You recognize locals by the way they walk, some tourism law says. While tourists stroll around, take pictures, and sniff at flowers, locals just try to get wherever they need to go as quick as possible. I realized that for myself at the places I call home: I just try to run to my destinations and barely notice the beautiful monuments, fountains, flowers, people.
Simultaneously, however, some other tourism law also says that you don’t want to look like a tourist. You want to eat, chill, shop, learn, do what the locals do. My best solution to deal with this––look like a local but explore like a tourist––is through running. I usually have my running shoes with me wherever I go. If I’d walk, I’d look like a tourist and I wouldn’t see enough in the limited time I have. If I’d take a car, bus, or train, I wouldn’t see enough and wouldn’t get to the places I really need to see. Running is the perfect deal: it allows you to cover a lot of ground without being too quick. Especially in the early mornings, when it’s only you and the road cleaning cars out, it’s the best way to explore the city.
We didn’t run on our day in Budapest today. When we arrived late last night, we were tired after 17 hours on trains and went straight to bed. Today, we woke up early and strolled through empty streets as long as it was still cool enough. It soon became quite hot. We had a first coffee in the beautiful Jewish quarter. Walked to the water. Walked back to some central square to join the Free Walking Tour Budapest (these Free Walking Tours, available in many cities worldwide, are the best invention after running shoes, they are informative, fun, friendly, social, cheap, and point you to the best touristy places where the tour guides say that this is what the locals do). We learned some stuff about Hungarian history, food, politics, food, language, food, religion…
After this great introduction to Budapest, we went to Szimpla Kert to get some lunch from local farmers, who offered their products in one of the Budapest-famous ruin bars. Afterwards, we walked for coffee, walked to the castle, walked to get some beer, walked to our hostel. During all of this, we enjoyed the beautiful architecture, the lovely parks, the many places where we’d loved to sit down and enjoy some food or drink if we hadn’t had enough already. As the pictures tell, we behaved as touristy as possible. We’re now really looking forward to finally get on our bikes tomorrow. But first some dinner.