Pest holds many other treasures, such as the Great Synagogue. Budapest’s Great Synagogue is the biggest in Europe and second biggest in the world. It’s a tangible reminder of Hungary’s Jewish population—past and present—and the fact that Hungary lost 600,000 Jews during the Holocaust. There’s also a Holocaust Memorial Center that focuses on the Holocaust research and education related to Hungary. Although I didn’t go into either one during my visit, I definitely planned to should I return to Budapest.
There are many other grand places found on the Pest side—whether impressive buildings themselves or gorgeous interiors. Many hotels are in former palaces, such as the Four Seasons Hotel. The famous Alexandra Bookstore is known for its beautiful café.
Of course, not all sites are beautiful, but they can be entertaining.
As a reminder, I was in Budapest for an interview. Although sight seeing, I was also trying to gauge whether or not I could live in Budapest. What struck me early on and continued to reinforce itself throughout my visit was the many (positive) ways Budapest reminded me of Washington, DC, my home for almost 20 years.
Not only are Budapest and Washington, DC both capital cities, but they are also beautiful at night, with dramatic illuminations of buildings, monuments, and statues. In both, you turn a corner, and there’s a statue of some famous or historic person or just something cute or random. They both have an active and robust cultural scene.
And yet there were important differences (after all, I was interested in leaving DC for a reason—well, many reasons), not the least of which was the language. Here was an opportunity to learn a new culture, a new language, a new city, and a whole new scene (not to mention the challenges of the new job). Yes, I could live here. And, yes, I realized I wanted the job.
Coming up: Fast Forward