I’ve been on a soul searching mission to Budapest for the last 10 days so I thought I’d least pop up a post for practically the entire planet not to read. I’ve come for a number of reasons, not least for a holiday, but mostly just to hang out with myself, something I haven’t done in a while. I mean I like myself and all, but I took some convincing that I was the right person to go away with. In the end I settled the debate with a good old fashioned game of rock paper scissors, which considering I was competing with myself proved one thing at least – that I needed a good holiday.
I’ve been here before, twice, and I’ve yet to get a handle on the place. It’s obviously a beautiful city with all the requisite requirements; amazing architecture, stunning women and cheap beer, but I still find it the most alien of places I’ve ever been (and remember, I used to go to college in Dundalk). Simple acts like ordering food, buying metro tickets, and explaining to the police why your pants just happened to fall down outside the local school aren’t easy when you’re a simple Irish folky with barely enough English let alone Hungarian to get by. But that was my mission. Avoid anywhere that had stag parties. Avoid anywhere that advertised a ‘tourist menu.’ Avoid schools within a mile radius of a police station. Instead I ate in working men’s cafeterias. I drank in only bars that had a dog at the bar. A school is a school though.
Sure I went to the Citadel and walked around the Castle District, and I paraded my milky skin to all and sundry at many of the outdoor baths, but it was snowing, so I may have gotten away unnoticed. I tried conversations with the locals, some went well, and others didn’t (long story). I went to local markets and bought pink meaty stuff that could literally have been anything and cooked it in my apartment. I ate giant sausages with suspicious origins. I sat in small cafes and read books and watched people do their stuff. And again, it all felt good. I also did something I wanted to do for a long time, I wrote a particular short story, and then I mailed a friend of mine (coincidentally, a Hungarian) who used to produce a soap opera here and suggested we get together and do something with it. It’s about this guy who goes to Budapest see, and hangs around outside schools and the like.
People go away all the time. Some go with friends, family and loved ones. Some go on business, but some spend their time in an airport hotel, with only a stamp on their passport and an in-flight magazine as a memory. And then some go to exorcise ghosts, some go to get away from it all and some because it’s something to do. I guess I did all of the above, and I guess I’ll do it again. Cos when you’re haunted by something, there’s generally always a ghost to get rid of.
And sometimes getting away from it all makes you realise that.
I’m home on Friday though, which means curry night and the Late Late.