‘You can’t miss it’, he said. ‘It’s the second-tallest building in Budapest.’ This was what was rattling around in my head as the metro approached Nagyvárad tér. I couldn’t place it. I’d been above ground on this square (tér) countless times but could I remember a really tall building anywhere? Not for the life of me.When I surfaced and saw, I wondered how I could possibly have missed it.
I was looking at Semmelweis University’s elméleti tömb (theoretical block) and I needed the nineteenth floor. The lifts are programmed by reception. You check in , state your raison d’être, name your floor and then go to whichever lift you’re assigned. Definitely not somewhere for control freaks.
Naturally enough, the windows on the nineteenth floor open inwards at an angle. Not nearly enough room to climb through and requiring faith and safety straps even to get a decent photo.
I was surprised, and nicely so, at how green Pest is. So many trees planted between the concrete towers, something that is not quite as obvious when you’re walking on the streets. This bird’s-eye view is quite remarkable. I saw buildings I’d never noticed before and once again reminded myself that I really had to start turning left instead of right when I leave my apartment. There’s a whole new world out there. The triangular building is not one I recognise. I’ve passed it on my way to Keleti on the No. 24 tram but hadn’t realised that it had three sides to it. Who’d have known?
From this vantage point, the ‘little Basilica of Esztergom’ on Rezső tér look even more magnificent than it does when you stand in front of it and once again I made a mental note to self to find out more about this place.
I saw Ferencváros football stadium in the distance, standing in all its glory, empty and alone. It contrasted strangely with the visions I have of crowds of supporters spilling out onto the streets, or as I saw in Nyíregháza, busloads of fans under armed escort.
I wondered briefly what Nagyvárad tér would look like at night, and decided to stay and find out.
There really is nothing quite like a change of perspective.