The story I cannot tell my friends

Q: How was your trip in Europe?

It turns out that denying that I took a trip at all is not so viable. It seems my subconscious strategy is to tell people what they would kind of expect, which bores them the fastest until they’re convinced that they’re not missing anything interesting, and we never have to talk about it again.

If I could share my story in a way that resonates with me, purely for my own emotional benefit and without consideration for the listener, this is probably what I’d want to say.

It was a big deal. My god, I was so happy. It was fun and challenging and confusing and scary. I learned so much about life and about myself. But I never expected or planned to be happy there, and the stark contrast with my social life at home has left me deeply confused and conflicted.

No questions please.

Maybe one day…


Award ceremony for my trip

Just for fun. Please don’t hurt me.


Alcohol – Bozzante (house-made) from Zeller Bistro, Budapest, Hungary
Bread – Cozonac in Timișoara, Romania
Castle – Peleș Castle, Sinaia, Romania
Donut – from the popular Stara Paczkarnia, Wroclaw, Poland
Exhibit – European Art Gallery at MNaR, Bucharest, Romania
Friendliest local strangers – Romania
Group convo with locals – Belgrade, Serbia
Heartfelt goodbye – Győr, Hungary
Ice cream – personal recommendation in Győr, Hungary
Just curious how long it takes everyone to rush home for the Easter feast after the penultimate Easter church service – INVITED!!! in Cluj, Romania
‘Kidnap’ experience – family car trip in Racoș, Romania
Laughing with a stranger after exchanging a single look – Sibiu, Romania
Music performance – Thalia Hall, Sibiu, Romania
Nature – Romania
Overview of a city – Mount Tampa, Brașov, Romania
Peer pressure – partying in Krakow, Poland
Quote – “young and stupid,” in transit to Wroclaw, Poland
Restaurant – the Artist, Bucharest, Romania
Soup – Jókai bableves at Paprika Vendéglő, Budapest, Hungary
Train comfort – Poland
Unexpected conversation – “hello” near the end of a long train ride, Budapest, Hungary
View from bus/train – across Slovakia
Where on earth am I? – waking up in Kecskemét, Hungary
XD – being lost 10 seconds after saying I know the way in Budapest, Hungary
Yummy confectionary – anything from German brand Haribo, Hungary
Zipline / obstacle course – Parc Aventura, Brasov, Romania


Creepy “Egyptian eye” windows – German buildings in Sibiu, Romania
Deliberate trolls on social apps – Romania
Destroyed – Badminton klub Beograd, Serbia
Homeless people
– Budapest, Hungary
How did this happen? – struck on the head by a descending barrier gate, Sibiu, Romania
Ice-cold shower – Brasov, Romania
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the ride from Pécs to Budapest that three sources state is a bus and three sources state is a train. Where the hell do I find it? (Hint: follow the “train replacement bus” signs within the platform area.)
Is there more to it than trying to make people feel depressed? – Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, Poland
Most beggars
  – Belgrade, Serbia
Rudest customer service – pizza place in Belgrade, Serbia
Street racism – feinted for laughs in Pécs, Hungary
Too strong – homemade Rakija, Belgrade, Serbia
Tours in English  – Romania
Train tickets give zero info about trains? – Hungary

Unhealthiest cuisine – Belgrade, Serbia
Worst accommodation – hotel in Győr, Hungary
Worst upper-tier restaurant – Belgrade, Serbia

Personal highlights of Budapest

Probably not what you were expecting.

Although I inevitably enjoyed my time in Budapest, I didn’t really ‘like’ the city that much. I’ll admit, I was intimidated by how industrious the whole place was. Regardless, here are some things I liked, didn’t like, and the things in between.

Top three things

1. Dining at Zeller Bistro

Possibly the most recommended restaurant by locals, it’s fine dining at a very affordable price. Their welcome drink is a house-made elderflower sparkling wine called Bozzante. It is absolutely amazing; I’ve never felt that about any alcoholic drink before, and this drink alone is one of the highlights of my whole trip. (I bought two bottles to take home.)

Aside from that marvel, their food is delicious and service is also excellent. Although reservations are required, the restaurant is far from full at the opening hour (lunchtime) and the staff are friendly and attentive. They’re sensitive to the fact that some people may want a more personal interaction with the staff, and they’re quite happy to answer questions that no fine diner should have to ask.

