Hallo, unknown reader! I trust this blog post finds you well in your walk of life, that your Memorial Day was spent in a Memorialable Way and I am happy that you've decided to accompany me on yet another galavant through Eastern Europe. Which, by the by, are the most exciting sort of 'vant', that of the gala variety.
Our next destination in Eastern Europe was Budapest, and we arrived on Thursday night, the twenty fourth day of the fifth month in the year of the SkinnyJean, 2012 A.D.
Going into Budapest, Hungary, we had all heard and read phenomenal things, Shelton, Brad and I, mainly from reputable web forums like TexAgs. Ahem. Affordable, beautiful, historic, not too touristy. All around a must-see, for those that must see it.
After setting foot onto Hungarian soil, I found those adjectives mentioned in the previous paragraph to be supremely accurate. The city at night was a bustling expanse of activity. The major landmarks in Budapest, Parliament, the Castle, the Chain Bridge, were all fabulously lit by the same tone of yellow light, giving a regal glow to the ancient architecture. It truly was breathtaking. Like the time you walked up five flights of stairs because the elevator was on the fritz.
Which brings me to European's legs. Holy smokes do these folks have calves. And glutes. Bulbous calves and glutes on the whole. And yes, the majority of them, the vast majority, are in quite decent shape. No obesity that I've seen, even though their affinity for McDonald's mayo sauce is legendary.
More sidetracking now; the Euro cuisine is wholly delicate and protein laden, save for Vienna, where carbs were king. But I do see why Americans get a wrap for being heavy-set, because, well, we are. The Euro is a walker, the cities are walkable and attractions close, from what we've seen.
This is not to say that I don't miss my American brethren. I must confess to you, I do miss you, the past few nights I have been dreaming of arriving home again and smiling into your big chubby face.
But not yet, so yes, back to Budapest. We are here and here we are, driving in a taxi to the hotel we haven't booked yet, a boutique place called Art Otel. The Otel's name gives me arousal in the Ants. Maybe I'd find a Hungarian call girl by the bar to speak with about the modern art movement, as I mispronounced menu items and played coy little mixing/licking games with my espresso spoon.
Alas, that didn't happen, but we checked in, got our two bedroom gentlemen's suite, and were psyched to go out and meet the neighbors on a Thursday night. Budapest has two sides that are divided by the Danube river. I learned that swell tidbit within minutes of speaking with Atilla, the Hun-garian bell-boy. We were staying on Buda, but the action, he tells us, is over the Chain Bridge in Pest.
I like asking locals the whereabouts of 'the action.' It's vague and flimsy, like a giant wet tarp blanketing anything and everything you could ever imagine. The 'action' could be toothpaste. Could be high school girls. You just never know.
I am fairly uncertain this next fact has not been stated thus far, so I will state it now; Brad, whom is one third of our travelling contingent, is extremely adamant about everything. He's sure of it. He knows. Don't second-guess him, he'll eye roll you to death.
One of the items he is completely adamant about is his total and utter despise for any woman in a relationship with a man named Monty. He gets visibly angry when Shelton mentioned a girl he knows at work whom is dating a Monty. Brad nearly swallowed his espresso saucer.
I decide to inform the fellas of my blossoming collection of touristey magnets. They don't seem to care.
Brad opened up and confessed to us tonight. 'Guys, I've missed a lot of cool parties.'
Budapest clubs close when Budapest businesses open, apparently. We stayed out at a spot entitled 'Rumkert' until 6am yesterday, which ultimately, in hindsight, retrospect, looking back on it, was just a real strong idea. A lot of ideas sputter and die after conception, but not this one, we really rode the shit outta this one.
Budapest Clubs: humble pie served nightly.
The women in these clubs, the women, they, they certainly do know what to do with their women things. Did I go over the calves and the legs already? Moving on.
Budapest is the capital of Hungary and has the deserving nickname of the 'Paris of the East.' I can see why this name has been bestowed upon it. No I cannot. I've never been to the Paris of the West in the first place and have absolutely no grounds for calling Budapest in its namesake. But I do know this, my gently swaddled babies, Budapest is the most beautiful city we've visited thus far on our European Quest for Culture. We've seen the castle, Parliament, been to the spa, shot AK-47's and a Dragonov sniper rifle at the gun range.
