Members 38. 10. Wild East. Hungary

Hungary is my favourite place. My time living there was alternated with the Czech Republic and the two places are permanently linked for me. I forever compare them.

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Members 37. Wild East 9. Czech Mate

The Czech Republic is an extraordinary place. Over 10 years, I was based in Prague for 5 or so.

Full of wonder, misplaced confidence, and beer, my friends and I owned the Czech Republic, or thought we did. We referred to Prague 1 (the centre), as Wonderland. The architecture, the cobbled streets, and the legions of tourists lend themselves to descriptions of Disney.

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Members 36. Wild East 8. Taxi

“Don’t get a Taxi on the street.”
This was the first piece of advice that every ex-pat got on their first day in Prague or Budapest.

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Members 35. Wild East 7. Food.

I wasn’t always in the Irish Pub. Honest.

It’s a terrible oversimplification, but Central Europe and I expanded our food horizons together.

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Members 34. Wild East 6. Irish Pubs

Irish pubs were central to my experience of the “Wild East” as I term Central Europe of the 1990s. Both in Budapest and Prague, I had a default pub.
In the early days, these pubs were welcome havens in cities that felt incredibly foreign.

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Members 33. Wild East 5. Preconceptions

In the novel, (will I ever finish the bloody thing?), Sean arrives in Budapest, barely knowing where it is. That is written from experience.

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Members 32. Wild East 4. Stealing

“I want to fire them and prosecute them.”
“Yes. Of course. There are some risks.” The lawyer measured every word.
“Risks?” John was almost screeching.
“Yes. Unfair dismissal cases for one.”
“Unfair? We caught them red-handed.”

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Members 31. Wild East 3. Buy Low – Sell High.

Buy Low – Sell High

“All of them?”
I nodded.
As a newcomer, I had mystery-shopped every location of our company in Budapest over a single weekend. Multiple bureau de change. In each, I had exchanged hard currencies for Hungarian forint. The service had been OK, apart from at one location which I had found closed.
However, the majority of transactions had been completed without a receipt, a key indicator of fraud.

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Members 30. Wild East 2. Negotiation

“I will come down for negotiation.”

“Thanks Vesselina.”
I put the phone down.

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Members 29. Wild East 1. Kidnapped – Part 1.

Kidnapped

Marina drove for the highway back to Sofia.
The Mercedes roared up behind us, lights flashing, horn blaring. Alarmed, my eyes went to the rear view mirror.
“Pull over, Marina. It’s Vlad’s guys.”

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