Trapped in a Hungarian apartment block

Trapped in a Hungarian apartment block

Published on February 9 2018

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In 2010 I spent a week hanging out with a friend who lived in Budapest. I arrived at his place around 5am and, despite knowing I was coming, he overslept without alarms, leaving me to get embroiled in an unlikely and embarrassing limbo.

The same limbo that was considered unlikely and embarrassing enough to be the premise for an entire Peep Show episode.

What I wrote at the time:

“the name “Simon” was written on the buzzer list for the apartment building, so I spent 30 minutes buzzing it, figuring that there wouldn’t be 2 Simon’s in all of Budapest, let alone the same building. No luck.

After a LONG time I saw movement in the lobby, and knocked on the door. After a short, awkward “conversation”, a resident let me through the 2 security gates and into what was presumably Simon’s building. I went to apartment #5 (the one labelled as Simon) and spent another 30 minutes knocking and buzzing before going up and heading downstairs. In retrospect I’m really glad the guy wasn’t in, because he would have punched me for ringing his door so many times (it turns out there ARE 2 Simons in the building, and the one I was looking for is at apartment #11. Simon is a fairly common surname in Hungary, and is the surname of the resident of the apartment I spent 3 hours trying to enter.)

Downstairs I realised that you needed a key to get OUT of the building as well. This sparked a small panic attack – I wasn’t supposed to be in this building – what if got arrested?! What if I ended up stuck in there all day?! What if I needed to do twosies?!!! I looked out of the window on the first landing to see if I could jump out, but it was way too high, and the area behind it was sealed off anyway so I’d just get stuck there. I knocked on several apartments. One knock was answered, but I was flustered and scared the resident back inside, where she would no longer answer my subsequent knocks. Eventually I sat on the stairs and regrouped, before realising that the lock was very primitive and could be forced open by a toothbrush (of all things).”