I was in Budapest, backpacking around Europe for the first time. As a newly arrived Mexican, Europe had been an amazing adventure already. Arriving into the central train station there I had no place to stay as I was travelling off the cuff on this whole trip. It was early in the morning and I was just waking up when a lady who offered to have me stay with her and her family at their home approached me. It seemed a bit sketchy but she showed me some photos of her house and some other backpackers who had stayed there. I decided it looked safe enough so I went and stayed at their house.
After a little nap I was talking to her son, he was about 19, he told me to be careful of the girls in Budapest and to also not go to the strip clubs as they always rip tourists off there. I reassured him that I wasn’t here for that so I would be fine. He grinned and gave me a phone number just in case anything went wrong.
I headed into the city and walked around to see the sights of this stunning place. It was getting on to about 7.30pm when I was about to go back to the house I was staying at.
I was on my way back through the main centre of Budapest, I had my map out and was about to light a cigarette when two beautiful girls approached me and asked me for a light. Of course I said yes and they asked me if I needed some help with directions since I had the map out. They seemed really nice and after a while they invited me to go for a drink at a bar near-by. I said no thank you as I was really tired but they were very persistent so in the end I said I would come for one drink.
We walked through the main street and then took a little alley way to a place where we took an elevator to a bar. It seemed like a normal bar to me and there were a few other people scattered throughout, but I felt like something was just off.
The girls got a cocktail each and I grabbed a Heineken. We talked for a while about life and what we each did. The girls suggested I try a shot that is similar to Tequilla, I did one and it was very strong. After I finished my beer I told the girls I was tired and that I wanted to go to another bar as this bar wasn’t really for me.
The girls agreed and we asked for the bill… I called the waiter over, he handed the bill for a beer, 2 cocktails and a shot… it was for 280 EUROS!
I asked, “what the hell is going on? That seems very expensive for what we had!” The waiter assured me that was the right price and that we had to pay the bill. I said ok, I told them I would pay for my beer which was 80 Euros but I wouldn’t pay for anything else. The girls were making no effort to get their wallets out to pay their part and this was when I knew they were all in on it. The girls eventually said they had no money!
The waiter told me that in Hungary the man has the responsibility to pay for the bill. I slid him the 80 Euros and said “There’s my part of the bill”
They demanded that I pay the whole amount and once again I said no.
I took out a cigarette and lit it up trying to act cool, saying that they can call the police if they like, I don’t care. The waiter’s response took me by surprise “I won’t call the police but someone else is coming to make you understand.”
I felt like I was in some trouble. I managed to stash the cash in my wallet into my travellers pouch under the table where they couldn’t see what was going on.
After about 5 minutes a massive man came into the room and pulled me by my shirt and dragged me to my feet. He said “you have to pay mother f#$%$r! You are in my country and I am telling you what is going to happen!” He kept at me and was as intimidating as hell. I realised I had to find a way to get out of that place. I showed them my empty wallet and said I would pay with credit card. They said, “No! Only cash!”
I said “ok, I need to go to an ATM machine to get your cash.”
The girls offered to come with me but I said “no no, I don’t want you to come” as I figured that they would hinder my intended escape. Eventually they agreed and took me back to the main street to the ATM.
While we were waiting for the machine I was talking loud, trying to get some attention. Either no one heard or no one cared because no one even game us a second look. When I got the front of the line for the ATM I used a card that I knew wouldn’t work. I said to the guy “it’s not working? I don’t know why.”
The guy grabbed me and said “make it work!”
In the end I grabbed the card from the machine and said “I need to make a call, I am going to get some coins for a phone. You think I am alone but I am not alone.” I was bluffing of course.
I started walking. The guy and one of the girls were following me. I decided not to run just in case the girl screamed as I ran, because if they caught me then, they could tell the police some kind of lie.
I was going to call the family I was staying with to try to get some help. The guy grabbed me and said “No, we go back upstairs!” I shrugged him off and walked away from him. I walked into the first bar I saw to try to get some change for the phone call.
I went in and asked the waitress for some change. The guy following me said something to her and then all of a sudden she said she had no change. “A bar with no change?”
She apologized and said, “sorry I can’t.” She looked scared.
I walked out of the bar and on my way out my ears caught the most beautiful sound in the world at that moment. Someone speaking Mexican! The exact words were “No mames wey.”
I turned to where the words came from. I walked over and asked them if they had change for the call. They asked why I needed to make a call. I explained the situation and they said to me “You don’t need to make a call!”
At that moment 40 Mexican men all stood up at the same time!
The look on the guy and girls face was amazing. They looked on with their jaws dropped. They still tried to get money from me but all of the Mexicans explained in no uncertain terms that I wouldn’t be paying for a thing!
The girl left but the guy still stood there. I looked him in the eye and said to him,“I told you I was not alone!”
He looked defeated and left.
I spent the rest of the evening drinking with the other Mexicans and feeling safe with my fellow countrymen.
The next day when I was back with the family I told them what had happened. They were shocked but said that they had heard of this kind of thing happening. The young boy who had warned me the day before just smiled at me knowingly.
I spent a few more days in Budapest and loved every single second of it. But this gorgeous place has a dark side as well.
My advice when in Budapest is to enjoy everything that stunning city has to offer, but be aware of the gorgeous girls there… a cute smile is not worth 280 Euros!