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Budapest Skid Row Pigeon Hunting

Budapest Skid Row Pigeon Hunting

Two skid row bums in the Gypsy quarter of Budapest were picking off pigeons with stones flung from a slingshot in the early morning hours of an errant weekday. “We did really well tonight, but now there are not anymore pigeons left,” they told us somewhat sadly as they opened up a plastic shopping bag full of bloody, headless ex-pigeons. The corpses were collected for the purpose of selling them to a scientist who commissioned the gruesome deed. Yes, these two bums were at work, and slaughtering pigeons was their job.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Budapest, Hungary- August 3, 2008
Travelogue Travel Photos

“We are doing this because the pigeons have a disease and a scientist wants to study their bodies,” one of them said to Viv who in turn translsated has statement into English for the benefit of Nilo, Etta, and myself.

Or maybe this was just a clever euphemism for pigeon soup.

My friends and I were all very drunk after a night of wine, bad jokes, and mad talk at the Muzeum Cafe. And as is the case with most Budapest nights, the party could not end ’til deep into the next day morning light. We went to the Gypsy park in an attempt to gradually down shift our drinking gears and have a few moments of calm before parting ways with the glorious night we just rode through.

What we found was an introduction to the world of the Budapest pigeon hunter. We all muttered something that sounded like a bewildered “Whoa” as we watched the skid row bums ply their trade and take a shot at an unsuspecting pigeon whose miserable fate it was to stumble into that particular park on that morning. What a job.

One bum was around 45 years old, was missing a shirt, and had just a pair of shorts to clothe his body. But he smiled a lot. The other one wore a ragged t-shirt, jeans, and a studded leather belt. He had a funny haircut and it was chopped all over like piece work. But he was kind. They welcomed us four visitors into their lyre and showed a splendid brand of hospitality. One bum bought us beer from a nearby 24 hour store while the other passed around cigarettes. A big black fat cat soon appeared and the choppy haired bum paced it upon his shoulder, and told us that they were friends. The cat put his big paws over his shoulders and sat content. Nilo the offer the cat a seat upon his head as Viv took photos.

Nilo then fiddled with the slingshot and looked for a pigeon to shoot, while I walked around the park gingerly stepping over all the discarded pigeon heads. The two girls laid upon a ping-pong table and looked at the beautiful blue breaking across the early morning sky. The bums had pigeon blood stained hands.

We all talked and laughed and joked. The shirtless skid row bum began telling us of his 13 year old daughter and he seemed real proud that she grew a set of really big titties. He gave an indication of their size with a cupping and bouncing of his hands in front of his chest. They seemed big. He laughed. We all laughed. Then he talked of how he and his wife divorced nine years ago. I asked him why, and he replied with a desolate sort of smile that, “The mother in law pooped in the soup.”

We then finished our beer and said goodbye to the bums and shook their pigeon blood stained hands. One tried to steal a funny kiss out of Etta. I waved farewell and we went to Nilo’s little flat, where he promptly passed out on the floor like a curled up kitten. It was now passed 9 AM and Budapest was groggily waking wide awake for another day of work or whatever else Budapest people do in the morning. I soon left Nilo’s flat and walked through these streets with sleepy-time eyes and a longing for the bed that awaited me at the Bubble.

Links to previous travelogue entries:

  • Pipe Talk and Graffiti in Budapest
  • Chinese Migration Business and Global Conquest
  • Travel Guitar

Budapest Skid Row Pigeon Hunting
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Filed under: Eastern Europe, Europe, Hungary

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3169 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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