Katie and I were invited to the wedding of one of Katie's uni friends, Tellis, to the love of his life, Barbi, in May 2017. They live in Sweden, where we visited them a couple of years ago, but Barbi is from Hungary and that's where we would be going for the wedding.
When we got the invitation, we looked at the map and noticed that next to Hungary is a country we had never been to, which looked rather interesting to explore - Romania. What could have been a long weekend away for the wedding, turned into a 15 day holiday around Hungary and then Romania. So we did what we do best and set out on our adventure, starting in Budapest, where I was hungover from a work-do the night before.
When we arrived, we picked up our seven-seater rental car from a handsome man who looked like Silas from the show Weeds. I was driving my first ever automatic car (how novel!), and didn't have any incidents as we headed into the centre of town…but also didn't find the hotel. After several loops of the neighbourhood we eventually saw the secluded gate and dropped off the car and our bags before heading out to explore the delights of Budapest on a Thursday night.
We grabbed dinner (which Katie will write about in In My Mouth) and headed to a "ruin bar". This is a relatively new style of bar in Budapest and there are several around the city. They have sprung up in old derelict buildings and unused plots of land, and are popular spots to grab a cheap beer, often accompanied by live music.
We kept seeing one stag party that had been on our flight and loads of hen-dos and other groups of raucous people getting ruined at the ruin bar. Budapest is a hotspot for boozy groups from across Europe. We headed away from the groups and sat outside, where we met a lovely American couple and proceeded to get very drunk and raucous together. They had just quit their jobs and were travelling around Europe at the ripe old age of 29 and 31. That’s how you do it folks! Several beers and several shots later we left the bar and stumbled back to the hotel. Considering Thursday started with a hangover, we did well surviving and drinking til 3am!
The next day I drove to pick up our friends and take them to the wedding. Michael is a good friend from Blackpool, currently living in Ireland, and he managed to get sunburned while waiting in the car park for us to arrive. He works for YouTube so any questions or comments you have about this wonderful video service should be directed at him. Joking aside, it's fascinating hearing about his job and what life is like in the Dublin head office. A blog post about this is coming, as we did visit him and the Google head office in 2016. We might wait for him to leave Google before we post it though…
Our first stop was at Lake Valence, which was a quaint little body of water and a great introduction to Hungary's landscape. Our love affair with these beautiful lands had started.
Next up was the much larger Lake Balaton, which we referred to as Lake Bell End throughout because we are so mature. We started at the tip then headed down the shaft, taking it all in, before stopping for lunch.
I was surrounded by German language graduates and since the Hungarians seemed to prefer to speak German than English, their useless degrees turned out to be slightly less useless than usual! We all fancied pizza, but apparently couldn't have it unless we wanted to wait until the next day, which is the longest serving time I can ever remember being given. We decided not to wait because, as you know, we had a wedding to get to!
The wedding venue was located at what can only be described as the ball sack of Lake Bell End. After several wrong turns into the venue itself, we finally arrived where we needed to be. We were greeted by two huge stalks, which were more exotic than peacocks to our English eyes. The venue and grounds were beautiful and spacious, and our room was a delight too.
Before moving on, I want to give a big shout-out to Liam who, due to his long legged nature, had to sit in the front and was therefore the defacto navigator, which he did a very good job of.
The wedding itself was a wonderful experience. The ceremony was held outside in the beautiful garden, and the very charming MC did a fantastic job of translating everything into English so we all knew what was going on. There was a hilarious moment when the ceremony was put on hold so that we could be treated to a one-man-one-guitar (slightly out of tune) rendition of the Friends theme tune, which was a complete surprise to everyone, including the bride and groom! Michael did a fine job of being a witness and of course, Barbi looked beautiful.
Throughout the evening we experienced many Hungarian traditions, such as the groom drinking palinka from the bride’s shoe. Palinka is a Hungarian spirit, made from a variety of fruits. It's incredibly strong and was being drunk by the gallon! At one point there was a palinka tasting competition, which definitely tipped those involved over the edge.
Part way through the party, Barbi and Tellis disappeared and when they returned, Barbi's white wedding dress had been replaced by a red one. I think we can all guess what this represented...
There was an abundance of food throughout the night and everyone had a great time. As you'd expect from a wedding, there was plenty of drinking and dancing and the party was still going strong when we bowed out some time after midnight. We just couldn't keep up with the locals, and we had a long drive ahead of us, back to Budapest the next day.
|Budapest has a beautiful train station|
|The hills surrounding the wedding venue were beautiful, and dotted with quaint houses and lots of grape vines|
|We explored the local village on the morning of the wedding. There was a market with loads of interesting goods, including these smiley picked vegetables!|
|The bride, groom and the Fantastic Five|
|So much food at the wedding!|
|Despite not being a big drinker and really disliking palinka, Michael did pretty well in the taste test!|
|I couldn't get over how huge the grapes were! No wonder the region makes so much wine!|