What began as an innocent shopping night on the fashion street of Budapest, quickly became a frantic scramble to find my way home.
After a full day of excursions and many staircases, a cold Starbucks drink and the sale rack of Zara sounded like a perfect way to unwind. The busy fashion district, known as Vaci Utca 6, buzzed with tourists bulldozing their way through the crowds. I decided it was getting late, the sun swiftly setting as I sat down on the tram ride home.
I woke up 45 minutes later, dazed and disoriented as the empty tram came to a complete stop in a tram car-wash. The driver, apparently not noticing my existence previously, yelled in Hungarian what I’m assuming could only be “Why are you here, stupid American tourist?” before dismissing me into the vacant parking lot. I realized then that I was alone, far from home and hopelessly lost.
My first plan of action: lose the drunk homeless man tailing my trail. Efforts to avoid or change paths only seemed to anger him more, his temper flaring as he threw harsh words my way. Once I darted away, I had to let my friends know where I was and what was going on.
Getting me home was a group effort, really. Following a brief panic attack and many tears, I turned on cellular services on my iPhone for the first time on this trip (sorry, Dad). Anxiety clouded my mind, because not once did it occur to me to activate my maps. The GroupMe blew up with friends concerned for my safety.
Everyone attempted their best effort to get me home. They called the police, ordered multiple taxi services, screenshotted various bus routes, all fruitless. The numerous public transportation services that passed by me all read “not for service” or “unavailable.” Even the Budapest police were unable to help me.
Finally, I resorted to walking home. Despite my sore feet and empty stomach, I was able to make the trek and find a public bus to take me the rest of the way home.
The Starbucks was not worth it.