Caving in Budapest...

Budapest Travel Blog

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Well, I finally made it to Budapest, still surprised that I made it out of that awful train station in Bratislava alive and with all of my belongings (I think…)

But after missing the train and having to wait 4 hours for the next one, I arrived really late at night with no hostel booking. I had one random brochure for a hostel that wasn’t too far from the station, so I headed there despite the fact that it didn’t look too appealing to me being an “Australian” hostel… I just needed to get somewhere fast cos it was almost midnight and I wasn’t sure about reception hours in Hungary.

So, I arrived there to a semi friendly/semi hostile welcome from a power tripping receptionist at the hostel over the intercom. Once I went inside though, he was all smiles and pretty much didn’t leave me alone for the rest of the night. Ugh. I was trying to put a long day behind me and all I wanted was to sit quietly alone and write my blogs and listen to music, but he just kept trying to start conversations for hours. Ugh. Take a hint from my one word responses man!!! I couldn’t sleep cos I’ve had a lot on my mind the last few days, but I was tempted to go lay in silence in my room just to get away from him. Drainer. Finally he went to sleep in the other room and I was in peace until 5am when I was finally close to being able to sleep. I was shocked at how quiet the hostel was for a Saturday night, but was actually ok with that for once, wasn’t in the mood for people in general. I guess being away for so long and sharing dorms with so many people every now and then I crave some personal space and want everyone out of my face. Especially with my brain and emotions working in overdrive so much the last few days.

Anyway, finally got about 3 hours sleep and then I was up and ready to hit the town. Had planned out the day on my map, everything marked since I had no sense of direction at all after arriving in the dark. So, walked to my first destination - the Danube River. I find the water so peaceful and relaxing, so had planned my day so that I could pretty much follow the river all day detouring off to see the sights but following the river pretty much the whole day. So anyway, detoured off to my first Church of the day, and somewhere between the river and the Church I lost my map. Ugh. There goes my plans. But I figured, most were pretty big sights, so I tried as best I could to seek them out the whole way along the river. I actually ended up doing pretty well considering my notoriously bad sense of direction (where are you when I need you Justin! LOL!!!) Saw some great sights… The parliament building is amazing, it’s huge and the security there is intense. There’s loads of Churches around, Má tyá s Templom, Halá szbá stya and heaps more. The castle is beautiful too, I stayed up there for hours, a couple of which I spent sitting looking out over the river reading. It was nice, so tranquil (except for the noisy tourists which I just tuned out after a while…) and helped me clear my head a little.

In the evening I went back to the hostel only to find that I really was staying at the most boring hostel on earth, and of the small amount of people there, the last person went to bed before 11pm. It was nuts, I mean, It’s the weekend, nobody has to work, and everyone is still so unexciting. Oh well, 2 quiet nights in a row never hurt anyone I guess. Probably good for me to try to get some sleep… Not that I did. I mean, I tried, but just couldn’t. But eventually I went to bed at some ridiculous time in the morning just to escape annoying-reception-guy, and as I needed things to get worse, I got attacked by bedbugs during the night. UGH!!!

I had already booked a different hostel for the following night which looked somewhat more interesting, and was a little closer to the city centre… So in the morning I packed up and got out as soon as I could. I wanted to go caving so I had to be organised, plus I just really wanted to get out of there. Moved to my new hostel, dumped my bags and went to check out more of the city. It’s an interesting place, some parts are really nice and others seem kind of sketchy, like the train stations… But I guess as long as I’m not hanging around train stations for hours at a time (like in Slovakia!) then I have felt safe the whole time.

So anyway… CAVING!!!

I was really excited to try caving, I’ve never done it before but a few friends have done it here in Budapest and all have said it’s fabulous fun (ok, they didn’t say fabulous, but you get the point!!!) So, booked a spot and went to meet the group, there were some really cool people there. The trip out to the caves was random to say the least… We met under a dodgy staircase at a bus stop outside a train station… And then we got a bus out to some suburban bus stop where we got off in what seemed like the middle of nowhere and then got another bus out to what was DEFINITELY the middle of nowhere, walked along a dead road and then into a house where we handed over cash and got geared up (check out the photo’s… Our outfits were H.O.T.T!!!!!) signed our lives away on the waivers, and trekked through the dirt to the cave entrance.

They gave us the whole spiel about staying together, communicating, and all that jazz, and split us into 2 groups cos there was so many of us. My group went last, so we stood out in the rain freezing our butts off until the other group had disappeared. We had to climb down a huge ladder, and of course I was the first one down, never shy away from a challenge…

