Friday, April 27, 2012

A Medical Drama in Budapest

The poor half starved beast sank down under his weight and said to his rider. 'You will have to go on foot this time. Thanks to hard-work and bad food you have turned me from a horse to an ass; and you cannot in a moment turn me back into a horse.'”
Aesops Fables

Food poisoning becomes part and parcel with any travel; however in Hungary I experienced the worst I have ever had to date (and I've eaten some truly horrendous food and survived, e.g. 100 year old eggs and chicken heads!). This is not a slur on Hungarian food but after spending a large period of time in Eastern Europe it was no surprise to see dumplings, goulash, and stew, once again on the menu.
From an organic perspective there is little to complain about their style of cooking. They are very keen on seasonal fruit and vegetables and use them to make their hearty stews. But it is the sheer quantity of meat that spoils these dishes. Great lumps of processed meat fill these dishes and leave little room for anything else. Veal, steaks, pork, beef, poultry, lamb and the speciality Hungarian sausage Kolbasz all dominate these dishes to the extreme. My food poisoning arose from one such dish and still to this day, it leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth. Hungarian food is nothing to get too excited about unless you are an unstoppable carnivore; then you will be right at home!!

Now British Rail are certainly no saints but our arrival into Hungary made us question our definitions of punctuality. Our train was from Bulgaria and crossed through Belgrade to get to Budapest. It was a sleeper train and was scheduled to be a 15 hour train journey. Long but certainly manageable. We were not allowed to ever leave this train because it was crossing borders. Therefore we bought up large quantities of olives, bananas and nutella (A travellers staple diet!!) to survive the journey. We were then locked on the train, and had no where to go. The train departed but halfway through the journey it bcame delayed and was held at a station. Normally when you are held at a station in the U.K. this can be anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes. We were held for 15-hours in Belgrade Central station. 

Hmmm.. so our arrival into Budapest was not the most pleasant. To relax we went to one of Budapest's famous spas but being four British lads we had no concept of Bulgarian spa etiqueete which led to some rather bizzare enconters with naked enraged Hungarians. That evening I decided to get food poisioning which saw me zoomed off to the local Hungarian hospital. This was a novel experience. The combination of over and under cooked meat was too much for my stomach to handle and left me convelscent for five days. In hospital we met a fascinating, soft-speaking, bearded, Australian who incesently enquired ‘what’s the bird, with the really big beak.... ????? and retold a story about how he had spent all his mother money on a suit of armour in Germany but that he was finding it very hard to tranport. This was not the only mentally challenged individual we met in the hospital, and I began to fear that I may have been sectioned. So with great haste we departed the hospital fled across the border for the Czech Republic in the hope for better medical intervention. This resulted in us staying in a porn studio style hotel room with leather padded cusion walls and tan leather doors, but that's another story....

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