We lay in our beds trembling as the door to our room was vehemently attacked from the outside. Images of *Hostel *and *Taken* flashed through my mind and Liam Neeson’s words echoed in my ears- “They will take you”. Searching through our rucksacks, trying to be as quiet as possible but as quick as we could, the only plausible weapon that we could lay our hands on was a wine opener. That which had aided in damaging our livers over the past few weeks was now potentially going to save our lives. Oh the irony…
Visiting Budapest in the summer is a great idea- the people are friendly and the city is alive with culture and entertainment. Visiting Budapest in the manner in which myself and two friends attempted is, alas, not one of the brightest.
We were definitely the architects of our own (near) demise, as our refusal to pre-book accommodation on our month-long escapade through Eastern Europe had landed us in a dirty, dingy five- floor youth hostel, more akin to a half-way house than anything else. We had preferred to take things as they came and live more footloose and fancy-free. Our first mistake was failing to realise that with the Sziget music festival in full-swing all the good hostels would be full. Our second, trusting the “too-good-to-be-true” deal the Tourist Information lady on the train from Vienna to Budapest offered at discounted rates. A free transfer from the train station, private room AND left-luggage while we used our Sziget day tickets? Sign us up. The shady characters on-board the bus to the hostel should have warned us, just as the graffiti-covered crumbling edifice and the strange looks we got from the old people who seemed to live in the “hostel” should have deterred us. Our rose-tinted glasses, however, remained unstained.
And now here we were, facing potential death in a small cramped hostel room in the middle of a city we didn’t know, and in which nobody knew we were. Being young and carefree, we had not bothered calling home. The knocking, which started as a light tapping almost five minutes before, got louder. Our fear increased. We began to pray. That is, two of us prayed, the other was miraculously, mysteriously, and enviably, still in the land of nod oblivious to our plight.
And then it stopped.
We held our breath as the outline of a pair of feet remained visible under the crack at the bottom of the door. Eventually, the shadow disappeared and our would-be attacker marched down the hall. We sat in our beds and waited.
Next morning we packed up and hesitantly made our way down to reception. The staff denied knowing anything about the incident and we left for greener fields. Luckily, we found a smaller, quieter hostel nearby, deposited our bags and a few hours later, carousing round the Sziget festival, cocktail in hand, the events of the night before were all but forgotten..