Apologies for not posting in a couple of weeks but I haven’t been off on any adventures in that time. Instead I’ve been sick with one of those colds that just seems impossible to shake – happens every Winter. Even though I haven’t been off exploring, I’ve missed writing so I decided to write about the eventful time I had in Budapest a little while ago.
Now let me first say how much I loved Budapest. It’s one of my favourite cities and I can’t wait to go back one day. However it was also where a couple of incidents took place, most of them involving transportation in one way or another.
1. Visiting the Vietnamese in Budapest speaking neither Hungarian nor Vietnamese
This was the most annoying run-in I’ve had with an airline – Vietnam Airlines – to be precise. My flight was return Melbourne to Paris via Ho Chi Minh City. At the last minute though the airline added a domestic leg to the return flight making it Paris – Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh City – Melbourne and I was informed upon departure to Paris that I would need a Vietnamese visa for this domestic leg of the flight.
It was honestly the most ridiculous thing but we double checked at Charles to Gaulle (Paris) and they confirmed we would need the visa.
Now I speak French so it would have been handy to visit the Vietnamese embassy in Paris but as it turned out we were only there over the weekend so we wouldn’t be able to go to the embassy. Instead we had no choice but to go to the Vietnamese embassy in Budapest to get our visa.
Long story short we wasted half a day at the embassy but with google translate in tow we got the forms we needed and paid a couple of hundred dollars to speed up the processing time. We returned back to the embassy two days later, collected our passports, now featuring a fancy (and very expensive) Vietnamese visa that we would be using for a whole twenty minutes while we traversed the footpath from the international to domestic terminal and we begrudgingly left the embassy.
And that’s why I’ll never fly Vietnam Airlines again (unless they have a really good deal in which case I probably will, let’s be realistic but I would be unlikely to use them to get to Europe again)
2. Getting locked in a taxi
This sounds scarier than it actually was and was really a ditzy oversight that I blame wholly on sleep deprivation.
It was 3.30 in the morning when we hailed down a taxi to take us back to the airport. The driver was nice, spoke a little English and we discussed travel. He told us he would love to visit Australia but would never be able to afford it as taxi drivers aren’t paid too well in Hungary.
We arrived outside the terminal and here’s where our oversight became apparent as I pulled out my credit card. He shook his head and my stomach did a little flip as I realised that Hungarian taxis don’t always take credit card. See I’m not a cash person, you don’t need it in Australia and I can’t remember the last time I paid for something in cash. I find cash dirty and I’d just rather avoid touching ATM keyboards too if I’m honest. It’s probably been months since I last paid for something with cash.
In Australia taxis have to take credit card but not so in Budapest and we were feeling pretty stupid for assuming they would.
Looking in my wallet I didn’t have enough forint and he locked the doors. It was clear we weren’t going anywhere until we scraped together the cash. My friend and I emptied our wallets and handing over all the forints and euros we had and we came just short of the fare so he unlocked the doors. Lesson learnt: in foreign countries always have cash for taxis.
3. Getting fined and a sub-par flight courtesy of Wizz Air
Have you heard of Wizz Air before? Because I hadn’t until I booked a super cheap flight (approximately 20€) from Budapest to Brussels. Wizz Air is a Hungarian Airline and my experience with them was not good.
Now the confirmation email we had from the Airline said that you could check in at the airport or at home but if you did it at home you would need a print out. As we were staying in an Airbnb without a printer we opted for the former. So we arrived at the airport where we were told at the Wizz Air desk that for that particular flight you had to check in 24 hours prior and print your boarding pass at home. We showed her the conflicting information on the confirmation email and she shrugged and said it would be approximately 80 or 90€ each for her to check us in at the counter. Well we didn’t actually have a choice as we had to make the connecting flight from Brussels to Venice.
So we handed over the money and she checked us in which took a whole 2 minutes and printed our boarding passes. To this day I am not sure why we got fined that ridiculous amount but we quickly realised that seems to be one of Wizz Air’s policies. As we were boarding the plane they charged the woman in front of us 50€ because she had a small bag of snacks (purchased from the departure lounge) in addition to her carry on. And they wouldn’t let her just put the snacks in her carry on luggage.
So, I actually had an amazing time in Budapest but this post was about the glitches I encountered and mainly my gripes with various airlines. I’ll be writing a post soon about my favourite things in Budapest.
Has anyone else had a similar experience with these airlines or was it just bad luck for us?