Thursday, July 24, 2008

Buda Pest   

    Before November of 1873, Buda and Pest, the West and East banks of the Danube respectively, were separate cities. Today, they are unified by the city limits of Budapest, yet their styles remain distinct.


    Buda is a labyrinth of fairytale scenery. It is a game of chutes and ladders made of iron and ivy, cement and canopy. Stairways and doorways, the sound of little feet and soft knocks.

    Buda is for pedestrians.

Doors are built,

So that keyholes can be carved.

And stories found.


    Pest is the relatively urban side. Wildlife is much better hidden on this more geometric side.

(This is the Nyugati train station, built by the Eiffel Co. in 1877)

While Buda has been conserved, Pest has been renovated.

Each can still be a reminder of the rich history of the city.

(Heroes' Square)

(The Opera House)

Communists used to have meetings here. We chose to dance.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Beauty and Brains

Amsterdam is one the most gorgeous, well-built cities I have ever been to. Between the architecture and infrastructure, it was enough to make me a giddy tourist looking to relocate.


Despite Amsterdam's fame for encounters with "nature:" tulips, canals [it's called the Venice of the North (a poor comparison may I add)] and marijuana, one of the most beautiful things to me was the brilliant infrastructure.
Trains, as in most of Europe are fast and convenient. Getting from the airport to the city of Amsterdam was so easy even a tourist could do it, and we did. The first thing I saw when I exited the Amsterdam Centraal train station was


And all around the city


There's even a lane that's separated from the street, and paved red

For bikes.

And special stop lights

Just for bikes.

Trams run on electricity and also have their own lane

(notice all the bikes)

The canals

Beautiful and calm, the canals reflect the usually cloudy sky and rows of houses, drawing a second, slightly rippled, Amsterdam as beautiful as the one that towers above it. The canals can be used for transportation, tourism, leisure and living. Paris' Seine, with its beautiful bridges, high walls and walkways is for lounging and socializing. Or Los Angeles' Pacific, like the city itself is sprawling, wavy and warm. Manhattan is an island, divided but circular. San Francisco enacts its bay, cold and dark. Each city belongs to its source of water. No longer for irrigation, a port, or washing, but still for a lesson on how to live. Like all these cities, Amsterdam is like its canals, small and slow, connected and enclosed, unique.






Walking around the city I passed through medium and narrow enclosed streets that often ran like tributaries to broad, open spaces. Canals of crowds. I have yet to visit a city in the States with this metering. Open spaces in most cities I've visited here were not built, they were preserved. These are the natural spaces- fields and beaches, whereas social spaces are small and indoors - movie theaters, bars, malls. Amsterdam has a much more active outdoor life:

All this space outside, and to what end?

Flowers, coffee, and gestural conversation




The man behind my father is standing, waiting, hoping one of the strangers passing will stop to play a rainy-day game of over-sized chess with him. Very charming.

It's not on the list of 1,000 places to see before you die, but I say go anyway!


and Cheers!

-Sanaz Yamin