To add to the list of ridiculous things you’ll read on this blog, I realized that:

Going to a restaurant isn’t always just about eating; it’s also a human experience.

2. Gellért Hill / Citadel / Liberty Statue

Watching the Chain Bridge from sunset to late was underwhelming for me. Looking out from Gellért Hill over the city was much more significant. That’s how I felt, anyway.

3. Walking around

At the start of my trip I vowed to reevaluate all my hobbies. It took me all this time to realize how much I enjoy walking alone. Mentally, my time is spent: navigating; looking at the surroundings as if I just woke up from a long coma; trying to figure out why something is the way that it is; daydreaming; and involuntarily recalling cheerful memories from throughout my trip.

I’m not an architecture enthusiast, but I enjoyed the streets of Budapest a lot. The buildings looked good somehow without necessarily… looking good.

Honorable mentions

Milka shake (with Milka chocolate instead of Oreos) at McDonalds. This is amazing, but for some reason there’s no McDonalds at Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport (BUD)… o(TヘTo)

EPIC Burger (Dohány u. 12). Their Oreo shake is the best I’ve had in its category (including the Milka shake above). Their sweet potato fries are also great. Burgers are good. Exceptional customer service for a ‘mere’ burger place, almost good enough for me to go back just for that. (But of course it was the Oreo shake.) They really pay attention to the small details that no one else does.

Free Budapest Walking Tour. Three other cities and a Budapest city tour later, I finally started to understand why Hungarians have such an attitude that’s evident enough to be detected in their everyday mannerisms. Or in terms of something more normal, as with any great walking tour, they’ll leave you with at least one fact you’ll never forget.


Danube river, Chain Bridge, and other bridges.  Generally great views, but I’m sure that the best places to chill by the Danube are not in Budapest.

Cafe Vian. Both restaurants are pretty good.

Szimpla Kert. OK, it is pretty unique.

WestEnd City Center. One of the larger shopping malls. The layout of the mall is more practical than those I saw in Wroclaw and Bucharest, but somehow the selection of stores was too normal (lacking in extravagance or tourist appeal) for me.

“Other” mentions

Jewish District Walk (Free tour, run by same company as above). I found it boring. The content and route really threw me off. Other people seemed satisfied, although maybe that’s because we ended at Szimpla Kert, the celebrated ruin pub.

Rudas Bath. I get the impression from online sources that Rudas Bath is probably the second least touristy thermal bath in Budapest. [Veli Bej is the least touristy one with the genuine naked men experience (optional frontal loincloth, rear coverage is possible if you’re desperate, and trunks are allowed if you don’t mind looking out of place).] It’s meant to have six thermal baths and a swimming pool, but I only found one large thermal bath and four smaller thermals. I’m not sure if the swimming pool was closed or where it was hiding, because no one else seemed to find it either. Not that I would have swum anyway wearing glasses, which thankfully didn’t get fogged up except in the steam room. While I’ve never been in anything like this thermal spa before, my reaction after spending 10 seconds in the large bath was “What was I expecting? This is literally all it is, a big spa like in the picture. I’m bored already.” I like watching and listening to water, but not really being in it. Things only got more interesting as I subjected myself to various degrees of torture between the cold spa (28°C?!), saunas, and steam room. Maybe that’s the whole point? I don’t know. Ever been curious about how it feels to be roasted alive? Try the 60-70°C sauna.


Photos. It’s difficult enough to take good photos in Budapest (you’ll find out), but to make matters worse everyone has a way more expensive camera than you, every tenth guy looks like a professional photographer whose only purpose is to take pictures, and when you finally find a perfect frame there’s guaranteed to be one or more tripod campers in your way; if there aren’t any, then trust me one will appear and set up right in front of you. You might as well set out to take pictures of tripods and photographers… and make an exhibition out of that…

Photos. Have you seen those photos? They look amazing, and then you go see the real thing and it looks dull in comparison. Chain Bridge. Hungarian Parliament. New York Cafe. These photos don’t capture reality, and they’re probably heavily edited too.

Photos. The general standard of Budapest postcards are pretty good compared to postcards from the other cities I went to. The main drawback? The photos (if one can even call them that) are definitely not real, but that’s the reason why they look good…

Locals. The people of Budapest are even less friendly than Hungarians in general. I admit they’re generally civil, but ‘thanks’ seems to be absent from everyday vocab and I was surprised to hear “leave us 5 stars or nothing” in speech. I figured that nine full days in Budapest would be more than enough to meet up one-on-one with locals. Not so; only travelers, expats, and newer residents were willing.

