I have really toned it down from the real words that were going through my head.
17.01.2014 - 19.01.2014
Budapest. Did you know it is Buda and Pest? I didn’t before I arrived. Well I knew 5 fifths of bugger all before I went, so that is not really surprising. Iain and I are taking part in a spontaneity study, so to show it that Iain meant business and we are spontaneous in our own right he decided to push out his business trip to return on Sunday night, and book me a flight to join him in Budapest, on Thursday…. For Friday.
Normally this would not be an issue for the ‘Amazing Race’ travellers that we are. However in a relationship that has worked so well as a functioning team, when it is split up for even a short period of time it all turns to rubbish. I have no one to blame but myself in this situation.
Thursday night: Iain books the tickets, no problems. I research and book train tickets, research and book a hotel, no problems. Skype my mum, do the washing, make some soup, clean the house, pack my bag. Clockwork, no problems at all.
Friday: Manic work day, as usual I guess, not sure why I expected any different. Go to leave the office at 1730 (have been their since 0630), shit. No passport. That’s Iain’s job. Double Shit, Iain’s not here to blame. No problems, I’ve got plenty of time, I will just head home and then go to the airport from there – its almost faster to go on that tube line anyway.
My walk, turns to a brisk walk, then a jog. Get home walk in the door, shit. I haven’t printed out my boarding pass. I am travelling on peasant air. They are definitely going to make me pay more for that. Oh well, fail Kayleigh you’ll learn for next time. Turn on the computer to check in. Shit. Missed the cut off time for check in. 3 hours? Peasant air? Are you kidding me? Who knew there was a cut off time for check in! Oh no, more additional costs. Oh no, here come the tears.
After grabbing my passport and having a very hurried and irate conversation with Iain I run out of the house and head to the train station. As I get out of the tunnel, I check TFL (Transport for London) to see what time I am anticipating getting to St Pancras station to get the train to Luton Airport. Shit. ARE YOU KIDDING ME! All trains to Luton cancelled. Here I am now sitting on the tube balling my eyes out, my makeup is making me look like Alice Cooper, in a sauna and I am in such a state that the man sitting next to me has got up and moved. Cheers.
After a long discussion with the man at the station, he has decided that even a cab called by them is not going to get me there on time. So I call Iain and we decide that I’ll just get into a cab. It’s ok, travel insurance will cover it. The first cabbie I approach, looks at me with surprise and then his eyes light up. ‘It’s going to be £100’ he grins. “£100’!! That’s like $200 NZD, haha hilarious my friend, no really how much? I ring Iain. He confirms, ‘don’t worry babe insurance will definitely cover it’. Ok, go back to the stand, that taxi has gone, so I have to begin the haggle process again. Although the first attempt was more of a look of astonishment, rather than a proper financial negotiation. Second cabbie: It’ll be more than £100.
Me: Well can you do it for £100?
Second cabbie: Why?
Me: Cause it’s a sweet deal, what else are you going to do, sit in traffic all night?
Second cabbie: Cash?
Me: Um… yep… I don’t have any at the moment, but I’m sure I can find some…..
(Note: I didn’t have cash, nor did insurance did not cover it – doh.)
So as I arrived at Luton airport, I was watching the amount of the taxi tick over to £140, and my time tick down, I was close to admitting defeat. I ran inside, and up to the peasant airline man (maybe he worked for Whizz – I cannot confirm or deny), only to be told. Oh that gate closed 2 minutes ago. I burst into tears and in a very ‘I’m in a glass cage of emotion’ manner I waved my £100 taxi fare receipt in his face mumbling nothing in particular in a very unreasonable female way. He rushed me to another counter, who rushed me to another counter, who printed my ticket and checked me in for free (got to have some small wins) and rushed me into the security line. I still hadn’t stopped shaking as I collapsed in my seat on the plane between two gentlemen who were probably wondering why I hadn’t bothered taking off my coat, hat, gloves or scarf before I sat down for the 2 and a half hour flight.
As I arrived in Budapest, I thought, here we go, another joy ride to the hotel, who the heck is going to take me… and as I went to walk out the door there was a man with my name on his little board. Iain Phillips sometimes you out-do yourself. I could have hugged him - my new taxi driver, not Iain. Well he got a hug later, but in the mean time it was the best I could do. George took me home (by this stage it was 1am), he told me about his city and was very disappointed that the lights had all gone out by the time I had arrived, he was very sweet, and very proud of his city. It made me appreciate the effort to get there, like a tough win in a sports game, you feel like it is so much more deserved.
Anyway, I guess I haven’t left myself much room to talk about Budapest. It is awesome, no words that I can write will explain the magic of this city. Iain and I decided that it had to be in the top 5 cities we had been to. Big call, I know. Great architecture, great people, cheap activities, walkable, and so filled with patriotism and depth. There is something for everyone, walking up hills, thermal pools, amazing hotels, cheap cocktails, beautiful sights, river views and I don’t know if it was just because it was winter but hardly any people. Lovely. Majestic. A city for a return trip, maybe with a little less troublesome UK travel experience next time.