MY EXPERIENCE LIVING AND WORKING IN CROATIA AND HUNGARY
As a gemini I often find myself in very obscure situations as I sit there thinking to myself 'how did this even happen?'. These moments make up for a collection of wild nights and crazy adventures, and will always be some of my favourite stories. My unruly behaviour lead to me to living in Croatia and Budapest over the course of two summers, and as I partied with strangers from across the world, I fell in love with how carefree I felt. For me, it was about the connection I felt to these random people I would meet for 24 hours and probably never see again.
The first time, in Croatia, was in 2018 on my Birthday trip starting in Pula, Croatia, and working my way down to Greece. However, I never even made it to my 4th stop and ended up spending three and a half months working on a pub crawl in Split. My summer in Croatia was hot and hazy with a lot of long nights and early morning swims, you can read about my summer here.
The second time was last summer (2019), when I was in Budapest for a summer adventure and (as we all know) I fell in love with Budapest all over again. The city never ceases to amaze me with things to do and see, so when I was offered a job working at one of Budapest's party hostels and live in Hungary for 2 months, I couldn't say no!
Located right on the Adriatic sea, Split is Croatia's second largest city. It's small Old Town is a maze of winding streets, all leading to it's Palace and Bell Tower, which is located right in the heart of it all. My summer in Croatia was unforgettable. I fell in love with Split and it's charm and I became very familiar with walking its streets at 4am. I was only meant to spend 2 - 3 days in the city before moving down the coast towards Montenegro, however I got caught up in my love for what Split had to offer. By the end of the summer I had a wild, loud, slightly crazy family who I had lived and worked with for months on end.
I worked at Crozzies Pub Crawl during my time in Split, which pretty much became my home and family during my time in Croatia. It was the first year Crozzies was open and mixed with the 2018 World Cup, with Croatia coming runner up to France, it was pretty wild. Each night had a different theme, with Hawaiian and glitter being my favourites.
HOW I GOT THE JOB?
If I'm being completely honest it was kind of the 'right place right time' kind of experience. My birthday is the end of May, which is the start of European summer, meaning that a lot of hostels, pub crawls, bars, and anything that is related to tourists will be looking for more staff or volunteers to help them through the influx of people over June - August/September. I got my job at Crozzies Pub crawl (Croatian Aussies) at the beginning of June and worked until the end of August.
I had met two Irish girls at Fiesta Siesta, the hostel I was staying in, and we became pretty inseparable. During our time in Split we would make our way down to Crozzies every night and had the most amazing time. Then, we decided to spend a few days in Hvar, one of Croatia's most popular islands. Every night we stayed in Split we would go down to Crozzies, then we went off to Hvar for a few days. We continued to speak about how much we loved the pub crawl and I mentioned that I didn't really have any need to go back to Ireland, which is where I was living at the time. I joked about how I wished I could work there for the summer, and the girls insisted that I asked Sunny, who was the owner of Crozzies. We decided to change our plans and stay in Split for another week after we got back from Hvar, and when I was back I asked Sunny if there were any positions for a job for the summer during one of the pub crawls, in which he replied 'come back tomorrow for a chat'.
The next day I was hungover and sweaty from the constant Croatian heat but went back to see him nevertheless. We chatted for a while and he described what the job would be and what I would get in return. He said he thought I would be a great fit for Crozzies and I said I would love to work. That evening I texted my coffee shop job in Dublin telling them I wouldn't be coming back and that was that.
WHAT WAS MY JOB?
While I was working for Crozzies my job was predominantly to promote the pub crawl throughout the day, which involved walking around Split Old Town and Bačvice (the tourist beach) and trying to get people to come along to our pub crawl that night or during their stay in the city. At night we would party with the guests, clean up mess, look after people who got too drunk and just make sure everyone was having a good time. Split during the summer months is one of the hot spots in Croatia so every day there would be batches of new people coming to the city to explore and have a good time. It is also the starting point for a lot of sail companies like Sail Croatia, Contiki, Topdeck, Busabout and Sail Week, so there were a LOT of people up for a good time.