Budapest snobs. Despite my limited tools, I think I did figure out what makes a Budapest snob. It doesn’t have much to do with what attracts tourists. Rather, it’s in the normal hustle and bustle. Busy by day and active at night. The freedom to be selfish while having a healthy social life. Favorite places to eat or get away. Options for whatever you’re into.

It’s about niche.

Restoration work. It’s mind-blowing how much restoration work goes on in Budapest. It feels like an unstoppable feedback loop of tourists, reputation, investors, and restoration.

I’m entitled to one rant full of swear words

I admit it… I spent more than a week in Belgrade.

Belgrade was the one city on my trip that was overall not that enjoyable despite a fair share of amazing things happening. Let’s just say I got sick, although it was worse than that. Incidentally, I was determined to leave Serbia, fully recovered or not, and I suddenly felt fine as soon as I left the country. But there’s one thing that absolutely triggered me: the lack of tourist information in English.

swear words swear words swear words swear words swear words swear words swear words swear words swear words swear words swear words swear words swear words swear words swear words swear words swear words

I’ve never seriously considered writing a page full of expletives until I came across the pathetic information support for commuting in Belgrade. At first, the support seems to be absent. By absent, I mean you have to do things the old fashioned way: by reading a physical map. Now, I don’t do map reading in English, let alone Cyrillic; I only follow navigated paths. Google Maps has no public transport data. There must be some sort of equivalent trip planner for buses, right? Yes and no. Not really. Sorry, but street names in English aren’t recognized. Sorry, but street names in Cyrillic aren’t recognized. Actually it is but it has to be in the precise but unspecified format for street addresses. Sorry, we don’t know which street you mean because there are multiple such streets within different suburbs of Belgrade. But no venue will bother stating which area they’re in. Okay, finally found it by manually comparing maps? Sorry, but we only give you the closest bus connections but not the walking parts of the trip. FFFFFFFFFFFuck.

Whatever. I don’t care anymore. Next time I’ll read the damn map. Sorry, but the bus stops going one way aren’t the same as the other way. Also, that’s not even the name of the stop we announce on the bus. I got off the bus equidistant to my destination…

I’m honestly baffled by the total failure of what I experienced. I was also warned that tourist information is extremely limited in Serbia, and it is. Researching suitable places for hiking is an arduous process. The so-called well-established hiking routes… I was invited to go and it took all my ‘discipline’ to say no. I’m glad I didn’t go.

What can I say? If they were deliberately trying to make things bad for English speakers, they couldn’t have done a better job. Seriously, did no one identify these problems and think to solve them? “Even” Google hasn’t figured it out, or maybe they knew it wasn’t worth it.

It’s hard to explain why (probably the Fe grip for Ti dom), but the state of affairs made me unreasonably angry. It was simply incomprehensible how it could have come to be like that accidentally or otherwise.

My issue in Belgrade was that my basic living conditions were not really met. But despite my rough time there and avoiding writing about it for a month, I’m slowly realizing that my fond memories there still stick and have the stronger impression. There was a lot of untapped potential.

What is the purpose of travel?

“Too often travel, instead of broadening the mind, merely lengthens the conversation.”
— Elizabeth Drew

Having been overseas for over two months, I’ve occasionally wondered what the purpose of travel is for other people and for myself. Other personal questions include:

  • How much of the non-material things that I’ve gained here will I actually be able to take home?
  • Are these experiences with people real (and repeatable) or are people only nice because I’m a visitor? (Or both?)
  • Is all of this personal development I’m experiencing going to the right box, or will that box be put away when I go home and everything reset to normal? How bad will the mood crash be once I get home?

