Friday, May 25, 2012

Things Gleaned and Retrospective Advice

  1. When a scuzzy-looking non-Swede approaches you (and subsequently everyone else) while you wait for the airport bus in Malmö and asks for assistance because he needs insulin and his friend abandoned him, just say no. What he was lookin' to shoot up was not medicinal. 
  2. There is no such thing as too much handwashing in an airport.
  3. It's always funny when someone opens a carbonated beverage and it explodes.  Always.
  4. In line to check in to your flight, there will be two middle-aged American backpackers in front of you.  They will speak of cheap airlines and mention something about jets not being up to code.  As you are flying a cheap airline, ignore this conversation. 
  5. Also in this line, you will have a moment of complete panic because your purse is gone.  Rest assured, it's not.  It's just inside your other bag.  Relish the relief. 
  6. If the very clueless guy who has to go through the metal detector numerous times and eventually gets thoroughly patted down is truly a terrorist, the terrorists need to be more selective.
  7. The opportune time to liberally spritz yourself with six perfumes from the duty-free shop is not right before boarding a two-hour flight. This is a lesson you will learn but never apply.
  8. If you douse your scarf with Youth Dew by Estée Lauder, you will smell like your mother.  This in combination with the airport smelling like every last day of elementary school will send you into a weird mental place.  You're not old enough to be going to Budapest alone! Except you are. 
  9. Combovers fool no one, sir. And three strands do not a combover make. 
  10. Thinking If you recline your seat, I'll kill you enough times actually is effective on the rambunctious men in the row ahead of you on the plane.
  11. Thinking This feels like crashing as your pilot swoops downward to land actually is not effective on anyone.
  12. There apparently is no passport control for European arrivals at the Budapest airport. This makes you feel like you're entering the country illegally. 
  13. There will be a terrifying elevator promising to take you down from the overpass to the train tracks. Trust your instincts and take the stairs. 
  14. Do not judge anywhere by its outskirts, as if you do, your thoughts while waiting for the train to Nyugati Station will be I'm in the Holocaust oh Lord this is not a vacation destination oh God. 
  15. If you jaywalk, you may almost get run over by a car and motorcycle tag team. 
  16. When you wander onto a street where a very odd man is staring into a garbage bin, the time to about-face is when he very methodically sticks his hand in it, because you're sure you don't want to know.
  17. The amount of chagrin one feels when they realize they will be underdressed for the opera cannot overshadow excitement. 
  18. Using your camera's zoom to try to look at someone's engagement ring is creepy.
  19. The best moment to take a flash photo at the opera is not the instant after the don't-take-pictures announcement has concluded. 
  20. Since Macbeth is in Italian, subtitles are provided on a screen above the stage.  They are in Hungarian and thus unhelpful.
  21. The fire leaping from a curtain offstage during the performance is actually carried controlledly on a torch, so fear not. 
  22. When ordering food in Hungary, just leave out "Hungarian" (as in "Hungarian goulash"). You're in the country.  It's implied.
  23. Taking a random bus may catapult you right into somewhere that looks a whole lot like Communism hasn't left yet. 
  24. When you read a recommendation for a ballet that goes  "If you like Russian intensity, The Karamazovs is worth seeing," you don't think twice before buying your ticket. 
  25. Jeans to the ballet?  Why not?  Make a mental note never to let these fashion mishaps happen again.
  26. When you go to restaurants alone and you get bread before your meal, you are totally in control of it. None of that "Do you mind if I eat the last wheat piece?" or worrying that you're overdoing it with the butter.  This is a beautiful freedom. 
  27. If you follow the people with suitcases at Nyugati Station, they will lead you right to the airport train.  You can also lead yourself to it by  boarding one of the many marked "Hungarian Hungarian AIRPORT." 
  28. By all accounts, security at Ferihegy takes nine years and you need to get there way ahead of time to even have a prayer of making your flight.  Get there obscenely early and wait.  Good uses of your time include reading, eating, making sure you still have your passport, staring at the blonde woman six seats away from you who is a dead ringer for Kate Winslet from the mouth up, and listening to a mother lecture her child in Hungarian.
  29. Check in, go through security, spray a different scarf with too much perfume, and find your boarding gate in under twenty minutes.  Resolve again to start taking the internet's advice with a couple dozen grains of salt. 
Pictures (and video!) coming soon. (Actually, pictures are already on Facebook, so click on over.)

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