The next 3 hours was intense to say the least… It starts out fairly easy, walking and crawling for the first few minutes… But after a while the space starts to disappear, and next things you now you’re slithering on your stomach and squeezing through holes that you never thought would be possible. Looking at some of them I was so sure that I was not going to make it through, and we always had to stay in the same order so I always had to go through first. At one point I had to get through a hole at ground level smaller than any we had gone through yet… it was hilarious… I go through with my arms straight ahead of me, and felt my helmet wedge in between the rocks… that’s how small the spaces were, my helmet would not fit through… Me being me, I was like “f**k… stupid f**king helmet is stuck… eeeek” while laughing at myself (and hearing everyone else killing themselves laughing behind me, but a little to the left and it was dislodged again… Ok, so at this point it might not sound like fun to some of you, but maaaaaaaan, it was a thrill… After I got through that the guy behind me went one better and got his butt stuck… now THAT was funny!!! A few times during the day there were points where you could choose the easy way or the hard way, and I was surprised that a few people weaked out and took the easy way, but each to their own I guess. There was one point though, that everyone had heard of… “The Sandwich”… We were all waiting for it, and finally we reached it… I don’t even know how to explain this little stretch of cave… Imagine lying on your stomach on a rock, and there’s another layer of rock right above you, with just enough room to turn your head and look at the others behind you… Anyway, The Sandwich was one of those points where you could choose to go through or walk around the long way… Only 4 of us were game to go through (3 of us were girls!!! Ok, shutup boys, I know that girls are smaller and bendier, but let me enjoy it!!!) Anyway… the guide explains that he’s going to take the rest of the group around the easy way, and we’re going to go through alone… And then he gives me directions about how to navigate us through to the other side. I was expecting simple directions like “just go straight ahead”… No… The directions went for 5 minutes and included things like “you’ll get to a wall, and there’s a hole at the bottom… Don’t go through that hole, put your arm up left and you’ll find another hole…” And many other confusing things… But we dived in anyway (literally!!!) and figured we’d find our way through… Only took a minute to forget everything we’d been told, but we got through fine!!! We were doing so well that we actually went a little too far and the other group had to catch up! Anyway, fun, fun, fun!!!

After it was all over they’re smart enough to have a bar right next to the caving place, so our whole group went and had a beer or 2 before heading back. In our excitement nobody had really payed too much attention to which way we had walked and where we had to get on and off buses, so it was a shamble of seven of us pretty much guessing our way back to town. Luckily at least one person had a sense of direction, if I was alone I would’ve been sleeping in the caves for the night!!! And really, after sleeping in a cave in Turkey in comfort, it’s not something I need to do again on this trip!!!

So, we found our way back ok in the end and all headed back to our varied hostels, I think that everyone had the same thoughts in their head… Hot shower! A couple of us arranged to meet up later that night for some more drinks.

By the time we met up it was about midnight, but we headed to a bar anyway and sat drinking beer and “shooting the sh!t” (my new favourite expression), trading travelling tales and laughing about the days efforts. At the bar I ran into a couple of the guys that we had been out drinking with in Bratislava too (did I mention what a small world backpacking is… Just to top it off, another of the guys that we had been hanging out and watching hockey and eating poutine with was in Budapest also, but despite trying to catch up we didn’t end up meeting, but I’ll get to that later.

Next day I woke up with the nastiest flu I’ve had in a long time… I don’t get sick often, and I’ve been pretty lucky so far while travelling. It sucks getting sick away from home. Nobody to make you hot tea and vegetable soup and tell you that everything is going to be ok. As it turned out, everyone in my hostel seemed to have the same flu. Ugh! And on top of that I was trying to deal with some nasty bites from some very hostile bedbugs at my last hostel. Ugh. And, I woke up feeling like I had spent four or five hours at the gym from the workout we got caving. Good way to start the day! But I headed out anyway, I wanted to leave the next day so it was my last chance to see the city one more time. Spent the day in typical me-style… Walking for about 8 hours looking at churches and architecture, parks and stuff like that. Just pretty much being a tourist. Went to have a look at the Old Synagogue, they have a nice memorial, a museum, and a Jewish Cemetery there which was all very interesting stuff. By the time I was done with sightseeing and had bought a ticket to Serbia for the next day, I was absolutely exhausted and ready for bed. Well, not quite for bed, but ready to go and slump at the hostel being anti-social for the evening. So I didn’t end up meeting up with anyone that I was supposed to, but to be honest I really wasn’t up for it.

Got up early and got my stuff together, with my disastrous public transport run lately I wanted to get to the station early to make sure I didn’t miss my connection. Took me about an hour to walk there which meant that I was an hour early, that was all good… After waiting a lifetime for the platform to come up on the screen I went and sat for a coffee in a café at the station to kill some time. Hands up if you know why I don’t wear a watch??? Answer: Cos I’m an idiot!!! I was sitting very distracted by my French phrasebook (I’m trying very hard to learn some French right now, it’s such a sexy language…) so I’m sitting at my table talking to myself when I thought I should check my phone for messages… Switched on my phone and looked at the time… Eeeeeek… It was 13:18... And my train was leaving at 13:20... Crap!

Paid my bill, grabbed my bags and ran for my life!!! I haven’t seen myself run with my bags on, but it must be a hilarious sight… My big pack is as big as me, and if I had long enough to turn and look around I’m sure there would have been a lot of amused faces. But I definitely didn’t have time to turn around!!! By some miracle I made my train, and here I am, sitting typing my blog and wondering how I’m going to kill the next 7 hours of my life on this train. I think I’ll go back to learning French.

So, until I write some more in Serbia…

Au Revoir,

Miss you all… 22 days til I land in Oz!!!





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photo by: Chokk