Budapest is a Sagittarius city, Hungary a Sagittarius country (Lilly, Dariot), the astrological sign of the foreigner, priest, wanderer and teacher. As the sign where wisdom is acquired on the zodiac wheel, after the dark night of the soul of the Scorpio and before the wise elder of Capricorn, Sag’s task is daunting. How can we ever grow in wisdom without suffering? We’ve left Scorpio’s intense emotional waters and must learn to walk the long, dry desert of Capricorn without. What happens when we look up in the night sky and there is no guiding light? We learn to survive on faith.

Hardly exotic sounding, is it? No, this is exotic in the original meaning of the world. Exotic simply means different, not the flower behind your ear or the smell of some fabulous “exotic” scent. And depending on your surroundings, exotic can feel either stimulating, fascinating, as in a holiday to some place you’ve never before visited or completely, utterly bewildering. My experience has been both.

Sagittarius also sits across from and so opposes Gemini. If Gemini is the friendly character who owns your corner store, your sibling, your neighbor and kin who speaks your language (think immigrant cities like New York and London, Gemini both) Sagittarius is the stranger who you cross paths with but do not understand – without effort if at all. Yes, it will be difficult to communicate and understand one another. On an elementary level, language is the people connector, the copper cable over which the waves of understanding travel. Budapest is bordered by Austria, Croatia, Romania, all non-Hungarian speaking countries and the Hungarian language has Finnish roots! Reading the guidebook, I learn that out of all European languages, Hungarian resembles none. Nada. This proves challenging for European and English speaking travelers alike. So you can imagine what it’s like to arrive at the busy train station in Budapest for the very first time – absolutely disorienting!