BKV Maffia - how to avoid being fined!
What can you expect from a Transportation Company that welcomes you on their website with this:
"Did you know that you enter into a contractual relation with our company when you get on our vehicle to travel? "
Nobel prize winner Imre Kertesz after coming back from the Nazi concentration camp in Auswitch, wearing and having nothing but his prison camp pyjamas, was fined by a BKV controller on tram number 6 on his way home in 1945. He put this story into his book "Faithless".
During summertime BKV controllers obviously peck on foreign tourists, as the fines make up a significant part of their meager salaries. They don't care if you don't know, don't understand, etc, when they stop you, they want to give you a FINE.
Some of the tricks:
-the slots of ticket vendor machines are taped with Scotch tape
-ticket punching machines don't work (trams, buses)
-ticket punching machines are placed in places where you don't notice (subway)
-you may accidentally walk into BKV property from the street, bingo!
-you change a line on the subway (of course you don't know you are) and bingo! (Deak Square)
-when you validate your ticket you pull it out too fast from the machine so the printing gets smudgy, bingo!
-you have bought a week ticket but you don't keep it in a BKV picture ID, bingo
-you have bought a week ticket, you have the picture but you didn't copy the ID number from the card onto the ticket, bingo
-you got the damn week ticket, picture OK, there is a number but it's not too clearly written
Unique Suggestions: You can save yourself from a lot of trouble if you buy a DAY TICKET FOR ALL LINES(900 HUF), no picture, no ID, etc. Just put it in your wallet and show it, like you would do with your ticket in a country with civilised transport. This pass will let you go all the way until midnight the next day.
Fun Alternatives: Walking. Nay. DAY TICKET. Also, don't get sucked with that Budapest Card.
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
For some reasons Hungarian tourism criminals beleive that people associate their country with dried chilli peppers, an image definately coming from the days of goulash-communism-tourism. As a result in every tourist area little paprika shops open up selling crap paprika and other unbeleivable knic-knacks for astronomical prices, including eg postcards that you can buy for 1/10th of the price on the other corner, 50 yards away from the tourist place.
The most notorious is the Main Market (Vamhaz Korut) where actually real people shop for daily groceries right next to the most ridiculous tourist trap shops.
Fun Alternatives: A good rule of thumb is to stay away from shops that have tons of dry chilli peppers in the door or shopwindows, in Hungary putting out the paprika means "my fellow countrymen, don't come here, I am not selling anything, I just want to rip off some dumb tourists!" see picture.
Douh! Who the hell would dry their paprika in the middle of Buda Castle where renting a sq meter costs as much as renting an entire village in the Alfold!
- Arts and Culture
- Food and Dining
"HYENA" TAXIS and how to spot them
A typical hyena cab, as on the picture here is a black, newer Mercedes Benz, a car regular taxi drivers could never afford sometimes with some make-beleive company logo, not on the front doors as on real taxis but on the trunk.
NEVER EVER be so dumb as to even talk to taxi drivers that drive taxis without insignias of the well known taxi companies (Budapest Taxi, Taxi 2000 or 6X6) on the front doors. Hungarians call these cabs "hyena taxis", well not without a reason. Hungarians would sooner walk from Kispest to Obuda than take any of these.
They are NOT taxis, but petty criminals looking for a few (or more) bucks to make. Even if you see no other taxis around (e.g. Matthias church, end of Vaci utca, other touristy places, where "hyenas" have a usual gathering place) just keep looking for real cabs or just walk, you'll be better off even if you get lost!
Unique Suggestions: Pay through the nose and don't argue because you might end up badly beaten in a dirty alleyway.
Fun Alternatives: Buy a day ticket for BKV (then you won't need a picture ID with the ticket) and take the bus, tram, pullman or whatever.
- Historical Travel
- Road Trip
It's preferrable to exchange money from the city centre either from the exchange shops or from banks but don't try to exchnage money at stations (Keleti Station for example). They really want to steal you.
Unique Suggestions: If you have to exchange money at stations at least try to exchange only a small sum.
Fun Alternatives: I found the best offers at Vaci utca
Never take anything not on the card
Avoid the Arany Hordó Restaurant on the Castle Hill. It's in some Travel Guides. God only knows why. The Restaurant is so overpriced I could hardly believe it. The Food is below average, the menu card gives you plenty to choose from, but unfortunately we were so disappointed. Looking into the faces of other's in the restaurant they must have thought the same.
Beware of the waiters. We choose a bottle red wine on the waiters recommendation. Price was already quite expensive, about 40€. He came back with a totally different bottle and said the other one was solt out. What a shame, but that one was great also but unfortunately not in the card. When I heard that my alarm went of. So I asked for the price. It was 90€, more than double the price from the original price. They probably do it all the time, so be careful.
Do not get into that elevator!!!
OK. This is a classic but the location is very interesting. The four of us were walking down the Vaci st. in the center of Budapest and we met two lost girls from Slovakia who wanted to find this great bar. After introduction and a short walk we were convinced to go and see a famous hungarian band (yeah right) in a classy bar on the top of the bilding in Regi Posta st. You get to the bar by a nice elevetor. After two bottles of wine and a few palinkas my friend wanted to order a beer and opend the price list. He almost fainted. Girls also wanted to dance for us and tryed to make us order a song from the band to dance on.. If they succeeded the bill would be significantly bigger. For a symbollic price of 300 Euros we drank two half glasses of wine and some schnapps. If you do not have enogh money, a convenient ATM machine is inside the restaurant. We played along and left without the scratch. If you don't have enough cash and no credit card, prepare to be owned!! You can't miss the place, JUST DON'T GO INTO THE FRAGGIN LIFT.. the pictures follows
- Wine Tasting
- Budget Travel
Taking a taxi you may not be able to afford!
