Frustrated with the heavy backpacks we had been lugging for almost an hour after arriving at one of the many Budapest train stations, I muttered under my breath, “Urgh, I hate this city already!” The weather wasn’t helping either as it was downcast with light showers now dampening my scarf. We trotted on a bit more with the only map we had of the city and finally arrived at our hostel – the Mandarin Hostel. Dark as ever the hallway leading up to the even darker staircase was uninviting. We knocked on the door that seemed like it had a reception table on the side. No response. Bang a little harder and realized the door wasn’t locked. But there was no one at the reception, unlike all the other hotels we have been staying at. We found a note telling us to call on the phone for the receptionist. Loud footsteps entered the room behind the counter and staring at us with his magnifying glass spectacles he speaks with a sing-songy accent in English. We finally stepped into our bedroom only to be greeted with a musky smell and drippy old curtains. The hallways to the toilet outside of our room were dark and eerie. Instantly we turned to each other and nodded in agreement that bolting right out was the best solution. By then the sun had already set and mentally we had no place to stay for the night (however technically we still had a room we cringed to even stay for the night).
5pm – We checked-out lugged our backpacks in search for a place closer to the city after an online search on Hostel World.
6pm – We were now climbing the stairways to a place called Lavender Circus. The stairways were again not properly lighted (maybe it’s just a Budapest thing we thought!). By the fourth flight of stairs a guy from the 5th floor yells down at us, “Do you have reservations?” We shook our heads and said, “No!” He sympathetically responded, “Sorry, we’re fully booked.” At this point we were this close to giving up. Seeing our pathetic postures and sorry faces he invited us in to use the computer for yet another search. Meantime, we persistently pestered if there were any available rooms. “Sorry, no rooms” But within 15 minutes, he must have sensed our desperation and immediately made a few phone calls. That was when we found Andrea extremely helpful. He made some changes with the bookings and offered us a room for 4 nights.
It was also then that I joyously remarked, “I think I’m beginning to like Budapest” salvaging my initial thoughts of this city.