When Travel Becomes a Lifestyle, Comparing to Past Experiences Becomes Inevitable / Junpeng Zhang

Junpeng Zhang |

I have been to many fascinating cities and places, no matter whether they are in China or America. Experience is such a treasure that sometimes you cannot easily buy.

After reading the book, Rick Steves’ Postcards From Europe, I got the same feeling from the quote he borrowed from Thomas Jefferson: “Travel makes one wiser but less happy.”

Steves interpreted Jefferson to say travel makes you less happy because it can be sobering to discover the world is more than a high school pep rally. I agree with his opinion, because from the experiences I’ve had, not all of them come with happy endings. Sometimes trips can be tiring and disappointing.  But traveling in Budapest, Hungary, this is not the case. Appreciating the art here is such a joyful thing for me, and walking on the streets just makes me peaceful.

Feelings are important to me.  That’s one of the most crucial factors encouraging me to travel by myself. For example, New York City can’t give me the same feeling as Budapest. Although they are both big cities, when I walked on Broadway, many passers-by around me walked fast.  They don’t really pay attention to their surroundings.  They probably don’t have time.

Some New York streets are chaotic with dirty reconstructed buildings. The pace of the city feels too fast, even for a tourist like me. Sometimes I would like to stop on the street and find something I can appreciate, but when I felt everyone beside me moving like waves, I felt like I had to keep on moving.

Budapest, from this point, is the opposite. People are also moving fast on the street here, but it’s just so quiet, probably because most Hungarian don’t talk very loudly on the street, and most of them don’t even talk on the public transportation.

Small alleys in Budapest are peaceful, and sometimes when you walk in the alleys of Pest side and turn a corner, you never know what kind of beautiful view (maybe an old and impressive church) would come into your view.

As for the transportation system, this is also why I love this place. With a convenient transportation system through the city just like Philadelphia, I can reach wherever I want to go for shopping and trying new foods. The transportation systems in Budapest and Philadelphia are both very understandable. However, to go on trips alone one needs courage, strong judgement and analysis.

I was born in a city that has very good and continuously developing transportation system.  A good and understandable system can easily make me feel homelike. When I tried to buy a subway ticket at a Broadway stop in New York City, I was surprised and disappointed by the complicated system map, and it seemed like nobody would be interested in dedicating their time to help me figure out the map and buy a ticket.

After the third day in Budapest, I concluded that I like this city as much as I like Shanghai. The Pest side looks like very similar with Jing’an District. Both districts consist of many old and historical buildings for living, and beautiful commercial streets, like Nanjing Road. For instance, there is a very old and artful apartment on Maria Utca.  It’s very peaceful, and the building looks so fine, just like the apartments I see in Jing’an District.

Furthermore, Shanghai is also divided into two parts by Huangpu River, just like what the Danube River does to Budapest. Fancy buildings and restaurants are set on both side of the Danube River. Although the Danube riverside is not as same as the Bund of Shanghai, I can still enjoy the different landscapes in Budapest like sunsets lying on the mountains of Buda side.

Overall, familiar experiences are always ones I want to remember and treasure, which makes me joyful. Well, Budapest seems like a wonderful city for me to live in. I never felt like it’s hard to fit it here; in other words, I didn’t change myself so much to make me comfortable here, it’s just natural.

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