D vs Budapest: The down and dirty recap

Written by on April 28, 2010 in Blog, Europe, Hungary, Travel - 34 Comments


I departed Madrid with such apprehension. I wanted to stay, but knew it was time to head out and keep traveling.

Budapest was the destination, but I wasn’t too excited, despite the marvelous things I have heard about it. I loved being with my new friends, and heading to Budapest meant a departure from my comfort zone.

Perhaps my frame of mind upon leaving set me up for the numerous bouts I had with the city, or maybe it was just time for me to practice keeping my wits about me.

Either way, Budapest and I went mano y mano and in the end, well, I think it is safe to say I didn’t go down without a fight.

Round 1

I got off the bus and headed to the train to get to the city. Of course, I speak the equivalent of nothing in Hungarian, so when I handed the woman at the ticket counter 1,000 FTs, she told me it wasn’t enough for the train.

I handed her more. Then, I looked at the sign. Clearly, the ticket I wanted was marked as 320, not 1,000.

“Wait,” I stammered. “I gave you 1,000.”

“Yes,” she said.

“Don’t I get change?”

“No.”

I didn’t know how to argue in Hungarian, so I gave in.

Budapest: 1    D: 0

Round 2

After successfully navigating my way to Unity Hostel in Pest, I rang the door bell, thankful to be putting down my pack and looking forward to getting some food.

I buzzed. And buzzed. And buzzed.

No answer.

So, I buzzed a different number.

“Hello,” said the voice … in Hungarian.

“Hi, hostel?” I asked.

“No.”

“Let me in?”

“No.” Click.

Well, shit.

I pulled out my cell and called. A Spanish recording came on, explaining something to me (guessing I couldn’t make calls).

I spun around, looking at the buildings around me, seeing if I could just yell up to someone in the hostel to let me in.

Nothing.

Fight or flight, right?

I decided to fight. I walked up to a girl checking her messages on her phone and explained to her my situation and asked if I could use her phone.

I dialed the hostel.

No answer.

Panic began to creep into my mind. My heart began to race.

Shit. I have no place to sleep, no map of the city.

Budapest: 2    D: 0

Round 3

“Do you know where I might be able to find a hostel?” I asked the girl.

“Yes,” she said, beckoning me to follow her down another street. “Go down there to the second main street and there is one across from the post office. You will see a sign.”

Thank god.

After about 25 minutes of wandering through one of Buda’s main streets, I saw the sign for the hostel.

I buzzed.

They let me in.

“Hi,” I said, saying a silent prayer for a room. “I don’t have a reservation.”

“That’s OK,” said the receptionist, sitting down in her chair. “How many nights would you like?”

Budapest: 2    D: 1

Round 4

At Interflat Youth Hostel I met two girls from America and we headed for food. The three of us craved pizza so we did what any Americans craving pizza would do, headed to the nearest Pizza Hut (shhhh, no judging).

Pizza was mouthwateringly perfect.

We got the bill.

Really?

The server had added a 25 percent gratuity.

Budapest: 3    D: 1

Round 5

I hadn’t gone out for a few days and my inner conversations were growing stale. I tried to convince a girl in my dorm to come out with me, but she wanted to stay in.

A bar, Instant, was recommended to me by the hostel, so I decided to take a walk on over there for a drink.

I walked in and it was such a cool bar. A packed, cool bar.

There were no seats, so I did a lap through and decided I wasn’t in the mood to stand in a corner, eyeing people and conversations jealously.

So, I proceeded to another bar, one less crowded and a lot less cool, and grabbed a beer. Then, I headed back to my room to catch up on some writing.

Draw

Round 6

I had been in Budapest two nights and had met no one and decided a change of scenery was necessary.

I made a reservation and headed over to Back Pack, a hostel in Buda packed with hippie flavor and general awesomeness (and recommended by Lonely Planet).

It was a rainy and cold day in Budapest and by the time I arrived to Back Pack, my jeans were soaked through and I was chilled to the bone.

But, I had made it. I was immediately let in to the hostel and given a room with a comfortable bed, unlike the last hostel where I was oh-so Princess and the Pea and could feel every spring in the mattress.

