Budapest: It Wasn’t Love at First Sight

by Matthew Treadwell. It wasn’t love at first sight. A low ashen sky shrouded the city when we arrived in Budapest just after Christmas, 2001, leaden clouds spitting sleet and dirty snow. The perpetual pall made everything look poor, derelict, dismal. The very air was gray. The buildings, gray. Even the people waiting in a line that stretched out the door of the corner shop seemed a bit gray, their grim expressions, shabby, formless coats, and dull resignation dredging up every old stereotype of the former Eastern Bloc. They were, after all, standing in line to buy bread. Through it …