Leaving again… on the bus!

After missing my flight and scrambling through the financial system of the Hungarian “begging on the street” banking system, I had to come to the conclusion that I was stuck for the moment. In the end, we managed to buy a ticket for a Euro-Lines ride all the way all to the fair city of Utrecht. We had to order it twice, almost trice. After our first encounter with the street banks called pedestrians, we now encountered the beauty of Internet banking. Luckily we could get through to customer service at nine in the evening. We got the ticket in the end, and it’s going to be a quick bus ride of just 21:30 hours. Over before you know it.

Oh, we don’t want to go back. Nevertheless, we are a few days further in time now. I finished up everything that needed to be done, packed the last of the things and we made it! Even though we almost lost the ticket in the final seconds. Naturally, that scrap of paper lay on the pavement just a few meters back. One thing that dawned on me and that was the fact that I didn’t have any beer. No Beer. 

We had some sweets and stuff, but no Beer. 

It is Friday. In Budapest. 180 HUF for a keg… 

and I wanted a beer before leaving. We were standing there at the check-in with just 15 minutes to spare and a hell of a queue. Apparently, the line that was reserved for my ride was hidden behind a pillar without clear markings. Screw it, we got the check-in card and scurried over to the bus, after losing and finding my ticket on that fifty-meter walk. 

Six minutes before take off. My big bag was fed into the belly of the white whale. 

I climbed aboard and sat my ass down next to a sympathetic window. As we rode through Budapest to get to the highway, I once again realized how much I love this city… and that it really has some fine ladies walking around. So after this emotional farewell, my attention went back to the stand-up comedy that was buzzing in my ears. And oh for fuck’s sake, there is still twentyone hours to go!

“Győr – First stop.” 

{I wanted to put a (period) there for some reasons}

At this point, I realized that just a few days ago I had already ended up here in the middle of the night. Then, I had no idea where we were exactly, just that we were not in the right direction and the only one who knew the route was hanging on to that particular fence trying to puke. It seems fitting that that the bus would fill here to the rim. It also seems that everybody brought an entourage of fake passengers who stayed behind. But what is that? Oh no, a mother with two small girls did get on the bus. Do I have to pee? No, but I survived this round without gaining a neighbor. Once again the engine started roaring, or at least we went to a state of moving once again. The city is interesting though. Classicist buildings and heavy industrial vibe with a hint of urban decay. Worth returning to, as to so many things. After a bunch of jokes and scenarios further, 

we neared the Final Hungarian stop – Moson – 

“10 minutes”. If nothing else, I managed to pick up a can. Arany Ászok. Beer. My final beer before crossing the border. It is Friday and we are leaving. Yeah, a guy needs his sentiments some times and while the sun started to set behind the beautiful scenery of high way traffic and windmills, I -shiss- my beer open and sat my self down on the curb. Golden state with the golden brew. 

But time is up, so Bottoms Up! Good Bye and Love ya All! 

At 18:13 {day time, not travel time} we arrived in Austria. This is not bad if you consider that we left at 15:30 from Budapest. Oh crappadoodle, at least I’m getting some writing done. Speaking of that, let’s give you an account of what happened in the past few days, and especially the obscenity of Friday.

“On the Boat, or yacht if you please”

The gig was up, the girls would arrive Thursday morning and the shoots would run from Friday till Sunday. We had a prep meeting a day in advance with the “organizers”. The plans apparently changed even before the hectic even could begin. So I spent the majority of that day waiting to plan everything out. The problem was that they had a business meeting on the side and that had a higher priority apparently. Luckily, I had a woman to keep me company. 

She worked for the shop, I think, but we were the only company at the moment for each other. She had a daughter of 16, up somewhere. The funny thing is that by the end of the day I made her blush simply by a misplaced comment in a different conversation. Not to get adrift, after a while the meeting finally happened. They came with the idea to go down to the Balaton lake and start with a photo shoot on a boat on Thursday. Great idea. It’s not that I’m not flexible, but it is an extra day and the girls arrive just a few hours beforehand with the bus, from a far corner of Romania. Oh, well. Ride out!

The boat was arranged by “Teddy”. At least that is what his license plate said. Apparently, he had a career in politics and law. Not that it does matter, he was the money man. He was one half of the organization, or at least as far as he was interested in it.

