Budapest Part 1: Strangers on a plane

So last year I wrote about what Valentine’s Day is like for a single bloke, but this year it was a totally different ballgame as I’m with MWG now. Valentine’s is definitely more fun with a partner, and I had a great, lazy day with her, just chilling and cwtching. Our real Valentine celebration had come earlier in the week as we took our first mini-break together to the Hungarian capital.

I’ve decided instead of writing one or two massively long winded posts I’m going to write about the trip in a couple of shorter bursts. So let’s crack on shall we.

Budapest 1

“Oh, they look like doll’s houses!”

Moron.

Okay, maybe that was harsh, and it’s probably a standard response to seeing buildings from a plane, but I was tired and the woman was already in my bad books.

I was tired because by the time we’d boarded our flight at Stansted, neither MWG or I had slept for over 24 hours and the drive up had been fraught thanks to a real pea souper on the motorway and some appalling directions to the long stay car park that had got us totally lost. Thankfully, we’d made it with plenty of time and some Disney soundtracks on the drive had calmed us a bit.

But as we came to touch down I was still tired, the half hour nap had just made me want a bed more and left me with a stiff neck. I was in no mood for asinine comments from a rude, inconsiderate woman.

We’d flown out with Ryan Air, and they have a policy on baggage allowance. Before take off this gobby woman had spotted that someone else had three bags, when everyone else had two, and whinged to one of the flight attendants. He’d replied quietly, to which she’d shrieked “Well, maybe I should lie about being on medications so I could get an extra bag”, again the flight attendant responded in a soft tone, while her answer echoed around the cabin. “How much medication do you have to be on to need an extra bag?”

Now, I think the flight attendant handled it all rather well. Given her petulant, teenage style whining of “it’s not fair” I’d have been extremely attempted to respond with the tried and tested “life’s not fair” line. This is probably why I don’t excel at customer service jobs.

What narked me about this woman was the lack of sensitivity. She loudly complained, insinuating quite obviously that the person with the extra bag was lying or exaggerating. As to asking about how much medication they needed it was grossly insensitive, say this passenger was extremely ill or just suffering from some embarrassing affliction, this woman’s rudeness had drawn attention to it, and that is their private business. And she did all of this because she’d had to pay a little extra for one of her suitcases to be stashed below.

My mood didn’t improve thanks to the taxi ride in. Initially the Hungarian system seemed fantastic, you asked at a desk, were given a fee and then hopped in a cab, handing the driver a receipt with the details on. Only it transpired that the price quoted was a vague guideline. Our driver took us all round the houses, getting us lost and worrying MWG by taking us through some of Buda’s rougher areas, where our hotel was located.

It turned out our hotel was quite a trek from the centre, but we were both too tired to care and not long after checking in both of us had crashed out.

On waking we took a stroll over the Danube, hunting for food. What we found was a Tesco, where we noted the similarities between here and home (Costa Coffee, Cadbury fingers, McDonalds) as well as the differences (Hungary gets points for cherry flavoured Jaffa Cakes but loses them for still having a chocolate brand called Negro. Come on guys, it’s 2015)

After stuffing ourselves on pasta and pizza we staggered back in the dark. Our hotel was easy to find, being a boat on the river, but we still got a little lost as we took a different route to avoid some of the darker stretches.

I'm on a boat, motherf**ker!
I’m on a boat, motherf**ker!

Sleep came easily, and after a few episodes of Adventure Time on MWG’s phone we turned in for the night. (Budapest fact 1: Hungary has lots of the same shows, including 2 Broke Girls, where I learnt that the phrase “Yo, cupcake bitches!” is the same in Hungarian) As first day’s go it had been a bit of a bust, but we drifted off excited to explore the city in the morning.

Stuffed from the breakfast buffet (3/5- no bacon or tea!), our explorations started with a long walk into the centre of town. It was apparently only 7k away, but due to the lack of pavements and having to make our own route we wound up walking for around 3 hours, and hopping onto a sightseeing bus was a blessed relief.

Here I learnt my second Budapest fact- Peter Falk, TV’s Columbo, was of Hungarian descent and due to his popularity has a statue in his honour. Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to get a closer look, though it will be high on my list if I return to the city.

BP falk

Pest, the other side of the river, looked quite a bit nicer and we saw a few impressive sites before we hopped off and visited the synagogue.

Budapest fact 3: The synagogue here is the largest in Europe and the second biggest in the world.

The synagogue
The synagogue

MWG and I were pretty impressed with this building, which was gorgeous inside, decorated in a fairly opulent and Western influenced manner. The small museum held Jewish artefacts, many rendered wonderfully in silver and the memorial garden was a moving place to visit, an island of tranquility in the middle of a bustling city. The memorials were incredibly well designed and afterwards we strolled to view the Basilica and snapped some shots.

St Stephen's Basilica
St Stephen’s Basilica

At this point we were getting a little thirsty and MWG was flagging, luckily, I knew exactly the right pick me up…

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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