Budapest Blues

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Earlier in the month of March, I traveled to Budapest, Hungary with a new friend that I met while abroad in London. We were in Budapest for only two days so I did not think that it was necessary to buy a public transportation card, as our AirBnb was in a very accessible location both to the airport and central Budapest. The first time I got on a tram in Budapest the inspector on the tram allowed me to pay on the spot with my card so I was under the understanding that I did not have to purchase a ticket before getting on a tram each time. By the second time I got on a tram, the inspector was very upset with me and immediately pointed to a sign on the inside of the tram (which was written in Hungarian) about regulations revolving around paying 12,000 HUF.

The first time an inspector came up to me on the tram, my friend and I were very apprehensive about acknowledging this inspector just because he did not have his badge on initially. As I had never been to Budapest beforehand and had also never had an interaction with ticket inspectors, I was faced with a situation that I did not anticipate would happen. The first step I took was engaging in a conversation with the ticket inspector off of the tram. I explained to him that this was my first time traveling to Budapest and that I was not aware of the implications of not having a physical valid ticket before boarding a tram. I also told him about my past experience on the tram, just earlier that day, and how the inspector did not mention any fines and had me pay on the spot for a ticket. He told me that I must abide by the regulations here in Hungary and that an immediate payment on the spot for the fine was necessary.

I was honestly very shaken because I have never paid a fine for not abiding by the rules, especially in a foreign country that I’ve never been to, but I was able to sort out the situation by paying the fine and being recommended by the inspector what steps I can take next time to avoid situations like this. While I wish I did not have to experience this, I know for next time I am in a similar situation to look up the transportation rules across buses, metros, overground trains, trams, etc., and purchase a transportation card in advance. While this specific example had to do with transportation, this taught me in the grand scheme of things that there is importance in being thorough and detailed about the regulations unique to each country, as it may obviously differ from my host country. Despite this little unfortunate occurrence, I had such a memorable time in Budapest and have attached pictures of my favorite landmarks.