An Expensive Beer

A friend was in Hungary exploring the local fare with his brother in tow. Being strangers to the environment and culture, they didn’t have a moment’s hesitation when offered by a man speaking English to come off the street and enjoy a beverage inside his establishment.

I mean, who wouldn’t?
*holds hand down*

In any case, the traveling man-children were treated to a joint serving cold beer and teeming with beautiful women. They enjoyed their beers and decided it was time to take off. When the gentleman from the door approached, they were expecting a ‘hey, thanks for coming into my humble establishment. And here is your gift basket complete with a Hungarian Bath and Beyond gift certificate valued at 20 forint‘. Instead, they were handed a bill for the equivalent of $600 US.

The brothers looked at each other, both believing they had been solicited an erroneous parchment. However, Mr. Big Bad Hungarian Bouncer was kind enough to assure them that this bill was very real, and they were obligated to pay it in full before leaving.

Being the cool Ami dudes that they were, they offered their best arguments in contest – their years of working with call center customer service reps as their backbone. Sadly, it wasn’t enough, and was punctuated by Bouncer threatening with violence as an alternative to paying the bill.

Bouncer grabbed one brother, and sent an armed gentleman with the other brother who was to retrieve the money.

I’d like to end the story here. I wish I could.

His brother left behind at the friendly establishment, our cash cow brother set out on an adventure with a local navigator scoping sidewalks for means of moolah retrieval.  They stopped at their first ATM.

For those of you who haven’t been overseas, now would be a good time to take notes for a future excursion out into the great unknown.

At the ATM, the cash cow queried the familiar machine for what would be $650 US — Enough to cover the expense as well as giving them a buffer to GTFO of Hungary. The ATM was not satisfied with the request. It asked for a lower, more sensible number. ATMs overseas don’t normally like big withdrawls. This was one of those times.

Cash cow protested, pleading to the gentleman toting him around by the scruff of his neck, ‘Dude, this doesn’t go any higher than a $250 withdrawl.’

‘Then we visit three machines,’ he heard in response.

Those Hungarians and their problem solving skills. So sharp. So very sharp.

That they did. That afternoon, cash cow pulled a total of $700 from his account at three different locations, and his state-side bank was likely to have shat a brick at that point.

The $1 ‘ATMs of Hungary’ tour ended with the bill money in hand, satisfied hired muscle, and a nervous brother to go retrieve. So, the two started their journey back to the bar.

When they returned, the scene was similar to the movies where a kidnapped child his captors are waiting as Chuck Norris comes waltzing in, greeted by choruses of ‘Oh my god. You’re ok. I’m ok. We’re ok.’ from the kidnapped. The money was exchanged, and the establishment offered a receipt.

The brothers were about a block away by that point, in search of the nearest train station.


Do not rely on the kindness of foreigners when in another country. Humans are cruel, disgusting carbon-based lifeforms, and everyone is liable to screw you when given the chance.

Know your ATM limit when overseas. You never know when you’re gonna need them dolla dollas. Hollah.

Bring a sibling or someone you care about when traveling to a new country. You never know when you’re going to need collateral.

Know your bars versus the brothels. It was conveyed only through subtlety in this post that these boys stumbled into a brothel. It would have been good for them to have a plan on where to go instead of just flying by the seat of their pants. A traveler’s guide can help you with that.

Also keep in mind that this story does not reflect the actions of an entire populace. Rather, this is an isolated incident. :)


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