A chronicle of Alison and Ron's trip around the world in 2009-2010.

"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Great Budapest Apartment Shuffle

Here’s the story of how we stayed in 3 apartments in 8 days in Budapest.

After getting off the neverending train ride we still needed to find a place to stay. We immediately met a women named Kathy that offered her apartment for 50 euro/night. We thanked her and went on our merry way, the price was too much for us and way too much for Budapest. We needed to hit the bank, get some food, and then purchase our next train ticket “before” we left the station so we don’t have to backtrack and fight the crowds more than necessary. That plan was quickly thwarted as good ole Kathy found us and started bargaining. We were a little worn down so settled on a much lower price and left to take a look at it.

The apartment was big but on closer inspection wasn’t exactly clean. I don’t even know if they changed the sheets, the bed sheet sporting a red wine stain and curly black hair. No internet connection. And the single sorry dusty fan was broken. Whatever. We were starving and needed food and would have agreed to a liver transplant at that point. The apartment had 4 doors bearing 5 locks and was like Fort Knox trying to get in and out. I prayed for no fires because we would surely be burnt to a crisp. We booked it for 3 nights but when we went back to the train station all the trains to Vienna were booked so we tried to book it for two extra nights.

However, the next morning the man of the house comes over, some ex-cop from NY, and tells us that the bathtub is leaking into the apartment below and we have to move out. But worry not, he has a friend with a hostel that we can move to and will meet us the next morning at 10am. Around 11am, and he meanders in, and takes us to a shitty little hovel that is charging $40/night for a sad room with a shared bathroom, all the other backpackers looking depressed and forlorn in the dim, depressing light. No thanks.

We took our plight to the street and went online to find a cute little studio from Firstapartments for an amazing price of 20 Euro or $28/night, complete with AC, internet, and kitchenette. When we showed up, it was even better than we imagined, it was super clean and well decorated in a deep red motif. The bathroom was so spotless you could eat off the floor. The owner, Gerry, was exceedingly cheerful and friendly and we wished we met him earlier. If you are ever in Budapest and want a good deal from a great guy, you better call him up!

I just love the big beds that use two comforters. This can actually save a relationship if you are with someone who is a bed hog or a “tuck and roller”. You know the type who tucks the covers under them and rolls away leaving their partner blanket-less and freezing. (Ahem, Ron.) My mom has known this one for years after renting an apartment in Val Gardena Italy, it must be a European thing, we first saw it in Prague and now we seek it out as our first bedding option. Second is the two twin Brady Bunch arrangement. Lastly is the too short, not wide enough full size bed that is way too small when it is hot out. No snuggles from me when it’s over 90 degrees out and you are in a room without a fan.

We were only supposed to stay 2 nights, but Ron woke up feeling sick with a cold. Now we had a conundrum, we had non-refundable train tickets and the room we were in was getting work done on the gas line the next day. Gerry found us another apartment from a friend in the Octogon area for two more nights and I went back to the train station to hawk the tickets to an English couple heading to Vienna. It was the first time I carried around a sign hand scrawled with a black sharpie and even though I was selling real tickets I felt like people took me for some kind of a scam artist. We recouped most of the ticket cost and I nursed Ron back to health with fizzy vitamin c tabs and endless cups of juice.

The two times we were to meet Gerry, he was an hour late like the other landlord and we were seriously wondering what Hungarian sense of time was, until we arrived at the train station on our very last day and realized that our watches were off by one hour the entire time we were there!


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