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October 19, 2006

European Youth Centre in Budapest

Eyc Whilst we were staying in Budapest we stopped at the "European Youth Centre", which was on the opposite side of town to where we had stayed previously.

I had expected it to be quite a grim run-down hostel type building, but it actually transpired to be a very modern building, with great conference facilities and well appointed rooms. They were set up for students to study in, so had proper desks in a working area.

The only thing letting the place down was that the getting anything done was an utter shambles. Organisational skills was obviously not a requirement on their job descriptions.

When we arrived there was some confusion because I had initally only been booked in as an individual, so once I had gone through the rigmarole of registering and getting my meal tickets, they turned to Claire as if she was a completely separate guest.

Chaos ensued. We tried to explain that we were married, so it was OK for us to be in the same bed, or OK for us not to be in the same bed. Whatever. The problem was "my" room only had one set of sheets, so then there was a performance to get in touch with the housekeeper to get extra bedding.

The meal ticket system was another debacle. You were given these blue slips of paper with stamped dates on them, which you had to exchange for your food in the restaurant. Except that in the restaurant you simply chucked them into a little basket, and nobody appeared to check them. You were billed for the meals as part of your overall bill regardless of whether you had actually eaten them or not, so the whole paper ticket thing seemed like a completely redundent waste of time.

Budapestfromeyc On the plus side though, the rooms had a really fast wifi network connection, and the views from the fourth floor out across the city of Budapest were really something.

But even the simple act of arranging to leave was problematic. On the Saturday night we asked reception to book us a taxi for 8am the next morning. No problem. But then as we left the hall we noticed that our room number was up on a notice board next to a time indicating when people were getting their airport minibus pick-up. We didn’t say anything and went upstairs.

A little while later, whilst I was up on the roof trying to take pictures of the city at night, Claire got a phone call from reception checking that she was aware that we had booked both a taxi to the station and a shuttle to the airport.

Claire said that we had never booked a shuttle to the airport, as we had not arrived, nor would we be departing, by aeroplane. Claire said someone else must have booked it and given the worng number by mistake, so not to cancel it as it was probably just an error. She clearly thought Claire was lying though and angrily said to her "So you definitely don’t want the shuttle anymore?". Again Claire tried to explain that we had always been travelling by train, but that clearly someone had booked an airport minibus for that time.

When we went down the next morning the airport shuttle for our room had been pointedly crossed off the list – we just hope the people who wanted it didn’t end up missing their flight.

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