You may have heard that last week was the Women’s March in major cities (and probably not major cities) across the United States. As far as I know, they were completely safe and no one was arrested.
I took part in the one on the Upper West Side of New York City and marched downtown. To be quite honest, it was a very short march. But it’s always nice to band together with people who are as outraged by outrageous policies are you are. The internet cannot provide that kind of camaraderie (sorry, Internet).
Last year when I planned my trip to Budapest and Vienna, I had no idea that I was arriving on the day of Hungarian Independence Day. I was informed of this by a woman helping me buy a bus pass and I saw it as a serendipitous accident.
I dropped my bag off at the hostel and made my way to the the Museum of Terror since it was free that day (to honor Hungary’s independence). On my way back, walking down Andrassy Street, the main shopping street in the center of the city, I saw a huge stage set up and a huge crowd outside of it. There were a ton of people there but it looked pretty tame considering what I’d seen going down in the past at New York City protests.
Even more surprising? I say only one, maybe two, police officers.
These two guys on the right were the only ones I saw.
New York City protests, and the United States in general, are stupidly over policed. It’s like they’re expecting us to get out of hand. Which doesn’t instill a lot of trust in them, to be honest. Usually before a march has even begun, I’ll see a bunch of cops arrive in riot gear. Really, NYPD?
I’m sure there was some semblance of security on Andrassy Street, but they were inconspicuous and there was no riot gear.
I stumbled upon the rally and asked a local what was going on and she said that students were protesting against tuition raises, I believe. I also remember later that night seeing the tail end of this march that I later read about here which was protesting the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban who was running on an extremely conservative, anti-immigrant, right wing platform for a third term.
I also almost went to Bratislava in the middle of their protests but I instead went to Salzburg. I sometimes contemplate whether I should’ve gone to Bratislava anyways.
My point is: If you hear there’s a protest going on in a city that you’re visiting, don’t let it deter you. Keep your plans and check out what’s going on. You can learn about the political climate of the country and what’s going on. It’ll be a lot more interesting than that guided bus tour you may have been originally planning on taking.
But of course: Be safe!