Aside: how INTPs feel about travel

It’s kind of funny especially relating to that last point: in an informal survey of INTPs, I found that many of us don’t like to talk about our travel experiences with family, friends, and colleagues. Some of us will pretend like our trip never happened. We only want to talk about it in a high quality conversation and to say exactly what we want to say. This usually requires a friend who’s trusted for that purpose. People who ask about the trip but don’t have to the right or capacity to receive our full enthusiastic answer will often just get a minimal response like “It was fun.” Something that can be annoying is when someone feels they have the privilege to hear your full answer and when they don’t get it they keep asking the wrong questions. We like relevant deepening questions the most. Broadening questions can surprise us but are not unwelcome. Irrelevant and presumptuous deepening questions that are about how the listener wants or expects to think are bad. (INTPs are often highly misunderstood by women, especially the kind of women who think they understand us despite virtually every past experience contributing to evidence of the contrary. Another thing that’s kind of funny. I talk slow when I’m recalling things and I want to pick the right words to describe something. When it comes to abstract ideas, people who habitually try to guess how I’ll complete my sentence almost never guess the right way.) It can very quickly send us to the conclusion “Okay, this conversation is pointless. Minimal answers from now on, end as soon as possible.”

In short, we often prefer to solicit the right listener, and preferably a listener who is actually good at listening. I should point out that being a good listener is a relative thing; you can be a good listener to most people yet fail spectacularly when it comes to INTPs, for example.

All of the above coupled with never finding the right words in a conversation is why I’ve gravitated to writing as the most faithful form of expression. (As a minor benefit, why explain something poorly multiple times in online correspondences when I could just refer to a blog post with my exact thoughts?)

Why do other people travel?

This was my first completely independent solo trip, so it made sense for me to consult on other people’s thoughts. Here are some of the answers to “What is the purpose of travel?”

The simplest reasons

  • For business/employment purposes
  • For medical tourism
  • For religious purposes
  • For shopping
  • For study or conference purposes
  • For training purposes
  • To attend a specific event (e.g., concert or marathon)
  • To challenge oneself and expand one’s comfort zone
  • To escape stress and other burdens
  • To find or experience adventure
  • To learn about culture
  • To learn more about yourself, others, and the world
  • To meet new people and make new friends
  • To not be bored
  • To party
  • To see the nature/beauty of the world
  • To take a break from routine
  • To visit family/friends/other

More involved answers and indirect answers referring to benefits

To share experiences with people you’ll never see again

I think exploring that common humanity is nice, but it doesn’t really sound like a reason.

To tick items off a list so you can brag about it or in response to a fear of missing out

People can do what they wanna do, even if that means visiting Belgrade for one day just to “see how un-European it is.” Despite my inexperience and tragic lack of knowledge about geography/history, I’ve realized that I’m not the least aware traveler when it comes to cultural appreciation.

I’ve certainly experienced the fear of missing out and it has influenced some of my decisions. I’m slowly learning to let it go, because I think it’s not a constructive feeling and it stems from emotional insecurity rather than rational considerations. If you’re comfortable with who you are and what you’re doing, and you choose to be genuine in the moment, there’s no good reason to be anxious about the (often false) perceived consensus of what everyone else thinks is universally worthwhile.

Travel gives us the chance to be truly engaged in an activity, to develop new skills and to discover new cultures. It brings us closer to ourselves and others.

I agree with this; in my own words I’d say:
You get to enjoy things you usually wouldn’t, sometimes because you don’t have a better choice but to enjoy it since you’re already there.

That said, it seems hard to pin this down as a specific reason for traveling, especially if you often have no idea what you might come across once you get to your destination.

To explore the unknown, and to just go with the flow

I suppose this is something you can “plan”, in a manner of speaking.

Learn to take care of yourself

I definitely see this as a side effect of traveling; by learning about culture, food, language, people, art, economy, etc, we inevitably pick up some new ideas on how to live our own lives. Learn from people who do it better than you. I’m a hypocrite for saying this (and not in the sense of the usual negative connotation), but I think this is usually a side effect rather than a primary intention.

Traveling is an art.

Okay, I think that explains. All artists are crazy (the question is just to what degree and in what way) so we travel because we’re crazy enough to.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do….” — Mark Twain

Travel is not a reward for working, it’s an education for living.

Multiple people mention that quote from Mark Twain. The full quote does seem to be referring to travel specifically. Except Mark Twain never actually wrote this, and it’s also a stupid quote so I don’t think he’d be happy to have it wrongly attributed to him. Referring to this quote really does not support a specific reason and it’s not like anyone will respond like “I’m so convinced about going traveling now; I don’t want to feel that disappointment in twenty years,” unless they already had other motivations.

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” — William Shakespeare, Pablo Picasso, and whoever else you want to misattribute it to.

