Sometimes when you travel, you just have one of those days where everything seems like such a struggle. Having a heavy backpack strapped to your back complete with dangling trekking boots, a day pack on your front, a handbag and a shoe bag full of toiletries just gets well… too much.
Then having to find the bus terminal, figuring out how to get to your next destination with no timetable, no signs and just a load of locals who shrug when you ask them in pidgin Spanish.
Finding out which bus you need then figuring out when you need to get off, complete with carrying all your bags back down the bus without hitting any of the locals on the head, before the bus takes off again.
Being told something too quick in Spanish by the Immigration officer that you simply do not understand. Is he saying you can't get into the country or you need to pay them money? Then feeling relieved when he takes pity on your blank, tired face that is feeling woosy from the long bus ride.
Tired, aching and exhausted from the constant heat, dehydrated from fear of no toilet stops on your journey that you didn't even know how long would take and feeling like you've just had enough. After eight hours; one transfer, one shared taxi, one immigration crossing and three chicken buses you arrive at your intended destination (and this is noted as a ‘free' day on your itinerary!)
So as the sun sets on a day that I would rather forget, I need to remember that tomorrow is another day…
As a reminder to myself for my next trip – don't bring so many notepads and books and take Spanish lessons beforehand!
My Day in Budapest
It all sounds so great doesn’t it! You can just imagine your friends saying: ‘oh so and so's gone away for a few days – lucky her!’
And before you go, you feel incredibly lucky. You board the plane, you get excited about where you’re going to stay and what you’re going to see first: then you get there. It may be plain sailing to get to your accommodation or it may throw up some challenges but you overcome them and it doesn’t dampen your excitement.
You check in, you decide to skip the nightclub in the hotel as you suddenly feel very tired and you try and sleep through the constant thudding of the base and screams from people enjoying themselves.
You wake up the next day after broken sleep but you’re raring to go, you enlist the help of the hostel staff to point you in the right direction for the sightseeing bus and as you’re walking towards the pick up point, it comes out of nowhere and hits you straight in the solar plexus.
You hadn’t seen it before, but then it was dark when you arrived, but now in the daylight: it feels like you’re in London, but a weirder version of your home city. Local men are looking at you in a strange manner and people everywhere are holding hands, couples are kissing and looking all cosy and you instantly feel alone!
It’s happened before and I have no doubt that it will definitely happen again, but you forget what it feels like until it returns with a bang. I am fine by myself, I have no problems eating in restaurants, having a drink in a bar or even going to the theatre alone but I have to be in the right frame of mind. If I’m not: I want to run back to my hostel and hide under a duvet.
Admittedly there are couples all over the world, but I only ever see them when I’m not part of one and when I really don’t need to be seeing them. There’s not that many downsides to travelling solo, but this unfortunately is one of them.
Some places just aren’t meant for singles and the ones that I have discovered are modern day cities: romantic cities which are just made for pairs. Budapest is one of them, and as much as I can try and shake off that lonely feeling, as long as I’m here I’m sure it’s not going to go away.
So, I have to keep telling myself that it’s only one more day until I meet my friend and I can get through it. After all, I’m not technically here for pleasure (not until the weekend anyway). And as much as I want to stay in my room and feel sorry for myself, I am going to face this thing full on, put on some make up and glitz myself up and go to the nightclub (that is only downstairs), and have my best night in Budapest!
A Drunk in Vienna
The stench of booze was oozing out of his pores. I backed away removing myself from his beer swilling hand that looked as though it may tip at any moment.
‘Got 50 cent?’ he asked in English.
I looked closer at this middle-aged man wearing a singlet and holding a can of beer. He resembled more of a drunk Brit lost in Vienna than someone who was homeless. I continued trying to work out the Austrian ticket machine after politely shaking my head.
Was the machine saying I needed a single ticket? Did I have the right station? I glanced at my map making sure I was looking for the right place.
He was still there.
‘Just 50 cent for something to eat,’ he asked.
‘I don’t have 50 cent,’ I replied, thinking that I wasn’t going to give my lack of cash to this drunken bum who had blatantly just stumbled out of a pub.
I was growing frustrated at the ticket machine and the man who would not go away. Why had I booked a hostel that was clearly out of town instead of being dropped off at the city hostel? Was the £4 saving really worth lugging my backpack around the city?
‘You must have 50 cent,’ he persisted.
‘Look mate,’ I said, the anger apparent in my voice. ‘You’ve probably got more money than me so please go away,’ my patience wearing incredibly thin.
‘I could show how to use the ticket machine for 50 cent.’
‘Just go away,’ I said rudely as he invaded my personal space even closer.
‘Where are you from?’ he asked.
I tried the silent tactic hoping that he would get the hint. His presence was in no way threatening but more of an annoyance than anything.
‘You from England?’ he asked then answered his own question to my amusement. ‘No, your accent is too weird for that. Australia?’ He paused, deep in thought. ‘No not there.’
‘Eureka,’ I wanted to yell as I finally figured out the ticket machine and my ticket came flying into the collection box.
He was now dangerously close to where my change was about to burst out of and in that split second I did something I was not proud off. As my change came bursting out the machine like I’d won the jackpot, I shoved him out of the way and grabbed my money.
‘Aggressive!’ I heard him calling behind me as I made it through the entrance.
‘Hello Vienna’ I thought to myself as the train pulled up on the platform.
N.b I am usually such a placid person and I regularly give money to people on the streets but this man was clearly not one and I didn’t encounter any other person begging for money during my stay in Vienna. In fact, it is an amazing and beautiful city…
Have you ever done anything you're not proud off?