Hungary 2022 – Part one!

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The first time I travelled on my own to Hungary (which you can read all about at https://rhysreviews.com/2019/07/27/hungary-blog-part-one/) I talked about how initially I was terrified to travel without anyone else but the sense of accomplishment after the event was very overwhelming! The empowering moment of strutting down the escalators with my suitcase gracefully gliding behind me was unmatched and I felt as if I could I could overcome anything! Unfortunately, however, this feeling has to be labelled as beginners’ Luck as this journey was not as uplifting as my second attempt of travelling did not go as smoothly! Upon arriving at a changeover location for the national express, I noticed that my suitcase (which I had spent the previous night furiously packing) was no longer in the holding area. This bag contained the majority of my clothing for the trip but as I was roughly twenty minutes from the airport there was nothing I could do but continue with my journey. All the key documents for flying were luckily in my backpack (which I since held onto for dear life!) and so I was able to board the plane but with only two pairs of flips flops, a hat and an iPad to last me three weeks in a distant country. Despite the bay going missing under the supervision of the National Express bus service, I do need to say that they did everything within their power to help locate the missing luggage (by texting and emailing every single passenger on the bus) and were able to locate/return my luggage to my Welsh home! However, I was in Hungary and my clothes were in Wales so I was forced to purchase a plethora of new clothes for the rest of my trip! The bus itself was a little more expensive than my usual method of transportation (namely the mega bus) but it managed to get me to the airport at the perfect time and in all honesty o slept for the majority of the journey so it was simply a case of getting on, falling asleep and waking up in Bristol which was nice!

When I finally arrived at Bristol Airport I had booked the aspire lounge (after the glamorous experience I had had three years prior in the Heathrow.) For the low price of just £35, I was able to find refugee in very fancy-looking lounge in the airport where I could help myself to unlimited breakfast, soft drinks and snacks. When you consider the fact that an average breakfast on the airport is usually around £10, the cost of unlimited food and snacks sounded very attractive to me! I do have to say that personally, I did not enjoy the bacon that aspire had to offer but the sausages were some of the best I have ever tasted! They had a wonderful array of pastries, cereals and fruits on offer as well as unlimited soft, hot and alcoholic drinks available! If you are looking for the boujie experience, I do think that the aspire lounge at Bristol airport was a slight step down from the one in Heathrow airport but when I factor in travelling from Wales into the overall cost, Bristol was much more affordable! These places are a place to relax, recharge (both figuratively and literally) and fuel up your body ready for the journey ahead with a guaranteed seat in an exclusive area so does really help set up a prestigious vibe to any trip! My biggest issue with the lounge at Bristol airport however would be the fact that it was rather a long journey from the departures lounge to the aspire lounge which when combined with the fact that there are no departure announcements in the lounges, made from a very stressful sprint to the plane for me!

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During my first experience of an Anglovile camp, there was a fantastic camp leader who managed to carefully balance the role of being authoritative but approachable perfectly! In the evening we managed to really get to know everyone on the camp and I was able to form a very close friendship with said co-ordinator so much so that she was kind enough to offer her home for a few days before and after the camps. After a discussion with my host/tour guide, we decided that as this was my fifth time in Budapest we should do something slightly different that the usual tourist attractions! I don’t think that any experience will ever be more localised/native-esque than attending a gyspy-infused folk band where no single utterance of English was used the entire night! I am not a Hungarian speaker and so lots of the lyrics and transitions went completely over my head but the energy of both Parno Graszt and the audience helped me through the evening. The music was so energetic that it had the audience singing, dancing and jumping through the whole concert (which when considering the extreme heat of Hungary is no easy feat!) This was not my usual type of music that I would listen to but it was a fun experience that tourists would usually miss out on! My favourite part of this experience however would have to be the location. It took place in the incredible Budapest park which is a unique fusion of Camden market with a range of stalls, bars etc (which I wrote about during my London adventure available at https://rhysreviews.com/2022/05/04/london-2-travel-blog/) and a full scale, festival sized stage! This was such a wonderful stage that would be a dream for any aspiring musician!

Just like the rest of Eastern Europe, Hungary is known for being very traditional with their viewpoints! This is why the last thing I would expect to be doing during my visit would be attending a series of pride events the first of which was a comedy evening performed through the medium of English! This raises a very interesting conversation about the expectation of English-speaking people that everyone (regardless of geographical location) should speak in English to them. While I think this idea of the foundation of racist ideology, I do think that for me it was a very welcomed surprise to hear English as the common language in a comedy club. I came to Hungary with the expectation that I would spend the majority of time not being able to understand other people so it hear my own language was very welcome (but not expected!) Anyway, the brilliant team of gays and theys comedy group travelled to the down-under bar (which is strangely an Australian-themed bar) in the centre of Budapest to showcase a queer-friendly stand-up set. The line-up was made up of queer performers including the wonderfully eccentric Jacob Liss, the incredibly energetic Emily Thornhill, the hilarious Linda Stonem and the brilliant Aislinn Kane. The entire event was hosted by the wonderful Rebekah Vihonen who interacted perfectly with the audience throughout. The entire evening was crammed full of hilarious , inclusive jokes (which seems to be very rare at the moment. I will say however there was a few reoccurring jokes that I found a pick to risqué for the audience which even the host commented on at one point in the night!

For those who have been following our blog posts you will know that we have been embarking on a sort of international pride tour which started in London with Mama G’s family pride event (which you can read about at https://rhysreviews.com/2022/06/27/mama-g-family-pride-event-number-two/) and end with the highly anticipated return of Cardiff pride in August. In the middle of these two British pride celebrations however now sits a journey to Budapest pride! I have attended two pride events in London and two in Cardiff but I have never been apart of the colourful parade that goes before them … until now! In Hungary these parades take on the role of a protest due to the more traditional views of the country. I recently attended a evening with the incredibly talented Divina De Campo (which you can read about at https://rhysreviews.com/2022/07/22/red-wig-and-a-silver-dress-experience-review/) where the host of the evening Mutha Tucka made a point of saying that pride is so much more than having a party in a park and that we need to keep up the tradition of pride being a protest! During the Budapest pride March we actually experienced some counter protesters who played loud music to over power the sounds of celebration from the parade and held up signs promote homophobic ideas. I am lucky to live in a government that acknowledges the queer community (there is still more work needed to be done but they are aware lgbt+ exist) but being able to see and walk with hoards of Hungarian lgbt+ people was so powerful as we were all able to make a stand against the homophobic views of the country within the need for language!

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Overall , if you wanted to summarise my first three days in Budapest in a common saying it would be “expect the unexpected!” It got off to a very rough start but once I actually stepped foot onto the country itself the people were extremely friendly and the activities that I took part in were very welcomed surprises! The next two weeks I will be helping organise activities at summer camps so make sure to keep an eye out for the blog posts coming soon!

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