The purpose of life is to discover your gift.
The work of life is to develop it.
The meaning of life is to give your gift away.

—David Viscott

The first one is another meaningless quote. The second one which might be considered the original statement makes a bit more sense. I suppose that by traveling and exploring the unknown, one might come to stumble upon some clues as to what they want to do with their lives.

Would you regret NOT traveling the world?

I’m pretty sure many INTPs including myself would answer no. However, I might regret not finding a place where I feel like I belong, but I don’t have to travel the world to find it.

Maybe travel can help you find the purpose that you’re lacking in the first place.

May be.

Other general comments and discussion

Travel broadens the mind.

Travel helps you learn about yourself and increase your resilience.

Although there are many unpredictable aspects of travel, I think we encourage other people to travel for the first time because we know, at a certain level, that it can very much be an eye-opening, life-changing experience. It’s not necessarily that for everyone, but overall it is not unlikely to be the beginning of a journey of many things. The part where we’re forced to adapt and grow and be challenged and surprised and reconsider—one might argue that that is in fact foreseeable on an intuitive level, just not a logical one. The only practical advice, then, is “Do it!”

A personal example is the number of times I’ve told myself: I’m done with churches. There is nothing that can possibly impress me anymore. Oh, how I’ve been made a believer. I guess that’s the thing. You don’t know what might really fascinate you in the moment. In rational terms, our understanding of other places and cultures is so so limited that there’s almost bound to be something we’ve never seen, never thought about, never experienced before that will leave us a strong impression. There are precious opportunities for our preconceptions to be proven wrong if we allow it.

It opens up your possibilities and your horizons and the kinds of conversations you can have, the kinds of experiences you can have.

My goodness, I’ve had so many new normal experiences that I’ve never experienced at home. The conditions aren’t favorable where I live and it’s hard to do something when you don’t know how to and you don’t know it’s even possible. For one thing, people over here actually think I’m an interesting person and a worthwhile friend, whereas life has always told me the opposite must be true. I’m able to form genuine connections here, and what this means is that the same should be possible at home. There must be some people I can connect with like this. Maybe it’ll require a different approach to find these people, but I’m inspired to keep trying despite the odds.

I want to visit every country in the world.

This kinda makes me cringe because I can’t understand it. I’ve met someone who has visited over 100 countries. He didn’t seem particularly different to someone who’s visited 40 or even “just” 10 countries. I get that trying different things is a path of learning. I get that surrounding yourself by the unknown is a unique experience. But if there’s really any objective goal aside from being able to say you’ve been to every country, I feel that this approach necessarily sacrifices depth for the sake of breadth. Although INTPs usually have our fingers in a lot of pies, we definitely value quality over quantity. For me, I would rather explore “just enough” to figure out some favorite places to visit, then mostly revisit around those places. (That said, tastes change with the seasons of life, as do people and places.) One could think of it in terms of the diminishing returns on visiting new countries when you already have some favorites that are very suitable for further enjoyment. One thing I’m starting to realize about myself:

Life is too short to be objective.

Actually, I have no idea what this means. The words just popped out.

Travel provides context apart from me.

This context can include, for example, awareness of and compassion for others. I’m not one of those people that can naturally sympathize like that. I care about people on a personal basis, but I cannot feel the pain of a whole nation. Even if I could, I wouldn’t want to. I think it’s irrational and non-beneficial. If I were a philanthropist, I’d rather be one who pretends not to care.

Travel as an escape does not make up for having a soul-destroying job or other unsatisfactory life conditions. You can’t escape reality by traveling.

Actually, I traveled in order to escape my studies (which I no longer consider to be important) and search for reality away from the corruption of my past. Anyhow, I don’t really know, but I feel like some people cope really well with difficult jobs and then have really good holidays too. I’m too lazy to persist in doing something I don’t enjoy, even though I’ve basically been persisting like that with education for most of my young adult life. The key difference is that I didn’t realize what was going on.

That said, I feel that there are definitely some jobs that you can’t recover from through travel (or anything else). I mean, can you really enjoy money and travel after you’ve sold your soul?

It’s about the adventure of exploring the unknown, and going with the flow of the unplanned.

Adventure for the sake of adventure. So not me. I like experiments for the sake of learning, but adventure is another thing. This kind of reminds me of what is said about BJJ: To train in BJJ is to continually drown—or, rather, to be drowned, in sudden and ingenious ways—and to be taught, again and again, how to swim. Maybe those adrenaline junkies should try it.

