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Published: March 3rd 2015
This is a bit of a weird tale about my time in Budapest. Whilst most blog posts about this city will probably focus on the beautiful buildings, the river, the culture, mine is going to solely focus on my trip from England to my youth hostel in Budapest. You might think this means that Budapest is a boring city with nothing to offer; which is untrue. I just think that my voyage there is a bit more entertaining.
On Friday 13th February, I left Stuttgart to fly back to England for my friends' wedding. I spent a great day on Saturday at the wedding, but I had booked flights to meet my friends in Budapest on Sunday. So on Sunday afternoon, my parents took me to the airport where I would fly to Hungary. Upon boarding the plane, I discovered I was Seat B- which meant that I was the middle seat between Miss. Seat A and Mr. Seat C. When the passengers came and sat next to me, I had a brief conversation with them about what they had been doing in London and why they were going to Budapest. Miss. A didn't speak much (she only discussed the high price of bottled water in London), and she soon went to sleep. I had a longer talk with Mr. C. He told me that he was visiting his girlfriend in London and that he worked in Budapest, but wasn't from Hungary. I then asked him what he had done with his hand, as it was in a bandage. It looked like that Old Man Marley guy from Home Alone (the one with the shovel). Remember this allusion, because it is foreshadowing to later events. When the plane started flying, I decided to have a little sleep, because I had been travelling a lot the past few days. When the aeroplane had a bit of turbulence, I woke up. As I woke up, I noticed that the guy (Mr. Seat C) was looking at pictures of himself just in his underwear- they had obviously been taken by his girlfriend whilst he was in London. I thought it was a bit strange that he was looking at these on the aeroplane, but I thought no more about it and went back to sleep.
When we arrived in Budapest, Mr. Seat C said goodbye to me and told me to have fun in Budapest. I then got off the plane and made my way to the passport control. As I was going through one queue of the passport control, I noticed Mr. Seat C stood in the queue next to me. He noticed me and asked, "How are you getting to meet your friends in Budapest?", to which I replied, "I think I have to take the bus." Mr. Seat C then said, "I have my car parked here; I will take you. It's no problem." Now here is where I don't know what I was thinking. My whole life, I have been told not to get into a car with a stranger. It's been a storyline in like every children's TV show I have ever watched. My parents taught me it from a young age, and while working at a school, it's the kind of advice I should be spreading to young children. For this reason, I have no idea why I said what could have easily been my famous last words.
"You sure you don't mind taking me in your car? Ah, that's great. Thanks so much." James Reed (1993-2015)
I will repeat again: I don't know what I was thinking. I don't know if it was to save me the equivalent of like £3 bus fare, or whether or not I just thought, 'a trip in a stranger's car sounds better than waiting for a bus', but either way, I accepted his offer and we left together.
Before we left the airport, the guy said he just needed to go to the Spar and buy something for his dinner. When we got in the shop, I thought it would be best to introduce ourselves properly. The guy's name was something beginning with R (it was hard to pronounce) and it turned out he was from Israel. I told him my name is James and said that I was a student working in Germany. Now let's talk about what he purchased whilst we were in there... and this is when things were getting weird. For his 'dinner' he bought a massive cucumber and like some kind of sauce I think it was. That was all. At this point, I was still not suspicious of his actions, but I thought it best to ring the friends I was meeting to let them know I was going to go in a car with a stranger. I think this decision saved me from being molested.
Once he had bought the small things for his meal, we made our way out of the airport to the car park. As we went along we talked about this and that. We got to his car, and he got his phone out to use as a sat-nav. I gave him the address and he typed it in and said he knew where to go. He turned the car engine on...and then locked the doors. When I heard that automatic 'click' of the locks going down, my heart stopped a bit. Why. Did. He. Lock. The. Doors? I pretended not to notice, but in reality, I was thinking, 'Oh man, what have I just agreed to?' He then asked my name again, because he had forgotten it, and then asked how old I was. When I said twenty-one, he said, 'Ah, so young." My mouth went dry as I thought of what he had planned to do with my young body... I had disturbing flashes of my handcuffed in a cellar with him approaching with his long cucumber and pot of sauce.
He sped out of the airport car park and started racing along the streets towards the city centre. I have to admit, I was also afraid of his high-speed driving. I noticed a police car on the other side of the road, and so I said to him, "Oh, be careful, the police are over there. They might stop you if you're driving too fast." This is when I knew he was going to kill me. "Oh, the police can't stop me," he said. "I am above the law. I am a diplomat. Under the Vienna Convention, even if I killed someone, all they could do would be to send me back to Israel." My blood turned to ice. He was gonna kill me. I thought about texting my parents telling them I loved them and repenting all my sins, but instead I grabbed my phone and held it like a knife, so if he tried anything, then I would slam it against his temple. Very violent. I didn't know I had it in me. After saying this, he then said, "Do you mind if I go and get some dinner from Burger King? I don't want to cook when I get in." I was thinking, 'yeah, of course you don't wanna cook, cos you're gonna be too busy sticking that cucumber up my-' but I said, 'OK. That's not a problem.' To his word, all we did was go through the Drive-Thru and he got his meal.
Within a few minutes of this, he pulled his car over to the side of the road and said we were there. A wave of relief rushed through me. I was safe. He wasn't a crazy man at all; he was just an extremely friendly and nice Israeli helping out a fellow foreigner. I felt guilty for all I had thought. However, before I got out the car, he said, "have fun" and he did grab my knee in a way that can only be described as unnecessary.
So, all in all, my eventful trip to the hostel ended well. I thought it was just me being paranoid of his actions, but when I Googled his name as a diplomat working at the Budapest Israeli Embassy... He wasn't on there.
Did I survive kidnap and assault with a cucumber, or am I just being a jerk-in (gherkin. I tried to make a joke, and it isn't funny).
James "The Survivor" Reed.
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