Sunday, January 15, 2012

Returning to Budapest + Christmas

As surely most of you know, I've just recently headed back to Budapest for the second semester.  The last few weeks of last semester got rather busy with papers, tests, packing, and simulations, so my updating fell a bit by the wayside even taking my usual time delay into account.

The good news, however, is that my course load appears to be lighter this semester than last.  I'm taking fewer classes and was much more careful about teaching styles and timing, which should allow me more free time and less shuttling back and forth from school - especially important to minimize waiting for bus in the wind.  So this semester I will be taking coursework in Economic Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, and Transnational Corporations and Governance on top of the usual waste of time requirements for degree completion.

Anyway, so as to not completely make this devoid of interest for you, I figured I can write a bit about what December/Christmastime was like in Budapest.

Like many European cities, Budapest puts up a Christmas market and displays in the city center.  Interestingly, here there were several smaller markets scattered around including one near my dorm at Örs Vezer Tere.  The main market is in Vörösmarty tér, just south of my school and right near the main transfer station between all of the metro lines.

The main tree in Vörösmarty when the market was just first being constructed.
The Market in full swing

Váci utca, the main pedestrian street that leads to the market

Another market is just on the other side of my school, just outside St. Stephen's Cathedral.  This one featured a gigantic blue Christmas tree as well as the world's smallest and least functional ice skating rink.  

Outside of just markets, Budapest also puts up streetlamp decorations on all of the major streets downtown.  This would again be fairly typical, except that Budapest has the extra step of differentiating each street with a different lighted image, making walking around a lot less repetitive, especially when you're at a major intersection with two or three images represented.

Street along my walk to school

Oktagon, one of Budapest's main squares

Happy holidays from Erzsébetváros, the Budapest 7th District
If only there had been some snow to go with all of the lights and markets, Budapest would have felt truly Christmas-like.