To add to the glee, I hadn’t had to validate either of my travel tickets, so I rode for free on the tram and bus.

Budapest: 3    D:2

Round 7

The rain continued on Monday, but I was determined not to let the water drown out my day.

I stood outside of the hostel, OAR (Of a Revolution) playing on my iPod, and began walking down the stairs.

Then, my foot was slipping and my ass was connecting with the slick stairs and I was sliding down to the bottom.

Pain shot through my entire back and my arm. Tears filled my eyes.

For the first time during my trip, I wanted to go home. To my parents. To sit with my mom and have a good cry.

Budapest: 4     D: 2

Round 8

I stood up, fighting back the urge to burst into hysterics. Then, I looked behind me. Was anyone rushing to make sure I was OK?

NO.

I looked at my back. Soaked. I looked at my arm. Scratched. I looked inside of myself. Bruised, but manageable.

I brushed the dirt off of me, sucked in some fresh Budapest air and headed out the front gate and into the city to explore.

Budapest: 4    D: 3

Round 9

At that point, I decided there was a chance Budapest was going to kick my ass. It was time to get traveling, so I headed to a ticket office to purchase a bus ticket to Brasov, Romania.

“I’m sorry,” the woman said, cautiously looking at me and the frustration that was spreading over my face. “There are no buses to Brasov this week.”

“What about a train?”

“I can call and see how much it is,” she offered, and I graciously accepted.

After some back and forth, she gave me directions to another office to go and purchase a train ticket.

An hour later, and a little wetter (it was still raining in Budapest), I held in my hand a second class reserved seat to Brasov, leaving the following evening.

That night, I finally met some people in my hostel, Scott and Heidi, a fabulous Aussie/Kiwi couple and we enjoyed some drinks together.

Finally. My first good night in Budapest was also my last night.

The next night, I boarded my overnight train for Romania for some time out of Schengen Europe. Just in time to start crazy new adventures in Brasov …

Budapest: 4     D: 4

About the Author

Diana Edelman is a travel writer and expat currently residing in Spain. Previously, she lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand where she worked for Save Elephant Foundation and Elephant Nature Park, an organization dedicated to rescuing elephants and raising awareness about responsible elephant tourism. A former career breaker and long term solo traveler,  today, Diana is a responsible elephant tourism expert and is the co-founder of #RTTC, the Responsible Travel & Tourism Collective, which includes a weekly chat on Twitter focusing on responsible tourism. She has spoken about responsible tourism at TBEX and has appeared as an elephant tourism expert in numerous documentaries. Recently, Diana was featured in an episode of House Hunters International. Her writing has appeared in About.com, Thought Catalog, The Huffington Post, Matador Network, Travel + Escape, Luna Luna, Vegas Seven, World Nomads, Viator, CheapOair, OneTravel and more.

34 Comments on " D vs Budapest: The down and dirty recap "

  1. Kathy aka mytimetotravel April 28, 2010 at 1:56 pm · Reply

    Wow – so sorry Budapest gave you a bad time – I liked it enough to go back a second time. Pity you didn’t go soak in a bath (like http://www.szechenyibath.com or http://www.gellertbath.com ). Or take the evening boat ride on the river. Or eat at the market. Hope you have more fun in Romania – I had the guide from hell but still liked the country.

    • dtravelsround April 28, 2010 at 1:59 pm · Reply

      I didn’t have a bad time in Budapest, I just didn’t have the best time. I did go to the baths … check out my earlier post on Taking it off in Budapest. :) I actually plan on going back to Budapest this summer to give it another go … after rainy season and when there are more travelers bopping about. :)

  2. Kathy aka mytimetotravel April 28, 2010 at 1:56 pm · Reply

    Wow – so sorry Budapest gave you a bad time – I liked it enough to go back a second time. Pity you didn’t go soak in a bath (like http://www.szechenyibath.com or http://www.gellertbath.com ). Or take the evening boat ride on the river. Or eat at the market. Hope you have more fun in Romania – I had the guide from hell but still liked the country.

