Mizzou Collides with Budapest

Traveling long-term includes a conscious decision to push through exhaustion and continue forward with exploration, socializing and general traveling fun. When on short-term trips, you have the capacity and energy to travel 100% all day every day because you know that you can crash when you get home. Long-term travel is a different case – and I figured that out on my eighth day in Bulgaria.

Besides my illness in Spain, I sacrificed no moment to sleep in or to excessively relax. Yes, I maximized my time in each location. But also, yes, I wore myself out. I had to spend a full day sleeping at Dilyana’s apartment to recuperate. The next night I caught a night train back to Belgrade and it was even less pleasant than my ride to Sofia. Dilyana and I had a very dramatic goodbye as we held hands through the window as the train pulled away – real Hollywood staged best friend stuff. Meeting up with friends in Bulgaria was the last planned encounter I had for the remained of the trip. From here on out, I was winging it by myself.

Until the next morning when my train arrived in Belgrade. I got off, had a coffee and connected to wifi. The first thing I saw in Facebook was that it was my friend Anthony’s birthday, and that a mutual Mizzou friend of ours had posted on his wall to have fun in Budapest for the weekend. Anthony was doing a summer journalism study in Prague and had decided to spend his 21st birthday weekend in Budapest. I sent him a message to see if he was in Budapest, he instantly replied that he was, so I hopped on another train to head to Budapest to meet up with him for his birthday.

About 7 hours later, bringing my total train time in 24 hours to around 16 hours, I arrived in Budapest and greeted Anthony at his hostel. It was so bizarre to be around a good friend from Mizzou while in Budapest, but even more bizarre to be surrounded by Americans in Europe. Traveling wtih Anthony were 11 other Mizzou students. Girls had on t-shirts with greek letters, others wore sperries, and everyone spoke of mutual friends and Mizzou related things that I had not thought about in half a year. This was my first dapple with reverse culture shock – and I felt like a foreigner with students from my own home university.

Despite how awkward I felt socially with the group, it was a really enjoyable and spontaneous encounter with Anthony. We went out to dinner for his birthday and the waitress was very accommodating in delivering him a surprise slice of birthday cake. Over dinner we had lots to talk about – and it was great to hear about the semester that I missed. That was when it hit me: things changed. Relationships ended. People scored great new internships, others dropped out of college. Names flooded my head and I had to really work to keep up with everything Anthony told me about because though it had only been a few months, what he was talking about seemed like a lifetime ago.

After dinner the group went out but I headed back to Anthony’s hostel to pick up my backpack and find  a hostel because his was booked. I still wasn’t feeling 100% so I opted to take an easy night. From the iPad I found the closest hostel, booked a room, and headed right down the street to it. It was in this beautiful old building and I had to climb a few flights of stairs to finally reach the hostel number. There was no number outside the door, but when I rang the doorbell a man greeted me and told me I was in the right place.

The hostel had the scent of freshly cut wood, and it looked extremely clean. It was also strangely quiet, and I even noticed that plastic still lined parts of the wall. When I told the man behind the desk my name, he shuffled through papers then said, “ah yes! Here is your reservation.” Behind him was what I presumed to be his wife holding a young baby and also another girl around my age. When I was showed my room, I realized that I was the only person in my room! Perfect because I really needed a quiet night in.

Even more than being the only person in my room, I was the only person in the hostel.

I was the first guest in the hostel.

Through broken English I found out that though their booking page was online, they were not actually opening their doors for guests until the following week. The family owned hostel was totally unprepared for a guest to make a reservation, but then I showed up! Staying at that hostel was everything I needed. The woman heard I had a bad cough and she made me tea. The following morning, I ate breakfast with the girl my age.

I’m really excited for this family. It was obvious that they poured a lot of their money, time and effort into this hostel. It is a great location, has excellent facilities, and the shower is handicap friendly which makes it the best shower I’ve ever had in a hostel. I would highly recommend anyone traveling through Budapest to stay at the Yolo Hostel – Budapest.

The following day I again met up with Anthony and the Mizzou group to explore the city. We hiked up for a fantastic view of the entire city, ate lunch and walked around. It was the first time I traveled with such a large group and it was an enjoyable change of pace. Though, it made me thankful that I was traveling solo and meeting up with only small groups at a time because coordinating with so many people takes more time than when alone and groups require compromises about activities.

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Even when we said goodbye that night Anthony and I couldn’t believe we ended up in the same country half-way around the world. It was fun to meet all of these people for the first time in Budapest, and they all make me smile when I see them around campus and remember our adventures in Hungary. M-I-Z-budapest-Z-O-U!

Posted on by Reagan J Payne in Part II, Uncategorized

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