Travel should always have a purpose.

I agree; I think you’ll get less out of something if you don’t at least have some idea of what you want. Locals say this a lot too: “depends on what you’re looking for.”

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. — Lewis Carroll

Mom: Was your trip fun?
Traveler: I learned a lot.


The purpose of my trip

As cheesy as it may sound, the purpose of my trip was to find, learn more about, and develop the real me. I had specific ideas for how I was to go about doing that, though a lot of it went differently to how I expected.

The reason for traveling, as opposed to just taking time off at home, was to distance myself from everyone in my life and all that might have reminded me of my past. Traveling solo is good for not caring what other people think about you. I chose my destinations (originally only Romania and Hungary) in order to not spend too much more than I would usually at home. (There were other contenders of course, but in the wrong season.) It was never really about traveling so much as travel being a good way to experience a fresh, unfamiliar environment and expand my comfort zone and gain a better understanding of myself through the trials to come. The opportunity to practice interacting with people without lasting repercussions on failing was another perceived benefit.

I have to say that I miscalculated on the ideal length of this trip. One month less would have been perfect as there were clear diminishing returns. No matter how much freedom I have, I still need an actual haven in the end. About halfway through, I’d absorbed all that I needed and more. I was tired. I was inspired enough. What I needed was a private space to play; to create and internalize some of the things I learned and make them my own.

As much as I really started getting into this travel thing, my instincts assert that I’m not a traveler or explorer. I simply happened to need travel at the time.

Quotes I like

People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.

To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.

I really hope these are true.

Not until we are lost do we begin to find ourselves.

Basically the right idea.

If an ass goes traveling he will not return a horse.

I like it 😛

(If you’re confused, this is supposedly a proverb, not a travel quote.)

My final answer

I never intended to submit my own answer since my trip initially had clear objectives. However, I started asking the question because I was drawn to the experiences that travel brings in a way that distracted me from my goals. I couldn’t explain why I had to try things that I didn’t need to or even want to. I wanted justification or assurance that I wasn’t wasting my time chasing after the fleeting. For better or worse, I went along with it mostly. When one of your secondary goals is to have the bravery to make mistakes, you’re bound to achieve either way ;). Besides, this is hopefully not going to be my last trip. I’m very slow at processing the general picture and it’s completely fine if I overlooked some things. It’ll come one day.

So, for my “answer.” Actually, it’s part of the indirect / non-answer category, but I’d like to share it anyway.

Travel is an investment in one’s personal growth and development.

Although my trip has not officially ended, I’m inclined to summarize my overall experience as follows:

I never wanted to be this happy, but soon I won’t have to be. (º̩̩́⌣º̩̩̀ʃƪ)


I’m scared

I’m scared.

This could be my third day in Budapest spent hiding in my room.

I’m tired of people. I don’t want to meet anyone new. I’m tired of going out and seeing things. I was ready to go home a month ago.

It’s like when I first landed in Bucharest again. Have I learned nothing since then?

No, this is different. I’m socially exhausted and tired of analysis and I can feel this two-month Fe grip soon to crash.

And I’m afraid for different reasons. I’m scared that I won’t like Budapest when everyone seems to love it. I’m scared that I’ll like it. I’m scared that I won’t have enough time to decide how I feel. I’m wary of making new friends while I’m all too aware of the oncoming crash. Will any of my new friends from this trip stand the test of time and distance?

To get food

Outside is not so bad. What did I feel so overwhelmed by that I had to hide?

It must be that I have really high activation energy thresholds lately. There must be a way around it… I can lower them by manipulating my mood.

Budapest is my oyster

I’ve spent almost two weeks in other parts of Hungary, and Krakow was part of my training too. Why should I feel unprepared?

It’s a matter of confidence. I own this place. I’m not visiting Budapest so much as Budapest is having the privilege of hosting me. Focus less on what Budapest has to offer and more on how it can serve my needs.


My friend has ‘reminded’ me to get Jókai bean soup from Paprika Vendéglő in Budapest five times over the last month. Okay okay. This time I’ll order the right soup. How good can it possibly be though? Soup is just an appetizer to warm your stomach.

I was shocked from the first mouthful. Soup isn’t meant to be this good. It really made me reflect on my life views.

