I had never been to Budapest, although its just less than 3 hours away. I guess I was expecting to experience an Austrian-like culture and hospitality, so it would not be new and therefore not on my agenda for now. Surprisingly, from the moment we crossed the boarder, I experienced extreme friendliness, extra warm hospitality and openness that I was not very acquainted to in my past 14 years of western Europe. I mean, this was the kind of friendliness that made you question how such loving humans could co-exist close to those who simply dislike strangers, especially if they were obviously migrant.
Pauline from HubCouture and I, were heading towards the famous Erzsebet square to the Wamp design fair, hoping to discover Hungarian artisans and local products. As usual, we seemed not to care about how to get to the fair location from our arrival station. Somehow, we felt, when we get there, we would figure it out. So not good, but sometimes you get surprised! Why this video from Cloud9+? Well read on.
Both of us were tired from the previous week, which was intensive. Still we just could not keep our mouths shut for 10 minutes as we drove across the Austrian landscape and then quickly crossing the boarders to Hungary. The train was pretty empty, so we enjoyed the privilege of sitting alone in a compartment. The seats were patterned, tiny yellow strokes randomly crossing each other on grey background, very ugly! Soon we were not alone. The train stopped and a tattooed, slightly hung-over looking dude in his late twenties joined us. Obviously trying to figure out what we were saying in German, he cut in. “Where are you guys from?”
This is the moment where I actually get confused wondering if Austria as where “we” were “from” was a sufficient answer. Pauline was German and I am Nigeria, we both lived in Austria! Was I meant to give the question a deeper thought, a second meaning? Dem it, who cares? “Vienna” sounded even extremely deep and he was cool with that. No further heritage questions, instead we began to realise that we had just met one of Hungarians new comer pop-rock band guitarist, Cloud99plus Bertalan Tóth.
Soon he realised as well that we were less prepared for our Budapest trip. He literally went out of his way, got a taxi, brought us to Wamp fair. Ridiculous and Embarrassing! We were grown women, just too lazy to do our homework right. Nevertheless, Bertalan saved the trip and gave us an extremely friendly and charming start for the day.
Like we had not had enough of great Hungarian hospitality, from random street smiles and gestures through out the day, to this! This is what I call love. On our trip back to Vienna, we hit the peak of friendliness, never to be experienced anywhere again in western Europe, I guess. Crowded train compartments, Sunday evening, everyones heading back to Vienna, we made no seat reservations, any seat was just ok for us, even if it meant sitting adjacent or in two different compartments. Lets just get back to Vienna, that was our mind-set. And we were hungry as well.
Then guess what, an Hungarian guy, whose name we never asked for, brought out a really delicious looking pie. Before he took his first piece, he handed over the pie box to Pauline, explaining the ingredients and that it was home made. “Have some pie” he offered. So sweet, amazed, Pauline could not say no, just for the sake of the appealing look the pie gave her. I sat a seat further, stretched to see the pie and remembered how home made pastries could taste. Had no idea what this was though, but it felt extremely right to have a bite.
This was the moment when you remember and immediately forget what your mum told you every morning before school as a kid “Do not take food from strangers”. In Nigeria, you will call Paulines happy willingness to grab a pie “long-throat”, and then the stranger offering you the pie, you will classify as a killer out to poison you. Me, taking after Pauline and grabbing a piece of the pie as well, you will label – follow follow! That’s how we have come to mistrust ourselves in Nigeria. Sometimes, its justified though!
Anyway, Pauline took the first bite and I knew I was not listening to my mum’s advice, neither was I Nigerian at that moment. It was just too appealing. Hmm, as I crushed the crunchy surface of the pie, dem it, i knew I would go to Budapest again. Ok. I chose to end the story here. Ponder about how we enjoyed the pie, got off in Vienna happily realising Europe may be wondering politically right, but there are so much more open, friendly and loving people out there. We need to reciprocate and spread the love as well. Would love your hear from you, share your stories and comment.
***btw, to the guy that gave us the pie, if you every read this, shout out. We would love to invite you for an Austrian pie as well. And Bertalan from cloud9plus, if you are ever in Vienna, lets rock!***