Yay I am back from my three-day trip to Budapest and I feel like I now know the city well enough to pronounce it’s name in the pretentious way! (like “Buda-pesht”).
After booking ridiculously cheap flights that made us question the general safety of the airplane/our own sanity for trusting it, my friends and I were on our way!
We had to leave at 4 in the morning to get to the bus to the airport, so when we landed in Budapest, I was going on 1.5 hours of sleep (and that’s airplane sleep, so really it should be cut in half). Maybe it was the sleep deprivation, maybe it was the fact that we were by the airport, maybe it was that my iPod ran out of battery on the plane and I couldn’t listen to my standard Ludacris to get me pumped up, but my first reaction to Budapest was….WTF? While our train ride to the hostel gave us views of some pretty awesome graffiti (I’m not being sarcastic, it was actually really cool….maybe I should become a graffiti artist guys!), the city known as “the pearl of the Danube” was not exactly, well, pearl-like.
Luckily, my opinion soon changed and it ended up being an awesome city…plus they had a KFC right by our hostel so saying anything negative would be a bigger slap in the face than LeBron James’ decision (people don’t forget).
We had an amazing trip, with so many fun/awkward/Hungarian things to happen that it is difficult to describe them all here. Below are just a few of the highlights and the rest you will have to imagine yourselves (think “Sex and the City”, Eastern European edition):
Hostel Featuring Actual Internet Connection and Men With Plunging Necklines. When you agree to stay in a place that costs you less than $10 a day, you show up wearing a hazmat suit and hoping for the best. The hostel we stayed in in Budapest was actually really nice though! It was so nice, in fact, that I couldn’t even hold its name, “Lonely Girl on the Planet”, against it (which will, coincidentally, be the name of my posthumous autobiography). We were able to meet people from all different countries AND the kitchen actually had things like plates and cups…it’s the little things, ya know? Every night an employee would take people from the hostel out to different bars/clubs, with a “welcome drink” included for the equivalent of only a euro. Ok, so the welcome drink was actually just a shot in a little plastic cup, but considering I bought a liter of wine in a plastic bottle that I subsequently saw a homeless Hungarian man drinking on the street, I don’t think I have much right to judge quality.**
Walking Tour That Didn’t Make Me Want to Fall Asleep and/or Shoot Myself (Circa 7th Grade Washington D.C. Trip ’04). Our second day in Budapest, we went on a free walking tour that, unlike guys that spend five years talking about how they’re a “DJ” even when you have just met, was actually interesting. We walked all around the city (both parts, “Buda” and “Pest”) and learned about the history of the country and its current national issues from a hot Hungarian woman. Hungary has a really interesting history that I will not even attempt to recount because I will just butcher it/mix in elements of American history out of confusion (George Washington was Hungarian right?). Two interesting facts: 1. Hungarians have a lot of Asian lineage (Google it). 2. Hungarian is one of the hardest languages in the world to learn. It sounds so different from other languages that many English speaking movies actually use Hungarian for when aliens speak. So, when these movies come to Hungary, the aliens’ voices have to be dubbed with something else because otherwise the people would be able to understand what they are saying. So basically Hungarians are aliens trying to practice mind control and take over the world….you’re welcome for the culture lesson.
Wake Up In The Morning Feeling Like P.Diddy. So Hungarian money is called “forints” and the exchange rate is something crazy like 1 euro = 290 forints. This results in feeling like a complete boss whenever you go anywhere and buy something. For example, you can say stuff like, “Just dropped 2500 on lunch. Nbd”. In actuality, this is probably cheaper than what you pay for for a typical lunch in the U.S. or Europe. However, I am a poor college student, so don’t burst my bubble on this one guys…I pretty much just made it rain in Budapest.
That’s the summary of my first big European trip since I’ve gotten here! I can only hope that the next one is just as fun and involves another drunken trip to the airport at 4 am!
*Title derived from an incident at a bar in which a considerably incoherent Hungarian man had one of my friends cornered and just stared at her with drool coming out of his mouth….apparently she was looking exceptionally beautiful that evening. Don’t worry, she managed to get away by climbing under a table. Cultural connections!
**Drinking the same alcohol as homeless people is the only way to get an authentic cultural experience in any new city.