Try Jókai bean soup at Paprika Vendéglő. Their Gulyás is also better/different to other places. I do not recommend any of their other dishes—just too salty.

A walking tour to ease the discomfort of not knowing anything

Look at these humans doing their normal human things. I can barely stand it. It seems difficult for me to mimic their behaviors.

A public meetup

My gosh, people are so easy to talk to. And so adorable. Humans can be really surprising sometimes; I didn’t expect this at all. How can such simple and relaxed conversations be so fun? Freaking Fe… whatever, just let it flow.

Realizing the fatal flaw

I know why I’ve felt overwhelmed about Budapest. There’s too much hype and expectation surrounding the place. I’ve been putting pressure on myself to understand something that is not actually supported by facts.

Travel is a subjective experience. There doesn’t have to be a logic behind whether we enjoy something or not. Trying to analyze Budapest as a whole is the wrong approach. I should be feeling my way around information, the buildings, and the city as a whole. This would make things less overwhelming and less stressful. It requires a certain kind of bravery for me to use a skill I don’t often rely on: introverted intuition. But it works even if I don’t understand it. Throughout this trip I’ve stumbled upon as many good things unintentionally than through planning.

How do I know my intuition is correct when it doesn’t leave a trail of logic? Four terrible pizzas in a row doesn’t mean all pizza is like that in this part of Europe. How can I possibly form a ‘fair’ impression of Budapest in just a week?

That’s the problem: objectivity.

A fair impression. It’s pointless—what do I need to justify and for whos benefit? Trying to reserve judgment in this context is exhausting. I like embracing my inner child, so why I do I try so hard to resist forming uneducated opinions? It’s a necessity sometimes, and most people seem to enjoy it. I’m taking everything too seriously, like usual. Why must I form a coherent opinion? Why can’t I just enjoy and think nothing? (I’m often surprised how many people my age can have so many opinions on everything. It makes me wonder how they can know so much more than me. It’s impressive, even if it’s an illusion.)

I want to be silly. I want to have the comfort of doing that. Doing.

I’m almost sure now that forcing myself to try and be impartial is one of the main reasons I’ve maintained such a long Fe phase. Trying to make sense of all these unfamiliar things using logic is draining. That and probably all the writing I’m doing. I long to be home, to have a familiar place to play, to have privacy away from people, and figure out how to fix my life. Some things definitely need fixing.

Why do I find it so hard to let go?

Traveling should be about doing what you want to do. In my case that means doing ‘nothing much’. Why do I keep pushing myself? I have nothing to prove, although I am curious about the great things other travelers talk about. Then again, I don’t care about any of it. (Or, I don’t want to care.) The history of Hungary has nothing to do with my life. Most of this ‘great architecture’ will get overwritten from my memory within days, if not seconds. I don’t want to enjoy myself right now. Happiness is irrelevant; the future is more important. I should be planning my return and reading books.

Lingering insecurities

A part of me from the past wonders whether I deserve this experience. I want to come back some day to some of the places I’ve been to. Partly to bask in some of my favorite places, to explore some aspects that weren’t particularly accessible, and mostly to [re]connect with the people I met. I’d be curious to see how they’re doing in a few years time.

But I’m worried it will all get swept away. The richer my experience, the more I have to lose. I’ve never had so much to lose before; it’s the first time I’ve truly felt I had so much worth holding on to in life. And what if this isn’t real or genuine? Is it really okay to allow myself to be vulnerable and wear these experiences on my sleeves? Or should they be locked away like forbidden treasures?

Worst of all, my future at home feels like a coin flip in terms of where it will lead me. With so much riding on luck, am I meant to make one hard logical decision or risk trying to feel and adapt?

young and stupid

Probably the one line that will haunt me from this trip

During a carpool trip from Budapest to Wroclaw, I asked an alleged Budapest snob why she had decided to live in Wroclaw since a few years ago. The normality of her answer shocked me to the core.

Because I was young and stupid. …[unsuccessful relationship]…. I stayed and now I have a life here.

“Because I was young and stupid.” Her unhesitating delivery mesmerizes me still. I’ve been completely outdone. She didn’t look much older than I am.

In some ways, her story is like the complete opposite of mine. I’m envious beyond comprehension at her ability to say those words. I cannot imagine, but I wish they could be my own words. They can’t; it’s too late—at least that’s how I feel.