Confession: I often feel happiest when I’m doing little old lady things. I often find myself in the company of retirees: in watercolor class, for example, or at hotels (all the young ‘uns are out backpacking). It gets to the point when I have to remind myself I’m only 30 and I should do “cooler”, more age-appropriate things now lest I find myself yearning to become a DJ at the age of 70.
Taking a guided tour of the Hungarian State Opera House was one of these little old lady things. I couldn’t imagine leaving the hotel before 3pm on a scorching afternoon for anything else, not even Budapest’s famous baths.
Built in the 1800s, the Opera House’s old-world opulence is apparent from its very doorstep. The stone sphinxes outside made me wonder what it would be like if everyone had to answer a riddle before they could come inside. No stupid people allowed!
The Opera House offers guided tours in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish at 3pm and 4pm daily. The tour guides are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and you can tell they love not just the building, but opera itself. Our guide made turn-of-the-century Budapest come alive for me, with stories of secret lovers passing notes in the narrow smoking lounge, their rendezvous hidden amidst thick clouds of smoke…
… and the royal family gliding up a special staircase reserved just for them.
I won’t tell all the tales, since it’s a lovely tour and I think you should take it if you ever find yourself in Budapest! Instead, let me show you around the Opera House and its many sumptuous details.