Oh yes! The Budapest gun range. I don't shoot guns in America, absolutely loathe the things, but hearing we could shoot an AK-47 in Budapest sparked the interest. So we went to the underground bunker where they filmed the hit, pro-European travel films Hostel and Taken, as this was where the shadiest gun range in the world was housed.
After passing through a jail-cell electronically locked door, down a dingy hallway tall enough for a lollipop kid, we were shoved into a room with targets at one end and guns on a table at our end. Lots of guns. Pistols on the card table, machine guns against the wall. I was starting to rethink my decision-making prowess and exactly why this would spark my interest.
I actually recognized most of the guns from playing video games. M-16, 35 magnum, PP7 (Goldeneye fans rejoice!), AK-47 and a long sniper rifle, to name a few choice pieces.
I wasn't nervous. I was petrified. The instructor picked up each gun, gave a fact, showed how to shoot it, placement of thumbs, so forth and so on, and away we went, all the while the instructor standing next to us loading and handing off guns to us as we happily fired away at an outline of a cowboy on a piece of paper. How ironic.
To sum up the entire experience in sake of brevity: if we are at war, you and I, and we are on opposing sides of the war, so we are enemies, well, the closer you are to me, the less likely you are to be shot by me. Just come right up to me, say hello, and let me rattle off a clip at you. I might graze your backpack strap. If I'm lucky. But you will be unharmed, I'm sure of it, and then you will kill me for shooting your new backpack strap off.
But, if you are a mile away, in the back seat of a miniscule clown-car, buried underneath Sniggles, Giggles, and Jiggles the Clowns, with only your left eye exposed between polka dot parachute pant ruffles and whigs and other clowny things, know this: you're already dead.
I shot the Dragonov sniper rilfe three times, at a miniscule target fifty yards away. All three shots connected with the target, within a half-inch of one another, grouped inside the smallest inside circle surrounding the bulls-eye. One was a dead-on bulls-eye.
I felt like a man for the first time since Willhelm massaged my temples in Viennna.
The next event was Budapest's largest, most commercial spa. It was more like a massive, Vegas-style pool, with all walks and races of life splashing about, probably emptying insane amounts of urine in that warm water tank.
We happened to start a conversation with a few gents from England. These buggers, these crikey buggers, they could drink. A scraggly bunch the lot of them, and terribly unsightly to gaze upon, but awfully talented in the sport of drinking. They told us to goto Helsinki. Scandinavia. They swore it up and down, left and right. Brad's eyes lit up at this recommend. If I have learned anything of my old friend and travel companion, it's that he loves a local recommend. It's the only recommend he adheres to. I could see this Helsinki suggestion struck not one chord, but a few, and that's always nice because chords need striking every once in awhile.
Lord knows I could use a good ol' chord striking soon, heavens to betsies, well Mikey I'll bite, I surely do.
After we finished at the spa, our triumvirate deemed this Otel worthy of washing our dirty undies, so we gave them three heapfuls and were told we'd have them back by the following day. The bill for such a service, as we found out after the fact, was 300 United States Dollars. Three. Hundred.
Each one of us could have purchased a new wardrobe for that kind of fare. Never has our contingent been so thoroughly embarrassed.
And with that stiff shot to our collective nutsacks, we bid Budapest adieu.
Leaving Budapest, I feel like we really gave a valiant college try, you see, to blow every last dollar we owned there.
But wait! One more nugget from our excursion in Hungary. On Saturday night, around the hour of two in the morning, I found myself running as fast as I could through the city of Budapest, not for fun, mind you, but for my life.
Brad was by my side but Shelton was not. He was lost. We would worry about him later, once we were safe.
We were running away from a disagreement. In the face of foreign adversity, when we were confronted with a ridiculous predicament that was simply out our control, we surveyed our options, watched a large Hungarian man bark into a phone and point at us, another stern-faced Hungarian hulk approaching from the shadows, and an irate Hungarian hussy yelling for us to do as she said, we realized the only thing we could possibly do, the only option to exercise, was to run.
I've never been the fastest, but then again, I've never had to haulass from Hungarians. Brad and I in our tight pants, running through the streets of Budapest, jumping in a cab, lying flat on the backseat, disappearing into Hungary.
This memory, I will always have.
As for the details of the events preceeding and perhaps instigating our chase through Budapest, unfortunately, I cannot divulge at this time.
I must save something, you see, for the movie I intend to write based on these very travels. Some of the very bestest nuggets I simply must hold on to for that monumentous occasion.
Goodbye for now, unknown reader, Salzburg awaits.