Sounds boring, I know, but I revel in the banalities of life.
To go towards the tram stop, I have two options: by the main road with the furious traffic of cars and pedestrians, or the quiet parallel street splattered with pigeon droppings and dog shit. If I take the former, I pass a Chinese fast food place which I've never been to, two solariums, a second-hand clothing store, a cinema, a shop selling car parts (with a dummy battery sitting outside by way of welcome mat), a bakery with cakes that are all fluff and no substance, the resident beggar, one of Budapest's major foosball joints, a casino, and a bathroom accessory chain. Having done this walk about 948 times now, I recognise the people I pass quite often, though eye contact is as much as it gets. I used to say hi to the beggar, but then I never gave him money, so I stopped.
If I take the parallel street, I pass a string of computer/software/technical-looking shops with the smokers on perpetual breaks, a shop selling camouflage, a music store specialising in Depeche Mode, a tiny place selling loose leaf tea, an antique bookshop, and a dusty window displaying mysterious metal parts.
There are fly posters everywhere, advertising dance concerts, live gigs, language schools and club nights. Once in a while there'll be a poster from where I work, which always looks like it's trying a bit too hard.
In the underpass that leads to the tram stop, there are more resident homeless people who pass the day watching the performances of the day, from solo violinists and miked opera singers to Jesus punks and native Americans (with their faces painted in the colours of the Hungarian flag) chanting suspiciously un-native American syllables to the minus-one tracks. When they get bored of this, or cold, they ride the main tram around the city, to the consternation of anyone who is near them because of their overpowering stench when all the windows are closed. At night they get pissed and slump against the walls before falling asleep.
(Aside: there's an annual poster competition in Budapest, and one year, one of the winners was a photo of a colourful array of sleeping bags and mattresses lined up next to each other in the same underpass, with the tagline United Colours of Budapest
I wait about 30 seconds for the tram, and always get on at the back of the first car or the front of the second one, because they are always fewer people there. I try and remember to stand facing the right way, and better yet, in front of the tram doors, so that when we stop in the middle of the bridge and the doors fold out, I get 5 seconds of Parliament, the Danube, and the castle district and all its steepled buildings.
And then I refocus on getting to work, and try not to fall over as people jostle to the exit before the tram stops so they can be the first to get off. I always give up my seat to parents carrying kids who have cute hats on. And old men and women who have cute hats on. And sit on the laps of men with cute hats on. OK the last isn't true, since they're ramming their tongues down their girlfriends' throats at 7.30am, and it would be rude to disentangle them.
Sometimes I count the trams going in the other direction, usually at least as many as there are stops. Sometimes I make a mental list of where I got everything on my person, e.g. coat-Vienna, boots-Erfurt, jeans-Canterbury, shawl-Karachi. It usually cheers me up because I think about who I bought it with, or who I visited when I went there.
From the tram stop to work is a 3 minute walk uphill, which I do as quickly as possible to get it over with. Some days I stop by the greengrocer's, which is virtually the only place in Budapest where I absolutely have to speak Hungarian, and I think it's safe to say that Feri and I have reached the stage in greengrocer-customer relations where we comfortably engage in friendly banter (e.g. today I bought veggies to make a soup and he said, see you're not that lazy after all). Some mornings a woman walks three gorgeous rust-coloured sheep dogs across the street just as I'm approaching the crossing.
And then I'm at work.