(Photo above, with just some the culinary treats found in the Christmas Markets, Budapest Hungary)
For this episode of feel like an idiot, we are going to talk about currency and about having an understanding, or having a clue, or a small grasp on the situation in some countries. As always research is always a good thing before travelling to a country and currency is one of those important aspects of every amazing place you travel to.
So here’s the story. Planning a month long trip to Europe was 6 to 8 months in the making. When looking and arranging travel which included flights, buses and water taxis. We went into great detail working out each of the 4 cities we were visiting with accommodations (AirBnB recommended) and the sights we wanted to see and photograph. While most of the Western European countries live with the Euro, it isn’t always the case when you go to the East.
Our first country we visited was Hungary and the incredible city of Budapest. We were so excited about the history and the sights, where we were staying, walking along the Danube and taking in the Christmas Markets that little time was spent by us understanding the Forint or HUF for short. One US Dollar converts to about 289 HUF, so you know right away that when we look at prices, things could get lost in translation. This happened while visiting one of the breathtaking Christmas Markets in the heart of the city. The sights and sounds of the locals and tourists interacting, laughing and exchanging stories of the cultures and where everyone is from to family histories shared among each other talking about holiday traditions in Hungary or back home. It is an atmosphere and experience you can only truly understand if you visit them yourself. One of the other great things about these markets is of course the food. Local favorites, holiday treats, shared customs from across Europe that only come out once a year. You spend more time deciding what to eat, until the only right decision is to eat it all…or at least attempt it.
In Hungary, they are famous for the spice Paprika and many of their dishes celebrate this flavor. In the Christmas Market, the Paprika spiced sausage on a bun is a crowd favorite and quickly became one of ours. We each ordered one and were told the price, which came to about 1700 HUF….not being familiar with the currency, the accent, etc., we handed her a 20000 bill and said keep the change thinking it was a 2000 bill. All we can say, is thankfully she was an honest and pleasant woman, who laughed at our offer but also knew we had no clue what we were doing. Two sausages for $7.00 with tip just turned into $7.00 sausages with a $63.00 tip. Travelling a lot, we know that some people would actually take advantage of the situation and take the money as a reward from stupid tourists.
Thank you honest Paprika Sausage Lady. Travel Tip #2…pay attention to the zeros.