We began running Katona Apartments in May 2012 and since then we have hosted several hundred guests, all with different cultures and backgrounds, and we feel so lucky to be able to meet so many different people. We will start our fifth season soon, so I thought it was time to look back at our experiences and memories of the past four years.
I asked my husband, János about his most interesting guest experiences.
Do you remember who the first guests of Katona Apartments were just after the opening back in May 2012?
I remember it like it was yesterday. Our first guests were a very kind young Indonesian couple.
The husband, Budi, works in Finland and comes to Budapest now and then for business trips and his wife, Hanny, accompanies him each time.
I remember myself being tense. My hands were almost shaking. I wasn’t sure if they would be satisfied or if we had forgot anything that would be essential for a few days stay. We put in a lot of effort to have the apartments ready but hadn’t had any feedback yet. The Indonesian couple were very comforting and we had a nice chat. A few months later they came back again for another stay.
What type of guests book the apartments?
Once we even accommodated a female Buddhist priest.
What countries do your guests arrive from?
Who were your most admirable guests?
We had many admirable guests but I just have to mention Dinah and Win from Australia.
Prior to their arrival Dinah informed us that they were coming to Budapest with a group of roller skaters and bike riders. Beforehand they had skated and cycled from Linz (Austria) to Budapest. That is a distance of 430 kilometres (267 miles).
Who was your youngest guest ever?
Have you ever encountered any language barriers?
It does happen sometimes if our guests don’t speak English, German, French or Hungarian, then we are only able to communicate with them using mimics and gestures. Sometimes we use online translators, but unfortunately communication still flows slowly at times.
Last summer we received a reservation from two Italian ladies through the internet. As they arrived it turned out that they only spoke Italian. As we don’t speak their language, we were in trouble. They were just talking and talking to me endlessly, but I hardly understood a word. They had reserved one of our apartments for one night for the day they arrived and for another night three days later. From what I understood they would visit Pécs, a South Hungarian town, and they would return a few days later to stay with us again.
I was wondering what they would do in Pécs without any knowledge of the language. Did they come to visit their friends? Did they come for a special concert or event? There was no answer.
Next day their apartment was reserved for different guests so we had to clean the apartment after the ladies left. When I entered, I was astonished as I found their clothes unpacked all over the apartment. What I did was ask a friend of mine who speaks fluent Italian to call them. It turned out that they were already on a train on their way to Pécs.
The ladies asked me to pack their luggage and store them until their return. To my surprise they arrived from Pécs with 3 cute puppies. It was only then that I found out the aim of their journey to Hungary.
They invited me for a tasty Italian pasta that they prepared in our kitchen just to say sorry about the confusion caused by the language barrier.
What were the longest and the shortest stay in the apartments?
The shortest stay was just a few minutes, I checked in a Hungarian young sportsman who came to Budapest to party with his friends. He just left his bag in the apartment and went out to meet his mates and was going to leave the following morning.
In the morning he rushed back to grab his bag and hurried to catch his train.
The longest stay was for more than two years. The guest was a very kind German-Turkish medical student, Betül, who started her studies at the Medical University in Budapest. She chose our Studio Apartment C for her stay. At the beginning she planned to stay for just a few months but then she decided to settle down for a longer period.
Also we had an Italian guest, Mauro, who came to Budapest for a stop-over. It turned out, that he came to have a job interview at the Budapest airport. His dream was to become a pilot and he wanted to start his career as a flight attendant. His job interview was successful and as he felt comfortable in our apartment, he decided to keep it as his long term base in Budapest. His dream did come true and now he works as a pilot.
We are proud that we could be a part of his success.
Do you have any long term plans regarding the apatments?
As I’m a big fan of Budapest, I always feel pleasure when I can greet new guests and have the possibility of introducing them to the city, so we will definitely continue this venture. In the future we hope to expand and open new apartments for our guests.
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About the authors: Virág and János
Virág, a native of Budapest, and János, who’s been living in the city since 1997 are real fans of the capital of Hungary and try to awake the enthusiasm of others. They are dedicated to helping tourists to make most out of their stay.
Here you can read more about them: http://katonaapartments.hu/