As I’ve mentioned before, back in September last year, Stacey and I decided to go on a last minute, last ditch trip to Budapest. The reasons why are kinda silly, and involve a band (yes, Los Campesinos!) and two girls going back to uni.
The first girl going back to Uni was Stace – having left St Andrews the year before after realising her course was not what she wanted to be doing, she’d been accepted on a part-time LLB course here in Edinburgh. The second girl going back to Uni was Harriet – one of the members of LC!. Harriet had decided to give up being a full-time violinist and vocalist in a band and return to her studies. It sounds a little ridiculous, but when we heard that Harriet would be leaving LC!, Stace was somewhat gutted – she’d always had a bit of a crush on her, and admired her musical talent. Anyway – long story short – Harriet’s last gig with the band was due to be in Budapest, about two weeks after the announcement. It coincided with the week that Stacey’s new course started.
The night we found out Harriet would be leaving after the Budapest gig, I sat on my laptop and tried to work out if it would be feasible for Stace and I to go to the city to see them play. Now, let me say just here that I’d visited Budapest before and loved it, and would have happily taken Stacey there even if the band hadn’t been playing – but the LC! gig kinda just gave us an excuse to go – especially because we haven’t been able to go away for any significant length of time since, as Stacey has class and work which she can’t miss. Eventually, I found that there was no way I could afford (either money-wise or time-wise) to pay for flights from Edinburgh to Budapest and back again for us both. However, I found that by flying Edinburgh to Bratislava, and then getting a train to Budapest I could just about make it work. Admittedly, we then had to fly back from Bratislava to Birmingham and get a train back to Edinburgh – but it was really worth it.
Once we’d booked flights and trains and time off work and ordered Hungarian Florins from the Post Office, the hardest thing was not telling everyone that we were going. We’d decided to keep it quiet because it really was so last minute, and because we were supposed to be saving money, not going on jaunts half-way across Europe. Add to that the fact that we both have had quite a lot of chat with the guys from the band (mainly on Twitter), and it entertained us both that we could just rock up at the venue and say ‘hello, bet you didn’t expect to see us here’.
So VERY early one morning, we arrived at Edinburgh airport to fly to Bratislava. The (urgh, Ryanair) flight went fairly quickly, and we managed to get a bus to the Bratislava train station, buy cheap train tickets to Budapest (if you fancy doing this yourself, DO NOT buy train tickets online. a), They’re much cheaper if you buy them at the station on the day and b) everyone spoke English so we even got told which trains we should get). A 2 hour train journey later, we were in Budapest and finding our hostel for the next few nights!
We spent the next day exploring different bits of Budapest, smoking super-cheap European cigarettes and drinking super-cheap European beer, discovering the differences between UK and Hungarian McDonalds and generally just enjoying each other’s company. Budapest is a wonderful city, it was September and still really warm, people were friendly and we never felt like we were being judged for being a lesbian couple either.
Of particular note were the love-heart locks on the bridges across the Danube river – the little messages were so sweet and whilst I have seen similar in Paris and in other cities, it was so lovely to see them here too. Were we tempted to add out own? A little, yeah…
We also went to one of the amazing Hungarian bath houses which are dotted across Budapest – we went to the Gellert Baths, and can recommend hugely. There were hot pools and warm baths, saunas (both inside and outside), plunge pools and public swimming pools, including a HUGE outdoor pool with sun loungers by it. It was September and remarkably wintery in Edinburgh, but in Budapest we were in swimming costumes sat round a pool! Bliss.
Then we headed back to where we were staying, got changed and made our way to the TrafÛ Centre of Contemporary Arts where LC! were playing. Hanging about in the lobby before the doors were open, I spotted Gareth Campesinos! and managed to grab his arm to say hello. (I’m sure that Stacey would interject here, and say that I did not ‘say hello’. I actually grabbed his arm and said ‘Hey – don’t I know you from somewhere’?’ Yes, I am really that girl.) Anyway, Gareth recognised / remembered us and we had a quick chat about why we were in Budapest, what we’d been up to and how the band was doing. As I said later, it’s not often that you get to walk into a venue with the lead singer of the band that you’e there to see!
Sadly, as we found out, Harriet actually had to miss the gig, which meant that all of our plans to see her final performance were thwarted. However, chat with the guys later told us that her uni term had started and she really couldn’t get away – which is completely understandable. After the gig (which was great fun) we even managed to get invited for a drink with the band at one of the cities ‘ruined bars’ (seriously, they’re bloody amazing) where we had lots of chat, lots of beer and eventually managed to wander home.
The next day we wandered a little more, before heading back to the train station, back to Bratislava and then on a flight back to the UK. We made it to our little Premier Inn in Birmingham and slept like babies, before getting up and getting a train back to Edinburgh. I guess it was something of a hassle to go to just for three days in a city, but do you know what? It was three days with my girl doing something that no one knew we were doing – and it was great fun. I’d organise another last minute, ‘why the hell not’ trip in a heartbeat.
If you’ve been to Budapest, please let us know how you found it – and f you’re planning on going and want advise, just leave a comment and I’ll try and help, if I can!