If you need to take a taxi in Budapest, make sure that taxi has a medallion, company name, and a phone number available on the side of the car. There are many "fake" taxis that do not work for any company and they will take you for a "ride," but not the one you are thinking of. They will charge an insane amount of money, way more than a regular legitimate taxi. So make sure it is a company taxi.
Another restaurant scam
After a recent experience at Fatal (search restaurant tips where I describe it), we were told my our long-time local (native Budapestian) host of a new way to scam tourists: Refuse to serve them unless they order "enough". Apparentley not only Fatal does this, but many other restaurants as well.
This is just dumb business practice-- especially for a restaurant in a city that people seem to be becoming disillusioned by.
There are places who will split huge portions between two people, and be happy to let you sit while you enjoy your meal (without telling you when you must be out).
Unique Suggestions: If you can-- take a local with you to Fatal , especially the first time you go. They will cheat locals, but less likely if you're careful.
Fun Alternatives: Alfoldi's
Try to use taxi as little as possible, 'cause they're especially fond of strangers. You'll pay four times more than you should if they notice you're foreign.
Unique Suggestions: So, if you know someone who knows hungarian, let him speak with taxi driver and set the price
Fun Alternatives: Use the metro, the organisation is really great!
We were close to buying the Budapest Card. The card includes metro/tram/bus use plus discounts at various sites, museums and restaurants.
The passes are pretty expensive and we were told that even though it says sites are free, they really aren't. Each museum says that they are having a special exhibit which the card does not include so you get stuck paying the admission regardless.
If you have a student ID you will save more money using it.
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Return minibus ticket at the airport
A good solution to go from the airport to the city center is to take the minibus : inexpensive, and they will go to your hotel, wherever it is located, for the same price.
The trap is to buy a return ticket: you will have to call a number one day before you are leaving the country. I was leaving on a sunday, so I tried to call several times the Saturday, but nobody answered to me...Same on sunday morning... I asked the hotel reception to do it for me, but nobody answered to...When I arrived at the airport BY TAXI, i went directly to the minibus deck to ask for a refund, but they told me that it was written on the ticket " no refund for any reason..."
Unique Suggestions: So guys, just buy a single ticket airport - city center to avoid to lose money...
Fun Alternatives: To go back from city center, a taxi cost 20 euros.
- Budget Travel
Airport bus instead of taxi
Although taxis are controlled now by the city hall because of asking too much from tourists you have a better option; to buy a return ticket from the airport minibus service. It takes you to the hotel door and picks you up the day you leave from hotel door. You just have to book one day before and they will be there at the hour you choose.
It costs about 15 € return ticket
Unique Suggestions: Taxi only in an emergency situation or during night. During the day you use the metro to go everywhere and there are several buses and trams too.
Fun Alternatives: To go up Hills like Gellert and Castle use the sightseeing bus trips, one day trips of 2 or 3 hours that cost about 12 € with Budapest card or International Student card discount.
- Women's Travel
Stamp Your Ticket!
Beware on the tube, the ticket inspectors are RUTHLESS! We bought a ticket that we thought was for a day, yet didn't get it stamped to verify it. Despite our obvious mistake the inspectors would not let us get away with it, we had to pay the equivalent of £20 before they would let us continue on.
Fun Alternatives: Better still, go to a booth and get the "Budapest Card". For around £13 each we got 72hours use fo all types of transport, from tubes to trams to buses. There is a whole host of other benefits as well - the best being getting into the Zoo for free!!
- Budget Travel
Budapest card - probably not good value
The various travel information points promote the Budapest card. It gives free travel on trams, buses and metro within the city and discounts on entrance fees in some places. However, like all these things either you aren't interested in the activities offered, or else many are actually free in any case eg all state museums (not special exhibitions). We found having the card from when we arrived at the station was handy as we paid for it by credit card and so weren't fumbling for change to get onto the metro, and we certainly used it hugely during our 2 days there.
Unique Suggestions: But you can get a similar but cheaper travel pass from any of the metro ticket booths. It's no biggie really but just a bit niggling that they catch you before you have worked this one out.
Incidentally the public transport network is just awesomely wonderful and integrates like a dream!
Fun Alternatives: Once you have some change, getting a ride-by-ride ticket is also very cheap.
- Historical Travel
Girls asking the time and astronomical bar bills
The same thing as described previously in another post happened to me last night. It was my first time in Budapest and I had gone for a walk. Two girls sitting on a bench when I was passing by asked me for the time. They claimed they were also visiting and asked whether I wanted to go have a drink with them. I (stupidly) said why not, and we went to a bar where we all ordered a drink. Then they ordered more drinks, then dinner, then more drinks. One of the girls started flirting and holding my hand. This went on for a couple of hours. When I said that I wanted to leave, the bill came, and the girls gave it to me. I did not mind, since I did not expect that it would be too bad, and we all had had a good time. The bill was 234.000 Forint!!! I complained, said that I did not drink that much, the girls claimed that we did. They claimed that they had no money, and I certainly did not have that much on me. They escorted me to a cash machine, but I complained. Then two heavies from the club showed up. Not knowing the language and not having any choice I paid the bill. Painful lesson that cost me €800. I felt like an absolute idiot!!! So, beware...
Unique Suggestions: Don't go!
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