The girls arrived at eight in the morning and I would be picked up at ten in the center of Budapest. At that point, it became apparent that the two girls multiplied. We had two girls in the back and in the rest of our convoy, there were three more. This “convoy” consisted of us, a shabby little speedster with just three out of the four pistons working, “Teddy” with a Mercedes and another car in that class. As could have been expected, we fell behind with just an approximate idea where we had to be. The girls were absolutely not stressed about this, they were sleeping. Eighteen hours in a bus does tend to do that to you. At a stop, I became a shooter from New York with all the whistles and bells that go with it. This was always the fun part of almost every job that I had, the sudden promotion that I make from a life-artist-photog-artist-whatever-I-do that can be validated to a hot-shot-whatever-they-need.

“Back on the bus”

Vienna – bus station of chaos. No room and a hell of a lot of buses pouring out their passengers who are switching between their rides with baggages. Turbulence. Oh, and on a side note, welcome back to Europe: Three fifty for a keg and two fifty for a glass of beer. At least I got my ten euro bill changed by the toilet lady. After almost boarding the wrong bus {not that Paris isn’t nice}, I conquered my own seat again. Even this brings back a memory. A few years ago I traveled next to a Parisian artist who invited me to pay a visit. Naturally, this never happened. Back in reality, a soap scented girl sat down next to me. There goes the royal life of double seats, just as I had figured out how to put myself in a comfy position for sleeping. Shucks, long live zé soap!

“And the harbor came in view”

After bubbling down and finally arriving at the yacht club, with an emergency shopping tour for the ladies, who were in need of a couple of bikini’s, we boarded the boat. It was a nice sailboat, I believe about fifteen meters long, maybe seventeen. Our captain was already waiting for us and within a few more minutes we were off, and within a couple of minutes, the first drink was served. Vodka-Apple. As we all know, apple juice is quite a rare commodity, so it was poured sparsely. Oh well, we are all sailors now. It also didn’t take them long to hassle me to work, I couldn’t even finish my first drink. Bloody sods. The girls were changing into their swimsuits. The “rich” and enhanced were sitting back to drink. 

One of the girls didn’t come for the shoot, 

I still don’t know what her purpose originally was but she made a terrific assistant, especially since I wasn’t allowed to bring my own. Handling the reflectors and modeling experience to boot. This was great when we had to start rolling. During the day, it was sunny and warm with harsh shadows everywhere, there was almost nothing possible without a reflector panel. 

Besides this, I’m not a “fashion” shooter by nature so a little co-op was welcome. {on a side-note again, it was also a really nice surprise when she did ask if we could shoot a couple of tasteful topless photo’s of her, but more on that later}.  With all this, we set out to the bow to get the shoot on the way. From the three girls, blonde-brown-black who were the stars of the show, we started out with blondie. Trying out as many things as possible, backing them crisp with the reflector screens. Switching them around, doing group shots and all the while sweating my balls off because I was the only sucker who still didn’t wear swimming gear. Curse of the cargo pants. If you work in a situation where pockets are useful then they are handy dandy, otherwise they are good incubators. Let’s take a quick break and change this up.

Our hosts were still drinking at a nice pace. Almost immediately after the anchor was thrown out, the reinforcement arrived in the form of a water bike stocked with booze. Back to work. 

A funny thing is about this profession, 

I was shooting girls in bikinis with a… nice assistant twirling around me, who I shot topless so now and then through the day, but it didn’t record as anything sexual. Is this part of my conditioning from the past years in the academy, or can I simply separate that what I am seeing at different times? Anyhow, we went on like that until the next big break. With that, I jumped in and went for a quick swim. For hell’s sake, I’m on a boat. I was done, for half an hour or so. 

As I was sitting there, with the girls sunbathing at the bow, suddenly a question came. “Do you suck?” Well, what do you do with a question like this? For me, it asked for clarification in my deadpan way: “depends what?” This caused a bit off an uproar since they took it as an offense. They don’t meddle with pity things like speed. Oh, so that’s what they were talking about. The captain diffused the situation by taking me below deck, to the cabin where the girls had their dressing room. There was a bathroom with a “lockable” cabinet. Therein lay an aluminum plate with a lump of cocaine on it. This is the fine stuff, he explained and offered me a line. Oh, what the fuck. Let’s get this over with, a quick zip and get the hell out. After a minute, my tongue went a little bit numb, but that was it. I went for a dip and got the remaining stuff out of my nose. After this episode, the realization hit that they were snorting cocaine in the changing room, with the youngest girl on board just barely over sixteen. If the cabinet was opened the damp of it hung heavily over the complete cabin. Welcome to the real world, I say. 

This interlude didn’t seem to matter, I went there to photograph the girls. It was also nice to be on a sailing boat after many a year. 

When the sun went down and we made the last shots in the twilight I grabbed my beer and went to sit at the bow. The night breeze around me and nothing but water in front of me as we sailed slowly towards the dock. This was a fine reward (?) for dealing with this debauchery. 

