Vidámpark, Budapest, a set on Flickr.
Sometimes, you have to do silly things. Not irresponsible, stupid things, like crossing the road without looking, or jumping out of a plane, or feeding a crocodile. Just silly things.
Last Monday we went to Vidámpark (literal translation: Happy Park) next to the Budapest Zoo near City Park (Városliget). There was almost no one there. The price to enter was not cheap. The weather was grey and cool, with a chance of drizzle. Naturally, B declared this would be hilarious, and we should go in… So we did.
After a whirl on the beautiful old carousel (upon which B got slightly motion sick) and a hilarious few rounds of the dodgem car track together, I was warmed up enough to tackle almost every ride, solo.
Except for a single childhood moment of awful motion sickness on a ride at the Melbourne Show, aged 5, when a pair of old ladies cackled at ‘the little girl who was turning green’ (whilst my mother stood there saying, ‘that’s my DAUGHTER!’ and willing me telepathically not to vomit on my cousin) I have always loved rides. I don’t get sick. I laugh and scream and grin like an idiot.
But last Monday, as I was being flipped upside down by a machine and held in by some kind of engineering breakthrough that was surely only ever meant for space adventure, as the horizon wavered constantly and the music blared, I suddenly thought, “what if this breaks? What if I die? How far will I be flung?” Finally, at the age of 30, my own mortality was quite real.
Rides that whizz around close to the ground are fun. But rides that are a long way up are all of a sudden a little bit scary to the otherwise fearless Stephanie. I think it’s called ‘Getting Older’.
It was all exhilarating and rather funny, but there were two rides that I exited and felt really quite glad to be alive and on the ground.
The first ride that took me upside down and into the sky made me whoop with laughter initially (Mum, you know that sound), and then the thoughts of potential death infiltrated my brain and I kept wondering if my travel insurance would cover such an event. I imagined the headlines… “Aussie tourist in Budapest flung from unsafe ride into zoo, eaten by lions!”
But still, I went in for more.
On the dinosaur ride (see photos), I was flung around inside my own safety seat so hard that I still bear the bruise on my arm. I found myself holding my breath and thinking, “is it over yet?” That was my last ride of the day. The dinosaur was not my friend. He was mean and violent and his surrounding murals were a bit shit.
None of this will stop me going back there though. I have at least two friends here who are unafraid of rides and keen to go. I imagine that peer pressure will allow me to go on all the rides, multiple times, and that the fear might subside slightly in the presence of others. Summer is coming and the Vidámpark is open late at night. I look forward to doing some awful chair-dancing to “Sexy And I Know It” as the DJ-slash-ride-operator plays it for the fourteenth time and watches, bemused, as some Proper Grown Ups scream on the Break Dance and the Octopus.