Getting ripped off in Budapest
I got into Budapest last night around eight. My Swedish Serbian friend who I met on the train, walked me to my hostel, which is pretty chill, The Museum Guest House. They told me I could pay later if I wanted, which I did since I was soaked in sweat. So this morning was the first time I used my Hungarian money.
At the speculation of the cost of things, and the advice of my Lonely Planet Europe on a Shoestring (my bible), I took out 10,000 FT. This morning, after getting complicated directions to the fine arts museum from the receptionist at my hostel, I purchase a ticket. After asking if he speaks English (he does not), I give him 10,000 FT. He gives me 830 FT and a ticket.
I get to the museum, and it is only when I pay that I realize he totally ripped me off. Instead of giving me 8,030 FT, he gave me 830! My museum trip is ruined with me freaking out how I lost so much money. After the museum, I go over to a little table set up for tourists and explain to the young men what happened. One of them volunteers to go over and talk to him, but we are both less than hopeful about the final results. We chat on the train, and talk about how Hungary has changed, the Soviet style housing his parents live in, what we do, traveling, that sort of thing. When we get there, he talks to the clerk, and gets me all of my money back.
‘Oh, he said he told you he was going to the safe and you left.’
Yeah right. He gave me my money rather hurriedly. I walked and validated it, and then realized I should get a map. I walked BACK to him, and he was standing in the door, and asked him using gestures for a map. He told me they had none. He did not get money from the safe. Oddly, instead of getting it from his cash drawer, he got up and got it from someplace in the back. Totally trying to rip me off. I am so glad I met Danniel, the Hungarian guy.
To thank Danniel, I took him out for ice cream. He walked me to my next destination, this castle, and we talked. He pointed out interesting buildings, took me inside several, telling me the history. A really fascinating informal tour.
I am glad I met Danniel, but what a jerk that clerk was. Always know the price (I did not which is probably why I didn’t question it in the first place) and stand up for yourself. I am glad I did.