Monday, June 2, 2008

Day 13th- May 31th: Inspired hate and Negative Feeling

pictured: the $40USD "Antique" painting with holes

My experiences in the last couple of days had been strange and I feel I am obligated to write a darker, negative elements of my visit. I think all the positive things written in the last 13 days or so might have been overwhelmingly one sided and this is my attempt to balance things out a little and examine Budapest under a different light.

This blog is inspired by a young 25 year old tourist visiting from Israel. He is having a complete different experience than my. He hates the city and wants to go home after 3 days of being in Budapest (his trip is for 5 days) He feels Hungarian people are rude, inconsiderate, unfriendly, do not understand English; the city is dirty, and outdated. He loves cities like New York, Paris and Los Angeles. He can't wait to return to Tel Aviv and escape Budapest for good. This blog is devoted to him.

The following the things I dislike about Budapest:

  • Public drinking and drunkenness:
    One of the biggest problems facing the city. Liberal drinking policies and the culture acceptance to public drunkenness is insane. Drinking every hours in the day and streets filled with drunken people at night can be a bit unnerving and annoying.

  • Water pressure:
    Many Hungarian establishments (modern or vintage) do not have good plumbing systems. No water pressure and water closets on top of toilets.

  • Impossible to get a late night bite other than American fast food.
    Kitchen in restaurants close around 9 or 9:30pm and only serve alcohol after that time. Only eating establishment open for business are American Fast food joints and forget about eating anytime after midnight.

  • Expensive American fast food
    Value meal starts at 8 dollars and more for a standard 4- 5 dollars meals we get in the US. I have had American fast food here at least 4 times now and It's very rare for me to eat this in the states, maybe 2 times a year.

  • The none- existing middle-class
    The daily necessities are cheap comparing to the States but anything imported are expensive. There is no middle- class here and there are almost no mid- price goods. We take Gap, Banana Republic, Crate and Barrel, Kenneth Cole and A/X for granted. Also aside from imported taxes the sales tax here is 20 percent.

  • Lack of casual coffee shops and the abundance of watering holes.
    Replace your big American city Starbucks or take away coffee shops and replace them with watering holes or beer joints you will have a good idea how many of these beer joints are in this city.

  • Lack of air conditioning
    It's early summer and it's hot and humid but no air conditioning in most buildings and even some nice stores they do not have air conditioning installed. I heard from July- sept the heat is excruciatingly hot.

  • Flea Market “Antique” dealers
    Crooks, most of these dealers are not dealing with antique but junk or garbage they found around the city. They have open price police and they rip people off. If things are in disrepair and the goods have no value It can't be called antique.

  • Tourist trap, rip offs and be aware of your surroundings
    Tourist beware, restaurants without pricing or menu posted are traps. Taxis are traps!!! I have noticed (and been told) locals are very aware of their surroundings they will start moving their purses, or bags in front of them when others walk close.

  • Weekend store closures and short business hours
    Most places, other than the mall is closed on Sundays and some closed on Saturdays even. Their business hours are short too. Most stores are closed by 7, no shopping is possible after that time.

  • Lack of Asian cuisine
    I have seen one sushi restaurant and a couple of cheap Chinese restaurants... Asian cuisine doesn't exist here in Budapest.

  • 20 something's without teeth
    In America we have 2 types of people: people with good teeth (naturally or had braces), people with bad teeth (cruet). In Hungary, there are 2 type of people also, people with good teeth or dentures (most with dentures if they have good teeth) and people with no teeth. I am not talking about 60 year olds with missing teeth but 20 somethings with only a couple of teeth left. This is rampant especially if you are the lower class. It will happen to anyone if they smoke, eat all these sweets and don't brush or seek Dentists' care. Although I don't understand why people don't take care of their teeth because health care is free to it's citizens.

  • Littering
    I love how they have public trash cans on almost every corner of the streets but people still litter especially in parks or any where that offers a sitting area. Most popular trash item, beer cans!

  • Disable unfriendly if not hostile
    It's sad to be handicapped in Budapest and its darn right impossible because the Metro system does not have elevators. None of the underground cross ways have elevators and no eased curbs and forget about ramps!!!. Maybe their plan works because since my arrival, not a sight of anyone with disabilities just many tired mothers trying to lift their strollers up and down 2-4 stories of steps.

  • Money charging public bathrooms
    No free use of toilets! No matter it's government or privately own proprieties. They cost money, train stations, parks, museums, public market places, even at Burger King it cost anywhere from 90 to150 forints. So far the only place withs free toilets I have found is the mall.

  • Public urination
    Well this is the consequences of the last item. Some people just don't want to pay and many places in the city do smell like bathrooms especially in parks, streets and alley ways off the main boulevards and underground cross ways. Yuck!

  • Chain smokers
    This is the land of chain smokers! I have never seen so many people smoke, it feels as if the entire population smokes. By the end of the day your clothes will smell like an ashtray if you should decide to do anything outside of your home.

  • People with bad personal hygiene
    I believe the weather is partially to be blamed, it's hot and humid right now and people smells bad especially in enclosed areas like stores, subway carts or even at bus stations. The lack of air conditioning is also to be blamed because Taiwan is far more hot and even a higher level of humidity but every building is air conditioned and you get a chance to “dry out”. In Budapest you just sweat all day and it builds up. For a couple of those really hot days I have had taken 3 showers in a 24 hour period and I know it's hard for most people to do but some people really smell like they had not shower for 5 days.

  • Humidity, heat, pigeons, motorcycle street racers, aging public transit stations, tourist, inconsiderate tourist, limited transit hours on the metro system, Few people understand of speak English. A good amount of great buildings in disrepair.

The above are minor and no city is perfect, I certainly don't expect Budapest to be. They are really just problems that most cities have to deal with.

ok, I am done bitching!

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