The High Street is a Minefield!

It was a really long time ago that war was last waged on the streets of Budapest, but in the centre there still is a minefield that should be avoided by everyone. It's been there in the area of Váci utca for 20 years and it's the most dangerous for tourists. These mines, however, are not a threat to your health but to your wallet.

What are we on about exactly:

A tourist arrives in Budapest and settles into his hotel room. Where will his first trip take him? To the centre of Budapest, to Váci utca. He will go down there to look around, shop and get to know the city. And he can't believe his luck (misfortune) when immediately, just as he's arrived the first evening, two pretty girls stop him on the street who appear to be from abroad too as they pretend not to know where they are with a map in their hand. Of course the tourist won't know the answer to their question, how could he, he's just arrived himself. However, the girls invite him for a chat anyway, now that they've got to know each other. If the victim agrees to go to a bar with them for a drink, he's lost control already and he'll remain a fish out of water in this story until he finds out at the end with how many hundred euros this little episode will set him back. The girls recommend a good place where there is good music and you can have a nice chat, and while doing that they make titillating gestures and naughty remarks. The tourist is now convinced it's his lucky day and he'll be testing the mattress on his hotel room bed with some female company that night. He agrees, which man wouldn't if he is invited by two pretty girls? They go to the bar together where the victim is systematically relieved of all of his cash. The two girls will handle the situation in a way that the menu and the prices are not mentioned at all, even better, such things are totally forgotten and replaced with nothing by pure fun. And a real gentleman won't start looking at the price list anyway. The girls have tried and tested techniques to divert the victim's attention, if they manage, they'll get him mindlessly drunk to make it easier to make him pay the exorbitant amount he will be charged at the end of all this. Of course the staff of the restaurant or bar is in on the act, they are part of the same criminal group organised for scams and theft against tourists. Many restaurants and bars on Váci utca are linked to such criminals, where the girls will entice the unsuspecting victim and together they practically rob them. The end of the story is always the same. The bill will be several hundred euros, maybe even a thousand, because prices are so surreally high that you don't even have to drink a lot to get an exorbitant bill. When faced with the prices, victims try to argue and complain, but it's too late. Why was he so stupid that he didn't take a look at the prices before ordering - that's what the staff will say and the police won't be able to defend the upset tourist.

It's been twenty years that this shameless pack of well organised thieves keep causing trouble, but somehow the authorities don't do anything. We've had so many governments and municipalities. We've had our police controlled by the left and the right. The scams stayed. Embassies can complain as much as they like, but organised crime will continue like a precise diesel engine and nothing and no-one will stop it. We're talking a lot of money here, of which obviously everybody gets some. It doesn't matter how the reputation of Hungary gets worse and worse every day with entire pages about this topic on social websites, let alone the specialised forums dealing with this phenomenon. Even the American embassy has a warning on its website telling American citizens to steer clear of Váci utca and be very careful.

In the meantime Hungary fails to understand why the macro data of tourism are getting worse and worse. Our honourable leaders fail to see why people would rather go to Prague when so much money has been spent on promoting Hungary abroad.

Let me put it very simply what's going on:

Budapest's reputation is a disaster and if the scams were stopped tomorrow, it would still be too late. In the past two decades industrial quantities of money have been stolen from tourists who have given our city the confidence vote, and this has caused and is still causing inestimable damage. If somebody doesn't do something very quickly, now, in the era of the internet and information, this could have consequences this country will never be able to put behind itself!

 


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