Budapest Adventure: Never Turn Down Wine from a Norwegian!
I was 24 hours into my Budapest adventure, and I felt like the richest woman in town. I was in the middle of my semester in Florence, Italy, and after a few months in that expensive city, it was a relief to go somewhere where everything was affordable! My three roommates and travel companions were in agreement — we needed Budapest.
After discovering that Hungarian food was not only incredibly delicious but also absurdly cheap, we knew we had to go all out for dinner. On a tip from some British tourists we met while trying (and failing) to score opera tickets, we chose a high-end restaurant not far from our hostel.
This restaurant was fancy. Waiters in tuxedos with gloves. String quartet in the main room. Aperitifs offered upon arrival.
We tried to dress our best, but with our casual travel wardrobe, there was only so much we could do. The maitre ‘d took one look at us four college students and brought us to a table in the very back.
Next to us was a table of businessmen in their fifties. As the four of us perused the menu, calculating Forints to Euros, one of the men came up to our table. He looked a little bit like Jason Varitek, but with close-cropped, darker hair.
Photo via Harpo42
“Ladies,” he said to us, “I see that you are young and enjoying an evening out. We would like to buy you a bottle of wine.”
“Aww,” the four of us collectively said, blushing. “No, no, no.”
“Okay,” he replied, and went back to his table.
My jaw dropped. What just happened? The other girls were equally shocked.
We halfheartedly protested! He was supposed to insist, and we were supposed to gracefully accept!
Apparently, that’s not how things fly in Budapest.
Photo via crispy789
Was it wrong of us to assume that the man would insist on buying it for us, despite our feeble protests? After a few months in Italy, where we were used to near-constant male attention, had we started to expect favors from men?
Or was it simply a cultural difference?
“We should have said yes,” one of the girls muttered. I sheepishly looked down in agreement. Then our food arrived, and we brightened at our divine meal of goulash, asparagus soup, rabbit and duck, and pureed roasted chestnuts.
After the meal, we decided to stop by their table and thank them for the kind offer. The men were happy to see us and we learned that they were all from Norway and visiting Budapest on business.
“You’re lovely,” another one of the men said as he shook my hand. “We should have bought you that bottle anyway.”
“We should have said yes,” the rest of us said in unison before bursting into laughter.
The moral of the story? Don’t be cute and refuse. Especially when it’s wine from a Norwegian.