    • dtravelsround April 28, 2010 at 1:59 pm · Reply

      I didn’t have a bad time in Budapest, I just didn’t have the best time. I did go to the baths … check out my earlier post on Taking it off in Budapest. :) I actually plan on going back to Budapest this summer to give it another go … after rainy season and when there are more travelers bopping about. :)

  3. Em April 28, 2010 at 2:43 pm · Reply

    Great blog babe! Love the scoring system, but I have to say that pretty much anywhere you go travelling, you end up the winner. You could be back home, working, wishing you were somewhere else.

  4. Em April 28, 2010 at 2:43 pm · Reply

    Great blog babe! Love the scoring system, but I have to say that pretty much anywhere you go travelling, you end up the winner. You could be back home, working, wishing you were somewhere else.

  5. andi April 29, 2010 at 5:56 am · Reply

    perserverence!!! D wins.

    • dtravelsround April 29, 2010 at 12:04 pm · Reply

      :) maybe you meet me in Budapest and then we train up to Prague with a stopover in Vienna? Or, do the opposite and cruise down the Danube. :)

  6. andi April 29, 2010 at 5:56 am · Reply

    perserverence!!! D wins.

    • dtravelsround April 29, 2010 at 12:04 pm · Reply

      :) maybe you meet me in Budapest and then we train up to Prague with a stopover in Vienna? Or, do the opposite and cruise down the Danube. :)

  7. LLadrien May 27, 2010 at 7:16 am · Reply

    I have been in Budapest many times and not that bad. Ok I accept the services not often working in the right way but if you meet with locals and hang out with them or you try to be underguide it works well and you will have a great time…

    • dtravelsround May 27, 2010 at 7:18 am · Reply

      I definitely do not think Budapest is a bad city! I really like it, actually. I was just having a moment in the city. I would go back again in a heartbeat.

  8. LLadrien May 27, 2010 at 7:16 am · Reply

    I have been in Budapest many times and not that bad. Ok I accept the services not often working in the right way but if you meet with locals and hang out with them or you try to be underguide it works well and you will have a great time…

    • dtravelsround May 27, 2010 at 7:18 am · Reply

      I definitely do not think Budapest is a bad city! I really like it, actually. I was just having a moment in the city. I would go back again in a heartbeat.

  9. Andrea June 4, 2010 at 9:09 am · Reply

    Diana,

    Hi. I’m a friend of your Mom’s at GW. I’m so excited to follow your travels, and quite envious too. I was lucky to work abroad (UK) for 2.5 years and love, love, love to travel and journal. This post, I just had to comment on. I’m pleased to see you are willing to give Budapest another go. It is by far, my favorite European city and I would move there in a heartbeat. I’ve been there twice, for a week both times in May, and have absolutely fallen in love with everything about it from the warm and friendly people, to the gritty “urbanness” of it all, to the amazing (and cheap) food and wine. Do give it another go some day.

    On another note, a good friend of mine, Christine, may contact you from the States. She is interested in traveling abroad this year and I told her to contact you so maybe the two of you can connect. I think you may have a lot in common. I traveled with her 4 years ago to Prague and Budapest and had a blast.

    All the best in your travels. I’m following and enjoying every word. You write so beautifully and your stories are such fun!

    Take care and safe travels.

    Andrea

    • dtravelsround June 4, 2010 at 10:53 am · Reply

      Hi Andrea,
      Thank you so much for the note. I did like Budapest. :) And I look forward to returning there one day.

      Definitely have your friend contact me … that is absolutely fine!

      I am glad you enjoy the blog, too. Tell my momma I love her!!

  10. Andrea June 4, 2010 at 9:09 am · Reply

    Diana,

    Hi. I’m a friend of your Mom’s at GW. I’m so excited to follow your travels, and quite envious too. I was lucky to work abroad (UK) for 2.5 years and love, love, love to travel and journal. This post, I just had to comment on. I’m pleased to see you are willing to give Budapest another go. It is by far, my favorite European city and I would move there in a heartbeat. I’ve been there twice, for a week both times in May, and have absolutely fallen in love with everything about it from the warm and friendly people, to the gritty “urbanness” of it all, to the amazing (and cheap) food and wine. Do give it another go some day.

    On another note, a good friend of mine, Christine, may contact you from the States. She is interested in traveling abroad this year and I told her to contact you so maybe the two of you can connect. I think you may have a lot in common. I traveled with her 4 years ago to Prague and Budapest and had a blast.

