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Trip Report Beware Budapest !

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We spent Christmas in Budapest. We thought it would be a lovely, magical experience. We stayed in a lovely 5 star hotel.

I am not going to get angry here - as I did on a previous forum!.. Not Fodors by the way.

Our overall impression and experience of the City of Budapest was one of the worst ever. I was especially upset and felt very unsafe from my experience. I came away from the city feeling suspicious and frightened. I was afraid to interact with anyone, because sure enough when I did interact I was met by gruff, cold and unfriendly people and I was constantly afraid that I might in some way be breaking their laws and be fined on the spot, and then the police would come and escort me to jail (which almost happened on Christmas Day as I failed to validate my metro ticket).

Some people may say I am naive and should have done my homework and that all the ticket checkers are doing is just making sure people don't try to ride around for free. It costs about euro 1.20 for the trip I took outside my 5 star hotel to the Szecheny Bath and another euro 1.20 for the return. I was so shocked that the two women (who I thought were beggers by the way and I tried to avoid them as I had not been received well previously when I tried to interact with the locals) zoned in on me and stopped me physically to see my ticket when I was getting off the train at Deak Ferenc Ter. I went to walk away as I thought they were begging. When I realised they wanted my tickets I handed them over and was told that I had to pay a fine on the spot. I still thought they were beggers. I could not believe that the City of Budapest employs people on Christmas day and accosts very obvious looking tourists to make sure they don't take advantage of the City to the tune of a couple of euro. Of course like any normal person I tried to explain that we did not know what to do with our tickets, I thought maybe there might be ticket checkers on the train to collect the tickets. I had no idea you had to validate it before travelling. I had no idea there was no date stamped on the ticket to prove my innocence that I had only just bought the ticket. I had no idea it was an honour type system they have. When I went to walk away I was prevented physically and of course I lost my temper (I am just a very naive person and had no idea what was going on). I wished them both a very merry (expletive) Christmas and tapped her on the arm and was barked back with don't touch me. The police were being called (so they said) and my partner pulled out his wallet to pay them. She then let me walk away and I could honestly see the glint of corrupted greed in her eyes when she saw the money coming out of the wallet. My partner was scared that we would go to jail and had screamed to me that we really don't want to go to jail in a country in eastern europe.....

Unfortunate, bad events happened just a few too many times to be a once-off bad experience - that I was unlucky and that I drew it all upon myself.

On our initial arrival to the airport one of our bags was missing (they were checked in together). Also about 30 other passengers' bags were missing (they all had part of their luggage I noticed). No problem - ok so we go to the desk to do the paperwork, etc. It was a fairly awful scene that unfolded. The girl at the desk started screaming at everyone, she was hyperventilating and crying and was unable to handle the situation. Ok - so again no problem, she was only in her third day on the job and still in training, and her supervisor would come to help her or relieve her for the time being and they might get some other desk people to handle the volume of missing luggage from our flight. No - absolutely no-one came. I could see some other airport workers looking at her like she was some kind of idiot and freak. This was the first impression I had of Budapest - that you are on your own and it is dog eat dog out there - no matter what. And that really is the feeling I grew to feel more and more in Budapest.

Oh and the taxi driver who took us to our lovely 5 star hotel was another story. I was very warm in the taxi (after all our excitement I suppose) and asked him if he could turn down the heat please. Silence. I asked again as maybe he did not hear me and of course he speaks a different language to me. Silence. I'm not sure if I asked again - I was quite surprised that there was not even a bit of body language expression from him to say he may have heard something from his passenger but did not understand. He did not twitch one solitary muscle and we may as well not even have been in his taxi. Again, I found this to be very strange and not very nice or amicable behaviour. So that was one of the times when I tried to engage with some people in Budapest.....

When I went to tell the people at the 5 star hotel about how awful the experience with the ticket checkers was I was again met with a look of - oh well that's the way it is here.

I'm sure there will be many replies to say how stupid I am. So be it. I am glad to be home from Budapest. It was the worst experience of my life.

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