavens, as if to send thanks. I watched her for a moment's time with a smile I couldn't free myself from even if I wanted to. She looked over at me, our eyes met and our smiles grew. I removed the umbrella from above my head and threw my hands up, as well. I prayed as many thanks to whomever it was up in the heavens more times in that moment than I ever have or probably ever will again in my entire life.
Finally, I lowered my arms and again looked into Hanna's eyes. We both leaned into one other with more ferocity than the lightning leaned into the city of Budapest. The heavens exploded in a thunderous applause. The rain patted us on the backs with encouragement. St. Gerard tilted the cross towards the two of us.
And that is the moment that I fell in love with Budapest and in Budapest.