I'm going to rewrite/post this one more time, and hopefully, I'll be satisfied with the final product. If not, the few of you who read this before I take it down will be the only ones to know this leg of the journey.
A bit over a month ago, I left Budapest. A week prior to that, I arrived there. Neither of these events was particularly heartwarming or interesting for reasons that I couldn't have foreseen prior to my trip. So what in the hell happened? Simple, I got burned out on travel.
Before you take a moment to pause and the idiocy of that statement sinks in, please consider a few things: I had been on/off sick for nearly 3 weeks by the time that I arrived in Budapest, I had been rushing from city to city because my Schengen visa was nearly expired, and I hadn't been out of a metropolitan area (besides bus rides) for around a month. For anyone who knows me, you know that as much as I appreciate the massive architecture and bustle of the city way of life, I NEED to have some outdoors time. Some fresh air. Inspiration. To go hiking or just be away from people for a while. Which I still haven't done yet and it's December 21st.
Anyways, let me tell you about my time in Budapest.
Though countless hours and quite a few days have passed since I arrived and the details aren't as fresh, I still remember most. My first host, Krisztina, was amazing. I was supposed to arrive on Friday night but I had procrastinated with hopes of a cheaper ticket and when I went to make the purchase, luck caught up and they were all sold out. So I stayed in Poland an extra night and instead arrived Saturday afternoon. To say that I regret this decision would be both truthful and a lie. I had an amazing time my last night in Krakow, but I would jump at the chance to spend another day with Krisztina. Let me explain...
She was genuinely nice, but not in an overwhelming manner. The first night there, we went out walking over the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and along the Danube with the brightly lit buildings lining the banks. It was cold but beautiful! Later, we came back and cooked some authentic Hungarian cuisine and DREW (she painted)! The significance? She was the FIRST person that I've drawn and/or painted with (an activity which sounds so simple yet I appreciated so so much). Not only that, but we drew together TWICE! The first was following the open instructions of "draw a landscape" and the second was drawing requests from the other person. For her, I drew Sydney, Australia and for me, she drew Cappadocia, Turkey with its spire-like mounds and hot air balloons. Her drawing was done in my notebook, so now I have a constant reminder whenever flipping through. The second day, we went and walked the city, seeing some of the Pest side before heading to Buda in time for sunset. It was great, though at one point, we were separated and I ran in what seemed like circles attempting to find out where she had gone to.
In the end, she let me stay an extra night at her place as my subsequent host got home from work at 11pm, didn't notify me that they were there until nearly midnight, and then immediately after said that they couldn't wait any longer and that they were going to sleep. I was pissed as while I was standing outside trying to figure out what to do, my phone ran out of data. Bad luck, eh? Oh, and there were guards on the trams since it was late and I didn't have cash, so I had to walk back.
The following day and for nearly the entire week following that night, I spent my nights (and some days) at a flat of a French guy named Laurent (facebook.com/FengShuiBaziLaurentLanglais) who made crepes for breakfast (along with other delicious meals), led a tour of Budapest's Art Nouveau architecture, and introduced me to some other awesome people. I shared many mindset-challenging conversations with him and that was probably the part that I liked and appreciated most of all. Well, besides the fact that once he woke up the morning following my host debacle he messaged me right away and welcomed me into his home. By the end of the week he was like a longtime friend and leaving felt a bit weird. However, I was already past the allowed Schengen visa time-limit and felt that I couldn't justify staying longer with bans and fines hanging over my conscience.
So, what did I like about Budapest? After all, it was one of the cities that everyone alongst my travels had urged me to go and see. Because it's "A-MAZING!"... and in response to that, much of it IS great. My hosts were worthy of nothing less than the highest praise. Food was cheap and tasty. The bath-house that I went to was like nothing I've ever experienced. It had a mystical feeling as it was cold outside and so the hot water creates plumes of steam that fill the air and sky. The art museum has some great pieces (though absolute garbage customer service; as is the seemingly unwarranted Hungarian way). The architecture and culture are apparent and beautiful.
So why the lack of enthusiasm? This is where the title of this post comes in. By the time that I arrived in Budapest, I was tired of rushing every city and having to focus more on taking photos/editing than really experiencing the people and places where I'm going.
"Why is this spoiled American whining about the rate at which he experiences Europe?! Isn't that just freaking typical?"
Guilt. I feel guilty for being on such a once-in-a-lifetime trip and being nagged by the on-off feeling like I'm taking it for granted. I spent so much time for the past two months running around each and every place that I went to taking pictures, drawing, and then without missing a beat retreating to wherever I was staying to edit and organize everything so when it would come to uploading my blog, I would have time. Not to mention trying to keep a written journal of my days... Group that with meeting new people constantly and trying to be social with each and every one when you're someone who is a loner by nature. By the time I arrived in Budapest, I was exhausted. Exhausted and confused. As I mentioned earlier and many of you know, I kept getting sick. I almost NEVER get sick and even when I do, I'm better within days. This time has consisted of only being better for a few days before spiraling back into flu-like symptoms. It's been a hinderance on both my social skills and motivation, and has caused random spurts of mild depression which haven't helped the producation/tone of this blog.
If this is too much whining, I implore you (the readers; new and old) to throw it in my face. Let me know! If not, I still apologize. Going on this trip was always meant to push me out of my comfort zone. To go until I had no option but to live off of my artwork. To give me something other than depression to feed on and base my work on. This trip is about seeing the world through a fresh set of eyes and then training my hands to paint that newly viewed world rather than the old and bleak universe that I previously knew. So far, I would say that this is successful. Seeing people, meeting such welcoming strangers who would soon become close and trusted friends, experiencing so many diverse cultures, and yet finding similarities to my own life and that we all have the same sky and sunset/rise has pushed me to think differently. If you had asked me 6 months ago to draw whatever was on my mind with no reference, it would have been something related to depression and/or suicide. Not my own specifically, but just the subject. The experiences that push people to that point, the faces that people make and how they're often untrue to what lies beneath the surface, the hope that keeps everyone alive. This trip has just started to REALLY push my buttons and force me to really think rather than being an inconsiderate asshole.