Not exactly reaching Valhalla.

Oh boy, the cab-drive trip was killing me! The city’s finest night time wonders, beautifully lit historical buildings I might add, were swooshing by our windows while Odin is still yapping shop talk; pulling our attention in and out of this spectacle because he recently introduced questions to his story. The cab driver however was okay, he made sure we got the angle on most exhibits on display tonight before he dropped us off at the restaurant at the end of one of Budapest’s scenic bridges. There were hills with an assortment of historic buildings across the bridge on the other side, which leaves me to believe we were on the Pest side.

I did not have the time to take it all in, since the view was amazing all around, but also because Odin was strutting steadily towards the entrance after dealing with the cabbie; I had to keep up. At least not loose track of Jesus.

We enter. Big surprise, the place was massive and full fancy dressed ladies and gents, mostly gents, some tables filled solely with gents. If this was not the bosses’ restaurant, I’d say there were too many tables filled with tough looking gents. My guess was that they were not part of our company, not even close I hoped. Besides, ‘the Boss’ is not responsible for who gets attracted to his restaurant, take us for example: Freak-show, Jesus and I.

Our arrival was no surprise to the maître d’ and let us comfortably know he had selected an excellent table with a view on the bridge for us. After letting an assistant take our coats he mentioned that ‘the’ two other gentlemen would be joining later. That was weird I thought, nobody told us about ‘the’ others yet, but Odin didn’t seem too surprised. I spot Jesus being pre-occupied with acting tough in his 3-piece travel suit; he wasn’t paying attention. He was just matching the vibe as expected of our on-lookers.

While we were picked up by another assistant to direct us to our seats, I started to chuckle. I had been dragged around all day and was still wearing my travel t-shirt plus the same ripped jeans since that morning. I surely had not impressed anyone so far, but the city and some of its inhabitants completely impressed me. But Budapest, where impression seems to be king for it’s people and their city, was only just an observation so far; I still was hanging out with business people. There was another side to this city though, one more interesting and diverse. I was definitely the odd one out in this scene, especially in my current garb. I was also getting to my limits with this crowd, on more than one level and in less than one day. I just couldn’t wait to get out on my own, but since we’re here, let’s have a drink anyway.

As we got seated we all made sure we ordered rapidly, not that we were in any hurry, but it seemed fitting to our general nervousness: Odin was too fidgety and over-excited, Jesus was hitting on our waitresses while dodging eye-contact of certain gentlemen and I was feeling so out of place that my hunger turned into thirst. Somehow we needed to appear in complete control, hence the menu was barely touched, it was so classy it hurt.

Odin ordered something discretely from our waiter, nothing sneaky, but I just missed it. Jesus ordered a large Argentinian steak also sans-la-carte, while I did have to check ’cause I’m too curious. But I immediately wasted my curiosity and landed on salmon with pasta. A very un-original move because it was the non-frozen version of what I discovered in my supermarket’s deep-freeze section prior to my trip.

The food took naturally long, but the drinks apparently not. Odin was in his game about it though, or at least he was ordering like it was a sport: selecting for us all some bottles of the bosses’ finest wines with an added selection of local beers that got presented in our own cooler. This all while pre-ordering the next round of shots, so that meant for us that food was becoming a very welcome feature at our table, we needed to soak up badly.

We were to keep up with him tonight, but we joked with him he wouldn’t keep up with our eating. It didn’t surprise me if he’d frequent the toilets tonight, but when the starter-drinks arrived, Odin took this opportunity to change his order.

Our food, meaning Jesus’s and mine, was arriving already because we stressed to the waiter before not to wait for the last mutation caused by Odin. Jesus’s steak looked massive and came with all kinds of platters of acidic foods to help with the fatties. My salmon was excellent, but I was eying Jesus’s steak in jealousy, in return Jesus was eying Odin’s oncoming food.

He had ordered all kinds of finger food, maybe because he was afraid he wouldn’t finish a full meal and this would surely cover that up. Now our table is filled with all kinds of saucers and plates and what-not’s, and every time they asked him when he wants the next serving he responded with: Now. And they did, even when they saw almost nothing was eaten and our table was sinking below our meals, bottles and glasses.

In Amsterdam and the waiter would stop asking after bringing excessive amounts of food, there was no way he or she could even leave the kitchen without getting seriously harassed by the kitchen personnel. But not here, there was no need to stop the crazy, as money was rolling in. If Odin had walked up in hospital garb with tubes sticking out of him and a credit card in hand, they would’ve probably set him up way in the back far away from brutish gents to spend his plastic on everything that couldn’t be eaten. Not because of his credit card, but because they know this (kind of) patient. That thought worried me slightly.

Of course there were conversations going back and forth all three of us at our table that night. But I just don’t remember any dialogue. This is the thing also about making lazy travel notes. I presume I’ll remember everything in between notes like: “Taxi ride, excessive behaviour in restaurant and re-appearing somehow at the hotel”, but unless there was amazing dialogue, it’s impossible while you’re drinking excessively too. Luckily I have been telling this story to my friends over the years and tried telling it to strangers if ‘Budapest’ came up, so it stuck with me. I remember the events up until the food came, followed by the toilet incident and some random facts of our manners at the table and how we got out. So here, a belated disclaimer, filling up the blanks… Enter Odin’s wrath.

To be continued…

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