By this point, we had already managed to block three of our bank cards. That’s right… THREE! Our Norwich and Peterborough card (read: Super Awesome No Fees Card) failed to work when we bought our shopping at a Spar. In a fit of panic we paid for it on a credit card back up, which obviously has many a fee, and was also unusable after that transaction. The HSBC debit card then did what it does best. It alerted the fraud team that I was trying to book hostels on an ENGLISH site and for the grand total of £9. So what did we do?
Tuesday 3rd June 2014
With no cards actually available to use, we headed out to find the HSBC branch in Budapest. Only, we never found it, because it doesn’t exist. Plan A, to free up the HSBC debit card without calling home and spending a fortune in foreign phone calls, was a dud.
We found a nearby bar with Wi-Fi to check out what we could do next. We used some of the limited cash we had to purchase two beers for as little as HUF620. Mike contacted all of his friends to see if they were willing to ring N&P, pretending to be him, and get the card unblocked. One of his friends kindly did, but the result was most unexpected.
The card has not been blocked by the fraud team. You are using the wrong pin.
This could not have been possible. We had been drawing money out on this card using the most updated pin for the last week. Mike obviously had to ring and find out what the hell was going on. Turns out, the card itself (and we presume the chip in particular) was damaged. When the ATMs were trying to charge the card, the chip was failing and they were trying to use the magnetic strip. Which is immediately declined by N&P as a standard thing they do to prevent fraud.
Luckily, Mike has a “European Passport” thing with Vodafone that allows him to use his phone to ring anywhere in Europe for just £2 a day, on the days where you actually use your phone. So, with that, we rang HSBC and unblocked my HSBC debit card AND told them we would be travelling from Hungary to Romania (two birds with one stone and all that jazz).
A text came through asking for Mike to confirm that the payments we were trying to make with his credit card, were actually him and not just a masked robber. To which, obviously, we confirmed, and that made the credit card available to us once again.
In short, we’re one card down (albeit the most important one) out of five. In only five days. N&P are sending a new card and pin to our home address. Mum and Dad will be bringing it to Spain with them, along with my online banking secure keys, my spare memory card hidden in my old Blackberry and some string. Why string? We’ve discovered we need some sort of washing line.
Wednesday 4th June 2014
Since HSBC was all up to date with my travel plans, we drew out some more money to pay for our next hostel. We left the bags at 11thHour for ease and set off to find the Shoes memorial on the river. We sat and ate some sammiches on the banks of the Danube and failed in epic proportions at peeling mandarin, orange things.
|NOTE: This is not us
The Shoes memorial was installed on the Pest side of the river, just south of the Parliament building, in 2005. It was designed in remembrance of the victims who, from 1944 – 1945, were lined up along the river banks and shot by Arrow Cross militiamen. Why shoes? The victims were asked to remove their footwear before they were shot, fell into the Danube, and were carried away by the current.
|The Shoes memorial on the Danube bank, Pest side
This is the most surreal memorial piece I have ever encountered. I felt as though I was lined up with them.
On a lighter note, we took a walk around the Parliament building (which was prettier from further away), visited St. Stephens Basilica and collapsed in a nearby park. Near the big sightseeing, London Eye wannabe. We later moved hostels, bought some more beers and got ready to go out and finally see some nightlife.
But then it became 11PM. And we went to bed instead.
The next day was our last full day in Budapest, make sure you see what we got up to. We have recommendations for you!