The drinking had asked his toll of almost every participant. For my self, I was also handled to occasional whiskey-cola/high-quality rum/champagne or beer. For those who have read more of me, or just simply know me, I can handle some liquor. Our chauffeur was less fortunate {in more ways than he realised}. So after docking at ten in the evening, our hosts had driven off, leaving us with the three girls and an inebriated driver. We had concluded that this was quite a shitty situation we found ourselves in. For myself, I just had a faint idea how to get back to Budapest, the girls were totally lost and the only working GPS was locked away in the phone of our pilot {for which he didn’t remember the unlock code}. The only bit of luck that we had, was that one of the girls had a drivers license. In the end, it took us five hours to get to Budapest. After getting lost in the middle of nowhere, going through endless villages that were never quite in the right direction, just missing two deers on separate occasions and almost loading the drunk sob in the trunk of his own car after sitting for an hour next to the road while he was going to pieces, almost unable to puke while still not being able to mutter the magic code for the GPS. So it is no wonder that one of the girls never showed up again. But in the end we made it and I came to a few conclusions. As far as I enjoy a lot of things (especially if I can get them free)  I’m not a hedonist. Second, wisdom comes from experience, as do questionable learning moments. 

As a wise cashier lady said once: Don’t get surprised. Oh, and about those toplless shots, well – let’s keep a resemblance of class and ethicality. 

“To finish off the ride”

We stopped again, this time at the wonderful rest stop of St. Valentine at 10’o clock. The ride is quite uneventful, soap girl is watching a show called “Judy by Design” or something like that. We had shared the odd glances at each other. Right now, I’m sitting outside with a cheap 1.50 EUR gas station wine spritzer in my pocket. This, while I’m starring at a miniature wooden chair that is just standing next to the curb. An old man spotted it too or at least acted on it. So it will probably find a new home. 

Did the rest of us just ignore it? It didn’t belong there on so many levels, is that it? Another thing also didn’t quite belong there and it was the busloads of people wandering aimlessly around in the parking lot. The bottle was something from the mind of a genius. A deadbeat water-bottle containing a white wine spritzer for no money in facking awesome 5,5%. But I’m quite off right now if nothing happens and the tension keeps growing the freaking out will grow further than what the spritzer can manage. The chair was awesome though.  

With a buzz on, we ended up at another rest stop. Are they slipping into each other? This was just ahead of Frankfurt, or so I was told. 

Fuck, it is still too far away at five in the morning and delivery time by 13:00. At least I have a double seat once again. The soap girl has left me at Würzburg, or was it Nürnburg? After four hours of chatting about everything. 

From art to relationships and sex life. 

The works. It was nice and the force to talk was apparently greater {after many hours of not a word next to each other} than that of just shutting up for even a few minutes. 

Because how do you restart the conversation after that? The funny thing was really to share all of it and then just say goodbye with an awkward handshake. But I got my double seat back after all. Another thing that will be a nice touch for the “morning” rise, is the fact that an old “bitch” was audibly gossiping about a random passenger who “sat on her face” while passing her in the corridor. Or the mad man, just an arm’s length away from my seats, who already keeps flipping out and yammering in near indecipherable Germinglish about how he has no bandwidth on his phone and that he is an idiot because we couldn’t fix it. Bad vibe factors. Ignore it and let’s huddle up and go back to sleep since Frankfurt is getting nearer. Oh, and we lost a Vietnamese guy a few hours earlier apparently. Yeah, the bus driver just noticed this too. No, she got off at Mahnfiel. We didn’t even stop in Nürnburg. So we arrived at the last stop before I can get out of this microverse on wheels. Behind me, the great comparison is being made between Hungary and all the wonders that they have in Dusseldorf. As with every sighting of a horse “Oh, they got horses in here” and the likes of that. Everything is explainable to the benefit of the other. “Have a better time in here” {sic}. “The nice thing about the long rides, you always find someone to enjoy yourself with…no, to talk to” {sic}. Oh, and the little girls are still here and have awoken. Wünderbar. 

“Are we there yet?” “Where are we?” “We are the only ones left!” Yeah, currently I do some whining but puff on it. Hehehehe, and the next stand-up sketch is about traveling! “Where we pay a lot of money to go to a place where the people there would also pay a lot of money to go where we came from.” Oh, we missed a turn so now we are backing up on the highway with a touring car, awesome. But that was the last excitement for this trip. We arrived half an hour early. One final nod and off we were. 

Heading out for a four-mile walk. That’s it. 

A twenty-one hour bus trip. Done. Gone.