Thursday, September 06, 2001


The Hungarian football team. How much do you know about them? Well, in the 50's they were actually the runners up in the World Cup, losing to Italy I believe. However, that was nearly half a century ago and what was the last you heard of their footballing prowess. In fact, I don't think I can even name a single Hungarian football player (if Justin is reading this, then I challenge him to even name one). However, that didn't stop us yesterday from attending Hungary vs Romania in the World Cup Qualifiers. And man, was that an experience.

Yeah, me and Simon took a wander to the stadium yesterday to see if there were any tickets going still, and to our surprise there were. Three price ranges, so we obviously went for the cheapest. 5 quid? Man, that'd buy me food for a week. Or a couple of Slovakian hookers no doubt. But for an international football game, it was pretty good so we got one each, plus one for our Israeli friend "Zaci" (I have no idea how to either write or say his name, it was just a series of sounds unknown to the English language).

And by the way. Although I know my grandfather won't be reading this - don't worry Granpda. I haven't been converted to the Israeli army and I'm still not Jewish. I am however a little more tanned than usual.

So after a day in Budapest wandering around and checking out stuff, like buildings and hills and statues and islands, we headed to the stadium to make it just before kickoff - 8.15pm. Kenneth, a guy from Hong Kong, was also with us.

We got into the stadium, found our seats and suddenly became aware of the cauldron of hatred we had just entered. It seems Hungary needed to win the game to have a chance of World Cup qualification, plus it was against Romania, a neighbouring country. Plus we were in the cheap seats, and the seats nearest to the very fenced off Romanian fans. And plus, everyone was a skinhead.

Anyway, we did survive and quite comfortably, but compared to the game we saw at Trencin, this was an entirely different experience. Trencin was a sunny afternoon with the family. This game was a very wet evening definitely not for the family, unless the family are a bunch of ferocious skinheads of course. The moment the match kicked off, there was a rush of people to the front (seating was entirely disregarded) and a virtually continuous torrent of furious chanting towards the Romanian fans - "Fiyago" being the mos popular. Within five minutes a smoke bomb had gone off right in the middle of this cluster and riot police charged in to break up some fight that had taken place, and the riot police remained at the front the entire game. Various objects were thrown at the police and although I was tempted to join in the fracas, I kept a respectful distance. Actually, I was ok, but it emerged that Zaci was half Romanian which was a fact he wisely didn't disclose to the Hungarian fans.

Anyway, Romania scored after 11 minutes which seemed to subdue the Hungarian fans a little. They still made a hell of a noise but they stopped kicking each other in and letting off bombs.

It ended up 2-0 to Romania, with Hungary squandering some quite awesome chances. Honestly, I even believe a Scottish striker would've done better (mind you, as we lost 2-0 to Belgium, maybe not). So although disappointment for the furious Hungarian fans, it was a big victory for the refeering which I have to say was immaculate. Yup, because the referee was none other than Hugh Dallas, a Scotsman, and the linesmen were also fellow Scots.

So the football game was yesterday's highlight certainly, but the day before (Tuesday) was also quite fun. I wrote my last entry then, but it was upon going back to the hostel that we met Zaci, the Israeli, who was also in our dormitory. He spoke good English and even understood my mutterings, mostly. Simon always speaks BIG and LOUD to foreigners, so they have no problem understanding him, although they probably wonder why he's speaking so BIG and LOUD. He was going out to meet Kenneth, the guy from Hong Kong who was also in our dormintory (though we hadn't met him at the time) so we joined him and got a few photos, then Kenneth went back to the hostel because he was tired, so the three of us had absolutely no choice but to go the pub.

To our horror, we we charged almost 500 Forints for a pint (well, 500mls) at the first pub, which is almost 1 pound 30, so we moved on to a place Zaci knew of, which was only about 70p a pint. You know, still a bit pricey, but you've got to splash out now and again. We were talking for a while when suddenly this girl from either New Zealand or Australia (I forget, but it's the same thing anyway) appeared, having heard our English-speaking. She went to get an ashtray from the neighbouring table, and it turned out they were also from Britain, so they ended up joining us too.

I didn't get to say much to the NZ/Oz girl because I ended up speaking to the three Brits (actually, two Brits and one Finnish guy) - Fee, Timo and Gary. They wre all medics from London and were travelling round mostly Western Europe for about a month, and were staying at the youth hostel me and Simon had tried for, but had been full up. I spoke to them for ages, with drink steadily flowing. Simon didn't like them because they had English accents so he and Zaci left early, but I stayed on and talked about stuff until I looked at my watch and realised it was half 12 and I had half an hour to find my way back to the hostel before the 1am curfew. I made it with a whole 10 minutes to spare.

I think that's about most of our activities of recent (though if you check out Simon's diary, he'll have out in stuff I'd forgotten about. But it's been a fun couple of days, definitely. Today I intend to go to the thermal baths, alone because Simon'a scared of water, and tomorrow we leave Budapest and go to some place called SZxdzxhzdzhdzzddhxzdzdxdzxhzxdxyyy, about 100 miles away. Simon knows some bird there, who doesn't know we're arriving, so we're just going to turn up on her doorstep.

Ok, bye. Write me emails remember, dudes.

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