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Brian And Bruce: Scottish Fun In Budapest

Welcome to The European Adventures of Brian and Bruce. I’m Brian, and Bruce is Bruce Pirie of Uncommon Fit. The two of us went full bore lacrosse with LaxAllStars.com at the 2016 European Lacrosse Championships in Budapest, and now we’re traveling around Europe, mixing lacrosse, life, sightseeing, and cultural exploration into a 3 week walkabout on ye olde continent. Kick back and enjoy our trip stories, then go out and do something like this yourself. You won’t regret a minute of it… OK, you might regret a couple minutes of it, but most of the experience will be awesome, and worth it.

My belly is full, my feet are tired, and my head is happy. Bruce and I transitioned from to Gödöllö to Budapest for the night, where things got bizarre, to say the least. We joined up with Iian and Ryan from the Scottish national team, as well as Balazs, a new friend of ours (and recent lacrosse convert!) we met at the European Championships. The vibe of Budapest is an interesting one. I felt it leaning towards a warm and accepting community-type feel, while holding on to that cold mistrust resulting from the darker days of its recent history.

budapest buddies grow the game

Ryan and Iian were beat up pretty bad from their eight games in ten days at the European Championships. Bruce and I didn’t play in the tournament, but two weeks will eat at anyone just the same. Citing our cumulative levels of physical and mental exhaustion, we decided to head to the baths that Budapest is famous for. Having been to the baths ten days prior, with my friends on the Polish national team, I could attest to the benefits of the experience and was much more than ready for a second visit.

budapest baths

The varied combination of hot baths, cold dips, saunas, steam rooms, herbal aroma rooms, and world class people watching was just what the boys needed. We soaked our legs, baked in saunas with giant hairy barrel-chested men, and observed the obscure oddities of the human race. I passed out on a lawn chair for a solid hour. I guess “passing out on a lawn chair at a Hungarian bathhouse” sounds like a bad idea, but it was absolutely brilliant.

With our legs refreshed but our stomachs still running on empty, we headed downtown for some street food. We wanted to sit down and eat like real humans, but the word “Sunday” is synonymous with “not a chance” in Budapest. We did a little research and found a gastro-pub type deal that had an infatuation with Star Wars. I relinquished my rights to order food to the cashier, and he kindly ordered me up his favorite thing on the menu. I’m not sure what it was, but it was amazing. Iian took the leap of faith and ordered the pig brain. To be fair, it was also delicious.

We took our talents on a walk down to the Danube river. We sat and had a round of cold Hungarian sodas down on the bank of the river on this little island whose name escapes me. The illuminated parliament building was champion of the skyline. It was impossible to take your eyes off that massive wonder.

budapest at night

Just as impossible to ignore as parliament itself was the flurry of birds that circled above. Even in the midnight hour that we found ourselves in, these crazy birds circled the parliament building nonstop. Balazs told us that these were seagulls, but I’m not sold. Far more likely is that this building was actually Hogwarts and those were owls not some stupid seagulls.

We had this conversation as to whether or not those birds actually were seagulls or Hogwarts owls for easily the next forty-five minutes. One of those birds must have heard us, because just as we were really getting into the truth of this conspiracy, a police boat came upon us. He shone his spotlight into our eyes and slowed down as the vessel approached our spot on the bank.

Not willing to be caught and brought before a wizard tribunal, we scurried away. If this is coming off as nonsensical, good. It is, in fact, complete and utter nonsense. But it happened. I’m writing about what happened. I found Hogwarts. It’s in Budapest.

The only thing that could calm our nerves was, yes, you guessed it, ice cream. We stopped off and got a round of ice creams, and as we walked down the road eating ice creams, we realized we wanted more ice cream. So we stopped into a shop and loaded up on ice cream bars. Bruce ate four Magnums. I’m still impressed.

budapest

In the morning we headed out into the city to get to the bus station. We were bent on not getting hustled by a taxi driver, but inevitably, we got hustled by a taxi driver. Such is traveling. At the bus stop, we broke out some sticks and played some catch to the amazement of all who walked by, and to a lesser extent, ourselves. Since then, a bizarre picture has surfaced on the European Championships of the four of us marching around with our backpacks at the bus stop saying that “we’ve been spotted”.

Now we’re on a bus to Vienna, Austria. There, we’ll meet up with Chris Kunert, the Austrian national team goalie. Chris and I have played together in Prague and we run into each other regularly whenever I’m in Europe so we figured we’d stop in for a visit. We’ll be staying with a different member of the national team, Emil, and his family.

While in Austria, Bruce and I plan on suiting up for a friendly scrimmage between the Vienna Monarchs and an American travel team dubbed “America’s Team”. While no creativity points will be awarded for their name, we look forward to suiting up in Monarchs gear and playing a good game. Up to this point I can’t say I’ve ever played lacrosse in Austria. Everything is about to change… again, and I couldn’t be more excited.