Tag Archives: Tourism

Budapest Metro is an underground sketch comedy from hell.

In late January and early February 2011 I spent eight days in Budapest. I hated the city and almost everything about it – it was just replete with scum who would literally do anything for a dollar. On every other street corner you had a hustler or a beggar or an alleged drug dealer peddling Daz washing powder as if it were cocaine fit for Hunter S. Thompson in his prime. The highlight was a Tesco and a ‘cinema hostel’ I stuck around at for the banter, i.e., alcohol and movies. I still meet up with (now) close pals I made on that trip, and we are all in agreement that the metro was, as Alex DeLarge would put it, a real horror show.

306453_10150797955890691_1579151984_nI’d never until that trip seen such shamelessly corrupt ‘authority figures’ as I did their ticket inspectors. They’d swagger around in packs – they reminded me of the Toon Patrol weasels from Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) – the ugliest, shortest, most unshaven specimens you’ll ever witness wearing a uniform. If it were the early 1940s they’d be volunteering for a stint in a death camp. Weirdly, so many of them were the spitting image of Georgy Zhukov. I took about 25 metro journeys during my time on the Danube, and on each occasion was privy to these mutants harassing half the train. I had the impression most of them were mentally compromised individuals on work experience. If you’re expecting commuters to be deferential, though, at least try and look like you’ve not just crawled out of bed.

 

Anyway, there is a film about them called Kontroll (2003), and it essentially sums up these plonkers, with a bit of magical realism thrown in. I saw it the other day and it impresses. Budapest Metro is apparently the oldest electrified subway network on the continent … which is just great. I’d have the staff replaced by robots.

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The movie is good, though, and better than the real thing (a common occurrence).

Further reading/viewing:

https://welovebudapest.com/en/2015/11/10/kontroll-issues-budapests-public-transport-ticket-inspectors/

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/kontroll-2005

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It was all kicking off in Albufeira.

Albufeira in the southern Algarve is more or less a cliche, one of those tourist resorts you see on postcards. There are lots of things for the kids to do, yet mummy and daddy can still get pished and look respectable.

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Albufeira was funny. It wasn’t funny in a Jerry Lewis sense or a so-weird-it’s-funny sense. I found it amusing because it’s exactly how I pictured the standard ‘Brits abroad’ retreat. And boy was there a retreat (more on that shortly).

The early flight in and subsequent shuttle from Faro to our cheeky hotel (the Muthu Oura Praia) was the only experience one could deem as ‘fresh’. Booze-free, I envisaged the adventures ahead, and the accompanying snappage.

Mateus.

It kind of descended into carnage shortly afterwards, the sweet taste of Mateus hitting my lips like the forbidden fruit in the garden. It’s not a complete blur from here on in, but days and events I find hard to place linearly. They blend into one another, a jigsaw narrative the result. I was truly reeking on this holiday.

The Balcony.

So much time was spent on here and so much gibberish chat the result. The Balcony is the trip’s ‘Constant’ and centrepiece. It’s suprising how much fun doing nothing can be. I even took a snap of a mop because I thought I was being arty.

Riots. 

Hordes of British tourists making a racket and just generally annoying everyone, cops breaking up a brawl by firing rubber bullets and unleashing the batons. From a distance I thought it was Isis. I panicked, bolted into someone’s garden and fell on their rabbit hutch. I arrived back to the hotel four hours later, still steaming, for a nightmarish sleep involving all manner of weaponry. This is the news item here:

http://www.theportugalnews.com/news/riot-police-fire-rubber-bullets-in-albufeira/42374

Vin Diesel.

Is this Vin Diesel? He was in the hotel pool area trying to troubleshoot a malfunctioning umbrella. The Fast and the Furious: Brolly Bantz (2017).

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A truly silly little trip this was. Next time I’m wearing a bodycam to piece together a more coherent picture.

 

 

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Return to Malta.

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Sliema. 

I actually saw some of Malta this time. It was another story two years ago, my most salient memory then of pissing my pants mid-conversation with a lesbian volleyball player from Berlin. It wasn’t because she was particularly amusing; I just forgot to physically transport myself to the bathroom (ah, those were the glorious melted days). Anyway, I was on a quest to right my wrongs. I didn’t pack nappies but made an executive decision to cut back on the Southern Comfort.

In Malta, buildings are yellow. I don’t know why this is. Regardless, yellow contact lenses will accompany you throughout your stay. You may even listen to ‘Colours’ by Donovan when the time feels appropriate.


More yellow was found on the rooftops. Puffing an e-cig on the hotel roof whilst watching a documentary about the Battle for Malta in WWII is officially my best breakfast yet of 2017. I imagined some wee local ducking under a deckchair as a Stuka dive bomber flew overhead circa 1941, and thanked the heavens I was born in the ’80s.

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Low point:

Listening to a musical troupe of Irish women on a ‘hen’ trip strangling the proverbial Bagpuss each morning with synchronised ‘singing’ was not enjoyable. I meet them once, scowling at the creatures in the hallway on the Friday morning. I hear them, though. A lot. Absolute racket. How and why hotels tolerate such species I will never know. My ears bleed so much my legs begin to get affected. I hop in a taxi to the pub.

 

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A hero taxi driver rescuing me from the ‘singing’. 

Highlight:

The Saturday was vaguely cinematic. I felt like one of those alienated characters in an Antonioni movie as I walked around the island with a bottle of water and a hip flask. I didn’t have a conversation with a single person, and I didn’t mind. I arrived back to the hotel and smoked a cheap cigar on the balcony before napping under the sunset. One of life’s little moments of pretension … punished immediately with mosquito bites. My leg is that of a leper for the next week. Peaks and valleys and all that.

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