A major reason for undertaking this tour of Europe was to get away from familiar surroundings, get out of my comfort zone and hopefully discover more about myself. It’s this journey of discovery that allows me to handle a negative experience and learn from it which I will elaborate on later in this article.
When I last blogged all was right with the world. I’d just spent three nights at Camping Bled, with beautiful surroundings and some good company. Bled is small however and as it would be over a week before my friends flew into Slovenia I needed to explore somewhere new. It seemed pointless to explore more of Slovenia as I would have time to do that in August, ditto Croatia. Following recommendations from others and the fact it shared a border with Slovenia I decided to head to Hungary with the intention of visiting Budapest.
The original plan was to stop in the Slovenian town of Prebold which was on the way and according to one of my camping books had at least two campsites and what it described as a remarkable Roman necropolis nearby. When I arrived at said necropolis the car park was tiny and from the images on the displayed tourist boards ‘remarkable’ would not be how I would describe it. As a result I decided to keep driving and eventually pulled over into a services where there seemed to be no time limit on parking so I decided to sleep there. I cannot quite remember if the services were in Slovenia or Hungary but I suspect the former.
On Sunday morning I continued my journey into Hungary and suddenly saw a sign indicating that there was a Tesco supermarket in the town at the next junction. Being curious and short of supplies I decided to pay it a visit. The signage, car park and non food goods all looked very familiar but the food and drink was, as you would expect aimed at the local taste. The Tesco supermarket was not the only familiar thing either, the weather felt British and it was the first time I’d worn jeans since leaving the UK some weeks before.
Back on the road from my window I could not help but notice how many Go-Kart tracks there seemed to be in Hungary. Billboard posters told me that the following weekend would be the Hungarian Grand Prix and I began to wonder if we would one day see a Hungarian Formula 1 World Champion.
Hungary felt so different to Slovenia in so many ways. Slovenia was almost like this idealistic world where the gap between rich and poor was not evident, where teenagers seemed well behaved and productive, where the streets were clean etc. In Hungary on the other hand you could see the latest luxury cars and East German Trabants in the same street, homeless people would go through bins, and all teenagers seemed to wear hoodies and loiter on street corners with nothing to do.
Finally I arrived at the most central campsite to Budapest, Haller Camping. Being a small campsite you felt hemmed in and with all the rain the ground was muddy but on the plus side they did have a very useable wifi connection and the price included free use of their washing machines so I took the opportunity to wash the bed linen. The weather was so bad I did not venture out for the rest of that day.
On Monday morning the forecast was for more showers but I headed out anyway visiting sights such as Saint Stephen’s Basilica and the Opera House before heavy rain forced me to return, feeling depressed and with a headache. This was the negative experience I referred to in the opening paragraph. I came to realise that big cities don’t agree with me. I think it is a combination of over population, noise, traffic and homeless people that just leaves me exhausted. It’s the same when I visit central London, I return wiped out and often with a headache.
On the subject of the homeless and beggars I think I’m a caring person and my natural instinct is to help people less fortunate but at the same time if I’m being honest I’d much rather be surrounded by healthy, attractive, positive people than the sick, negative or less fortunate. In a way I agree with the lyrics of the John Lennon song ‘I Don’t Wanna Face It’ when he says, ‘You wanna save humanity but it’s people that you just can’t stand’. Hopefully you know what I mean!
On Tuesday morning I’d decided I would be leaving Budapest but before I left there was just enough time to visit Heroes Square. I would have liked to visit The Fisherman’s Bastion and perhaps Memento Park too but the weather showed no signs of improving and I really felt the need to leave, the only question was where to next?