Probably not your usual travel post but I try not to be usual this was an unplanned trip to Budapest. Found out on a Friday that we Would be leaving on a Sunday
I believe every taxi ride that I participated in was one notch for another day lived. Possibly becoming a reason why we were full tilt on drinking. I am not sure if it was the fact that there was always to many of us to really fit in the car or if it was the distance that they had to travel with us. Maybe thinking they would be loosing fairs.
Actually was sent with a team to Budapest to help with a situation in our distribution center in Hungary. Once we arrived though the situation was resolved and even though we went to work everyday it was not the long hours that we expected. So it turned into a paid vacation, adventure that probably will never happen again.Not really expecting to have much time to tour anything I only packed the point and shoot. Figuring that I could get a few pics of the things around us to show the family back home. In reality it turned to an alcohol induce three week party of boats, bars, clubs and food, surprised that we did not need the embassy to help us leave the country. I will say that not everyone in the group participated or acted a fool, but I did that is for sure. Live fast my friends.
Arriving in Budapest airport we split up the group so it would not look so obvious that we all had the same document stating that we were here to advise and not by any means take away work from anyone. So we walked around for a while looking for the customs agent, but one could not be found. Eventually we made it out to the side walk and three drivers were waiting for us. This was a nice peaceful ride to our hotel the Marriott on Joseph Kuruit street. I only remember this today because after the first day of going to work we were dropped off at the other Marriott on the river and the driver was done with us. After flagging down another cab we were able to get to the right hotel.
The Marriott hotel itself was a wonderful place with a great bar. Eva was usually our bartender and took great care of us and introduced us to Palinka. Before my bags entered the room I was sitting at the bar drinking Scotch with Gray Scott Boy (that is a story in itself) I truly believe that we entertain the hotel staff and other guest as much as they entertained us. Strangest thing about the hotel is that they were filming a porn movie in it as we were there. Even during breakfast they would be down in the lobby filming. Make for some interesting people watching.
Eventually we moved the party to the bar next door finding that we could buy rounds for a fraction of the cost. First time entering the bar though seemed very cold nobody talked to us or even looked at us. We drank a few rounds and left a tip. The next night we entered they cleared guest of a table for us to sit. We refused to let them do that and bought the guest drinks and sat with them all night. Eventually we had the top floor lounge reserved for us. The good thing was we never had to show up to work until 11am so closing bars was not a problem.
Everyday at work they would bring in big lunches of traditional Hungarian food for us and we would leave stuffed. Befriending our co workers we learned of places to go and received gifts of homemade wine (good stuff). I myself became a Gyro junkie having a little hole in the wall shop next to the hotel I would get a midnight snack almost every night. I also found a deli shop that I would buy booze, cold cuts, cheese and bread to snack on in the room. Never really snacked too much in the room for most of the time we were out on the street.
The taxi rides were life threatening every time between running red lights cutting through tightly squeezed alleys to even driving on the train tracks themselves I could say on at least three different time we stopped the driver and settled up our fair as soon as we could see the hotel. Riding in them got to be so crazy that you just became numb to the danger and eventually we were all laughing like idiots during the rides.
Another group from the Netherlands was also there to help out, and invited us to a soccer game (football). It was the Netherlands playing Budapest. Our seats were in the Netherland sections. I have been to soccer games in the U.S. and will say that they will never compare to the intensity of the game we seen. Informed even that this was a friendly game. Friendly game then why was I walking through a wall of police dressed in riot gear, some on horses some with dogs all with clubs just to get to my seat. I wanted to take a picture so bad but was scared it would set things off. Again after the game we were surrounded by the police until the Budapest fans left the arena.
Of course a few of us decided that we should check out a strip club. Not maybe one of the best decisions that we made but it added to the adventure. Out on the street we decided that we will go in have a beer then get out. Once we were inside we bought a round of beer and the girls asked if we could buy them some drinks. Being so smart we understand that this is a scam and decline, then we were asked if we would like a dance again we decline. At this point one of my co workers notices that the girl signals to someone in the back of the room.
Simultaneously with our street smarts we understand this is a set up. We are going to be jacked! e finishing our beer (because were to stupid to just leave them) we get up and head for the door. The door is locked. With panic about to set in and just about to bust through the window when a voice from the back yells out “the door opens inward”. I will be damned I thought as the door easily opened to let us out. Could only imagine the impression we left.
Another night we were going to go out with the VP he was going to meet us at the hotel and then we would walk around and eat. Of course we are sitting at the hotel bar when he arrives buying round after round so he bellies up with us. At the same time we have befriended a guy from England (on a business trip to give a presentation in the morning) and he decides to tag along with us for the night. We walked all over town stopping here and there to drink more and more then returning to the bar next to the hotel.
This could possibly be the one night that I went to bed early, after 2 weeks of full tilt I was becoming worn out. I was awoken up by people laughing and shouting outside around 3am. taking a look out the window I could see my co workers and the English guy. I laughed to myself thinking poor guy has to give a presentation in the morning. The next morning we were in the lobby waiting for our taxi’s to arrive when he came out of the elevator looking like death running to the street. As he passed us he said “I’m a tad bit late”.
In the end we never had to use the American Embassy to help bail us out. And I was relived that my hotel bill was less than my bosses, not by much though. I did manage to get a few photo while I was there.
If I was to offer advice to anyone traveling to Budapest I think it would be learn the currency. I myself did not do this but thinking I needed some folding cash the ATM became a strange place. Just going off the buttons of where they should be if I was home and was getting lucky coming to how much I wanted to take out I figured I should just hit the bottom button a nice big stack of cash came out. Off to the club we headed. Only the next morning did I do some research and find out I received 800 in U.S. currency. Probably spent around 200 in the club.