An uneducated mind in Budapest.

Long live public transport in Europe! Hail to the ever-trusting community of commuters, enthusiasts and providers alike!

Getting around European cities in times where I’d previously have gone ‘Dutch’, personally meaning: being ill prepared and cheap. One has to rely mostly on stranger’s directions for the make shift plans you might have. Especially in a time where mobile internet was just getting started and I’d have to wait for a decade to share such pleasures myself. So that sucks.

Getting around European cities in times where I’d previously have gone ‘Dutch’, personally meaning: being ill prepared and cheap. One has to rely mostly on stranger’s directions for the make shift plans you might have. Especially in a time where mobile internet was just getting started and I’d have to wait for a decade to share such pleasures myself. So that sucks.

This is Budapest, during the end of November 2001, where I got sent to work for just a week and got disappointed in my peers.

Getting directions is easy, but they can –just as my plans- get convoluted.

After tripping over the hotel’s doorstep on the way out, I found myself half way beneath the cross-section of Kalvin square (Budapest). It was evening now. I was edgy and I have had a busy day at work, which didn’t help of course.  I wanted a slightly less adventurous drink than last night, which was kind of a stripper story.

You see, there was no real story there or here for that matter. No fiction, I’m just misleading myself mostly. And the other ‘story’ was more about getting out of a strip club, than getting into one. But I will come back to that. Some time. I’m trying to write about this one now.

As I move further down the last bit of steps I pass the same bums as this morning, I also recognized a barman. But he wasn’t freezing in an embryonic position like the others. He walked steadily towards his work then climbed up the stairs to the Hotel. Had he not recognized me? What about the other poor souls for that matter? Did I not spent cash on them, barman’s tips included, this week to make a difference? The answer was that I was thinking like an asshole, it was fucking cold. They couldn’t care less about me right now, or ever this season.

Treading on, ignoring the smells, I finally move up towards the exit on the opposite stairs outwards.

I thought: “See the locals, have some food and drink!” whilst trying to act all non-touristy during study of their habitat. Great stuff! I’ll make some notes here and there and get lost. But not too lost; I had to wake up early in the morning to go to work again. Maybe I should also start ignoring the bums and barmen all together. Fun fact: I was getting broke.

I looked around to ask someone for directions, to find venues near, but it was crowded as hell. This was Budapest at rush hour, full of traffic and pedestrians trying to get home through the cold November climate.

I finally stopped the first person to ask for directions. But I immediately asked a stupid question: “Where is the nearest busy square?” She immediately said: “Here.” After sharing a few chuckles together, she adjusted and pointed me towards Oktogon on my ‘trusty’ map. Since I still don’t speak any Hungarian I was already happy with this information. First hit: a chuckle and a place called Oktogon!

I imagined Oktogon being something either very futuristic or super historic. It has to be, in this city? It had amongst the most beautiful scenery, old-architecture and err…women, also the possibility for some stylish ‘Art Deco meets Transformers’ bar, no?

Since I had no way to check Oktogon other than to have educated myself prior to my stay in Budapest, it actually didn’t matter any more, I was completely projecting my fantasies onto it already. It was THE place for me to be somehow, while being totally oblivious to what it was. I really needed to get there STAT and erase last night’s drinks from memory. And so, I got too excited and was already dashing towards the subway entrance while shouting back: “Thank you, that’s easy!”.

I said: “That’s easy!” as Oktogon was near a subway indication on my ‘trusty’ map. My ‘Trusty’ map being actually a hotel provision with only strip-bars as the local sponsors, but nevertheless: Mine and all I had.

The friendly woman who just gave me the pointer must have thought what the hell that vaguely strange dude had just conspired, but I was gone, and so is she, we just exist in memory.

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