Once, in the holiday camp, I was not in a holiday camp but in Budapest. To celebrate New Year’s Eve 2012/13.
Together with a friend I had rented an apartment. When we stood in front of the house which was directly in the city centre, at Fővám tér, near Liberty Bridge, I realized that this was a normal living house and there was nothing like a rececption. So I called the lessor to ask him how we would get the keys and inside the house. He said: “Oh, that is really bad”, and told us that it would not be possible for us to stay in that house. He said we should meet him at a different adress which he sent to us via SMS.
At that moment I started to feel a bit crumbly. None of my friends or family knew where I was and if this guy would kidnap us nobody would have missed me (because, you know, I don’t have friends). This feeling did get a bit worse when we arrived at the given address: a once grand building from the 1920s, but today in a bad state. To be honest, at a first glance it looked like a crack house. That our apartment in the backyard hat 5 doorlocks let questions arise, too.
In addition, when we arrived in the apartment, I was asked to pay the whole stay in advance. This was the moment when I found myself sitting there with this funny Hungarian currency called Forint. The exchange rate between Euro and Forint is like 1:300 which means I had several hundreds of thousands of Forint in my hands – and did not really know what they were worth. And the lessor kept telling me huge numbers while I kept counting money for him and was thinking: “How much is it that I am actually just paying? Is it my whole annual salary? Or is still not enough? I can hardly count to that high numbers!”
Finally, I had paid, received my key to the apartment and started to think something like: “Tonight the lessor and his accomplices will come into this apartment, using a second key, rob us and take our organs like liver and kidney!”
That was exactly the moment when I also started criticising myself. My thoughts were like these: “Would I expect the same if all that – the change of the location, the cash paying in advance – would not have happened in Budapest but in Paris? No. But for me as a guy from West Berlin the country of Hungary is still former Soviet Union, nowadays barbarian East Europe and most people here live from stealing cars and human trafficking!”
I had to admit it: I had prejudices.
From that moment on I could sleep very well. Because I had realized that all fear come from the inside of me. We experienced 6 wonderful days in this glorious city and some months later, I went there again together with my son. He who likes London and Paris a lot said that Budapest was as fascinating as these two metropolises.
Having experienced this, I really love going to places that I am actually in fear of. Like in autumn of 2015 when I travelled through many parts of Turkey. I do this to persuade myself of the idea that this world is not as bad and dangerous as it often seems.
And look – I am still alive and had such great experiences!