Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
When my friend Mary-Alice and I trekked around the world, we ended up being totally broke in Hungary. We had money before and money after, but in Hungary we were paupers. I am guessing our parents bailed us out, but Budapest just brings back memories of a stale crust of bread and a lot of walking.
Looking back, I really don’t know why we were so broke there. Are there no ATMs in Budapest? Did we spend it all on boos and goulash? I have no idea. What I do know is that our lack of money forced us to break the law. Tired as can be, we really wanted to take a cable car down this humungous hill, but we had zero cash. So we made up an elaborate scheme to shimmy under the turnstiles and hop on the car without paying.
As I subtly crawled under the turnstile and Mary-Al did her very best distraction song and dance, the 200 pound stout woman who ran the place looked down just as I was mid crawl. With the furry of Satan’s handmaidens, she started screaming in Hungarian and coming at me with her arms extended. Visions of her squeezing my head till it popped off flashed before my eyes as I backed up on all fours, stood up, and obeyed Mary-Alice’s ingenious command of “RUUUUUUNNNNN!”
We headed down that hill as fast as our impractical travel sandals could take us all while turning our heads to see if the thunderous Hungarian roar was hot on our trail. She was not. We were exhausted and broke, but we were not beaten up or arrested.
Did I learn any life lessons from this? Ehh, sure. Don’t break the law. It is wrong. But I still waited till I had $19 in my bank account to fly home that summer. And I had a blast because of it. As we all know, fun and money are not always linked and sometimes being a broke backpacker with no common sense is the most fun of all.
The charming cable cars of Budapest. Just not meant to be...
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010
Rain. Vodka. Baby Land. Security pulling our legs – literally. A synchronized pantomime to Celine Dion. These are the memories that come flooding back to me when I think about my trip across the Aegean Sea with my wonderful partner in crime Mary-Alice. It was the summer we decided to drop everything (including our boyfriends) and travel across land and sea from Hong Kong to Paris. Clearly we had a few mishaps along the way. But when I look back, all I can remember is the good stuff. Isn’t selective memory lovely that way?
One of the most r.i.d.i.c.u.l.o.u.s. legs of our trip was when we took a boat from Athens to the idyllic island of Santorini. As it is rather expensive to travel from Hong Kong to Paris we tried to do everything as cheaply as possible. This included crawling under turnstiles at a cable car station, being chased by a mustachioed woman from Budapest, me trying to forge my Eurail pass and being threatened with jail time, and a slew of other completely idiotic and often times illegal moves. So with this mentality, when we were faced with a boat across the Aegean, Mary-Al and I decided that we didn’t need to pay for a bed because we were going to stay up all night long partying on deck and would be so drunk that sleeping on a cold plastic bench outdoors would be fun! And it might have been a real rocking good time if the skies hadn’t broken into a torrential all-night-long downpour from hell.
At first vodka took care of our pain. Some creepy Dutch tourists gave us an entire bottle of Absolute and we were very very excited to warm our hearts with the blinding elixir. But a few hours later we were frozen, exhausted and preparing for horrific hangovers. If we had slept outside, I would probably be floating in the Aegean. Thank god we had the genius idea to break into “Baby Land” the children’s daycare center, and fall asleep inside a plastic castle. But we were soon kicked out. So we took to passing out in hallways in front of the broiler room, stranger’s cabins, and a few other comfy looking nooks. Security tried to drag us away, but we persisted, literally holding onto the rug and making fake snoring noises. And wouldn’t you know it, they finally gave up. What a wonderful staff!
Here we are hiding illegally under the sturdy plastic roof on the deck. It would have been so warm and cozy here! If only we had paid the $15 extra.
Ahhhh, here we go. Random man, bottle of vodka, incredibly drunken expression. And this was about 12 hours before we made our getaway to Baby Land for a little snooze.