    All the best in your travels. I’m following and enjoying every word. You write so beautifully and your stories are such fun!

    Take care and safe travels.

    Andrea

    • dtravelsround June 4, 2010 at 10:53 am · Reply

      Hi Andrea,
      Thank you so much for the note. I did like Budapest. :) And I look forward to returning there one day.

      Definitely have your friend contact me … that is absolutely fine!

      I am glad you enjoy the blog, too. Tell my momma I love her!!

  11. Diane Curry June 12, 2010 at 10:32 pm · Reply

    I’m considering a job offer with decent pay and paid rent to spend 2 yrs in Budapest. Would you take it? I was there once 10 yrs ago and loved it but living there is a whole different idea. Actually as a non-smoker, my biggest concern is that I will be smoked out of the good bars and music venues. More people die of lung cancer in Hungary than anywhere in the world! What’s your quick take on the city? Everyone says they LOVE it….

    • dtravelsround June 14, 2010 at 3:00 am · Reply

      You know, I don’t know the answer to that. Me? I would do it in a heartbeat. But, it is different for every person and since I don’t know you, I don’t know if it would be something you would like. I think Budapest is great and stunning and a magnificent city. If smoking is a big concern, you might want to visit before you accept the job and see how you feel about it.

  12. Diane Curry June 12, 2010 at 10:32 pm · Reply

    I’m considering a job offer with decent pay and paid rent to spend 2 yrs in Budapest. Would you take it? I was there once 10 yrs ago and loved it but living there is a whole different idea. Actually as a non-smoker, my biggest concern is that I will be smoked out of the good bars and music venues. More people die of lung cancer in Hungary than anywhere in the world! What’s your quick take on the city? Everyone says they LOVE it….

    • dtravelsround June 14, 2010 at 3:00 am · Reply

      You know, I don’t know the answer to that. Me? I would do it in a heartbeat. But, it is different for every person and since I don’t know you, I don’t know if it would be something you would like. I think Budapest is great and stunning and a magnificent city. If smoking is a big concern, you might want to visit before you accept the job and see how you feel about it.

  13. Franz December 1, 2010 at 6:05 pm · Reply

    My memories of Budapest are mainly of beautiful buildings covered with graffiti which to me spoke of a lack or pride in the city. I have no desire to return.

    If you like why dont you visit my website and upload an audio blog of some of your travels and travel stories and to promote your blog.

    • The Adventures of D December 2, 2010 at 9:15 pm · Reply

      Thank you for your comment and offer! When I get some time, I will certainly do so!

  14. Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_ May 17, 2011 at 9:10 am · Reply

    Hahaha… the tally with you and Budapest is so funny! I do that all the time in random conversations. I also refer to myself in third person a lot.

    Sometimes I wish I didn’t speak outloud haha.

    • The Adventures of D May 17, 2011 at 9:00 pm · Reply

      Ha!! I wish I would have done a tally for all the countries I visited. Maybe I will :)

  15. Federico May 17, 2011 at 2:30 pm · Reply

    As Kathy says pity you didn’t have time to soak in at a bath. I like Budapest, though I was upset when I was pulled over in the metro by a cop (I was traveling with a buddy) and we were both fined for not validating the ticket- we hadn’t noticed we had to! What botheres me most was that it was obvious that as she was fining us many people were walking by without validating and when I pointed that out to her she said it wasn’t of her concern. Conclusion: she was targetting tourists.

    • The Adventures of D May 17, 2011 at 9:00 pm · Reply

      Oh, I did get a bath in! You know, I only validated my ticket once. I had a spare in my pocket and figured if I saw anyone getting asked, I would quietly stick it in the little machine. They do target tourists though. But, your story is the first I have heard in Budapest. I had heard (and saw) a lot of inspectors in Prague.

  16. Karla Erickson November 2, 2011 at 9:59 pm · Reply

    Just read this.. brings back great memories :) Pizza Hut in Budapest! Who wouldn’t?!

    • The Adventures of D November 3, 2011 at 11:39 pm · Reply

      KARLA!!!!! HI!!!!!! Right, who wouldn’t go to PH whilst in Budapest??? 😉

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