Glenn and Jodie have been together for 11 years, and at last they're tying the knot next weekend. So it was, that Glenn and 6 friends went to Budapest last weekend for his stag do.
I was meant to join the party at Eastbourne station but my connecting train from Bexhill was about 20 seconds late, so the rest of them were headed for Gatwick whilst I waited for the next train. Not to worry, plenty of time to spare.
I met up with Glenn, Paul (the Best Man), Steve (Glenn's brother), Stuart, Tristan and Sam in Wetherspoons at Gatwick Airport. We had breakfast before checking in, then headed straight for Yates's for the first drink of the weekend - starting as we meant to go on! (though we're not a typical rowdy bunch of Stag-weekending Brits, honest).
The flight to Hungary with Easyjet was uneventful, and after the early beer most of us took the opportunity for a little snooze. Two hours later we landed in the snow - temperatures were below freezing... I knew I should have packed some gloves!
We headed for the hotel to dump our bags, and Paul handed out some Stag weekend "survival guides", each containing a map of the city, a picture of the hotel, some emergency Hungarian phrases ("Ez csodalatos. Legy szives most mar kosd ki a csomokat", anyone?), and best of all a list of tasks that Glenn had to complete by the end of the weekend...
Glenn must complete all the tasks on this list.
Each task must be witnessed and signed for by two of us.
Each task must be photographed
If Glenn fails any of the tasks, his fate will be decided by us, Jodie's Jury.
- Down a pint of local brew, in one, from his official Budapest Tour glass
- Wear the enclosed pants for the entire weekend, and the enclosed hat whenever he is outside.
- Take the Jodie Egg (an egg with Jodie's face drawn on it and hair made of wool) wherever he goes. It mustn't break! On Sunday, he must float her down the Danube.
- Eat some fogas and some sult libamaj.
- Kiss three locals.
- Choose one of these Hungarian phrases and say it to a Hungarian:
- Akarsz velem tancolni
- A varos nagyon szep
- Have a photo taken of himself with his arm around either
- a policeman
- a tramp
- a prostitute
- Drink three different flavoured shots of palinka within an hour.
- Complete the enclosed beer bottle puzzle game before we arrive back in the UK.
Heading out for the evening, Glenn immediately forgot his hat which was left in the hotel room. The amount of snow outside made it easy for us to find a forfeit, and that evening he faced the firing squad each time we left a bar and he stepped outside without his hat! Each time this naturally escalated into a huge snowball fight as we walked into town.
We soon discovered that food in Budapest can be very cheap. 1,000 Forints is about GBP £2.70 (or US$4.70), and that evening we paid about 900 Forints per dish. OK, we didn't know what we were eating, but we shared 7 plates of whatever they served us, passing each dish to the left after a few mouthfuls... and it was all delicious!
We went to several bars on Friday night, ending up at Cha Cha Cha at about 11pm by which time we were all very tired - not very rock'n'roll, I know. The place got busier and busier, and we were soon dancing with the locals and having a great time, all thoughts of sleep long forgotten. When it came time to leave shortly after about 3am, we were sad to go. But we knew we must, as we had to be awake and sober for some important wine tasting on Saturday.
OK, so we rose later than anticipated and missed breakfast, but the brisk walk to the Castle district soon woke us up. By now the snow was getting too icy to make safe snowballs, but we still had a good try. We seemed to walk miles for lunch, eventually resorting to following a sign to Burger King, but being pleasantly relieved that there was a Hungarian pizzeria next door. The pizzas were lovely, the toilets less so, and the less that's said about the 'grated Barry' dessert the better.
Unsurprisingly, most of the wine in the "drink as much as you like in 2 hours" wine tasting cellars wasn't fit for consumption (no wonder they provide jugs to spit it into), but we did find one bottle that was palletable. It started getting embarrassing by our third trip to the counter to tell them the bottle appeared to be empty already, and would they mind uncorking another.
After the wine tasting we headed back to the hotel to book Sunday's minibus to the airport, and take 10 minutes to freshen up. In retrospect it was possibly a mistake to lie on the bed for a few minutes after all that wine. But I wasn't asleep for long, as we headed for the Mammut shopping centre, which also had bars, an 'electronic' casino, and a ten-pin bowling alley.
We booked a lane of bowling, grabbed a Hungarian McDonalds (I had some kind of garlic chicken burger), and headed for the casino. Only Paul and Stuart participated, and immediately got quids-in on the roulette table and a fruit machine, so they cashed-out and we headed for the bars, then some bowling late into the night. Shortly before 2am we headed back to Cha Cha Cha, but nothing could match the fun we'd had there the previous night, so most of us decided to walk back to the hotel, leaving Sam and Tristan to find their own way back.
Glenn had done well with most of his tasks, and although the Jodie egg was a little cracked, the walk back to the hotel took us across the river so now was the time to set her sail. She drifted off in a small boat fashioned out of a plastic beer cup full of tissue paper. It was quite a moving moment, in its own little way.
Next morning we were woken at 11.15am to knocks on the door saying that the internationally recognised hotel checkout time of noon didn't apply here, and please could we vacate the room. Hastily (but groggily) packing our stuff, we headed to the lobby to meet Sam and Tristan (who hadn't really made it back in time for any sleep, but were waiting for us there). A short minibus trip to the airport and a 4 hours wait for our delayed plane, and it was all over.
What a great weekend, and I recommend it to anybody who's planning a stag weekend away. Good luck!