All the promoters that worked for Crozzies lived in the same house and we would usually wake up between 10am - 11am (I typically woke up to the sound of people yelling and playing music). We would all split an Uber to Bačvice and our 'official' working day began at noon. We would meet up with our manager for a swim before sitting down and discussing the pub crawl the night before to discuss any issues we had or funny stories about the guests. We were then allocated where we would be for the day, one half of the team would be promoting at the beach for the day and and the other half would either be stationed at certain 'hot spots' throughout the city and stand there promoting from 1pm - 5pm or they would do laps throughout the town finding people for the pub crawl. At 5pm we would have another meeting where we would eat food and chill, then we would be out on the Riva (Split's main promenade) and around town from 6pm - 9/10pm doing the hard core promoting. This was the most crucial part of the day because this is typically when people would start coming out to find things to do for the evening.
Split is a pretty big party city so there were 3 - 4 different pub crawls that would be on each night, so it was always about trying to sell yours the best. I did this 6 days a week for 3 and a half months (we worked 12 - 14 hour days) and honestly, it was exhausting. At 9/10pm we could go up to the pub crawl and join in, then we would be finished by around 2am, get home for around 2:30am/3am, unless you wanted to stay out partying, and be up for 10am the next day.
For anyone who is unfamiliar with how promoting works, we would basically go up to people/groups and talk about the pub crawl with them, what we offered, how much it cost, where it started and so on. I had to say the same speech over and over so it was pretty easy to talk to a group about the pub crawl while thinking about literally anything else. Typically it started out with "Hey Guys, do you have any plans for tonight? If you are looking for something to do we have a 2 hour open bar with all you can drink" and so on and so on.
WHAT WERE THE PERKS?
Working at Crozzies was paid, although like a lot of summer/seasonal jobs, it wasn't a lot. I also got free accomodation for the summer which was a small house in the country with 4 bunks (8 beds) and 11 of us living there, as well as free entry into clubs and free alcohol while we worked. Our monthly wage ranged from £250 - £475 depending on how many guests we got to join the pub crawl throughout the month, the more we got, the bigger the bonus. Croatia is definitely a cheap country to live in, however we would always get Ubers and buy food while we were promoting because we were always too tired or didn't have time to get the bus or cook for ourselves, which is something that really bothered me. Most of us ran out of money half way through the month and would have to live off 2 minute noodles and börek (it's like a savoury pastry often eaten in the Balkans).
Some of you might be confused because a lot of promoter jobs are commission based, meaning that you would get a small percentage of each ticket sold. Another one of Split's pub crawls (I won't name it) was commission based and they would get 10% of each ticket sold, which worked out to around 25 kuna (£3) per ticket. It doesn't sound like a lot, however if you could get 10 people in a day, £30 could go a long way in Croatia. On the flip side, working all day for no commissions isn't fun.
Budapest is always going to have a very special place in my heart after my first visit in 2017 and I absolutely love the city (hence why I keep visiting again and again). The city holds so much history with endless things to see and do, plus it's known as one of the best European cities for partying. From its thermal baths to views from the Fisherman's Bastion, I think Budapest is such a charming European capital and I can't help going back. 2019 was the year I volunteered at one of Budapest's best known party hostels, Vitae, for two months, and let me tell you, I loved every second of it!
You can check out my Living in Budapest blog post and my Bratislava to Budapest blog post for my recommendations!
HOW I GOT THE JOB?
To start off my summer adventures for 2019 I had booked a one way flight from London to Budapest for (around) £30. After my summer in Croatia the year before I had no intention of doing another summer job again and I had planned to spend this summer travelling around central European countries including Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary and Croatia. I had booked to stay at Vitae hostel, which is one of six hostels owned bu Budapest Party Hostels (BPH). I spent four nights there and fell in love with Vitae instantly, so booked a few extra nights. The staff were ridiculously friendly and so much fun, there was a great social vibe and it was just a great place to be (especially for solo travellers). I got myself pretty involved with all the drinking games and nightly activities they offered, as well as spending my days mingling and exploring the city with new found friends from the hostel. On one of the last nights I was meant to be staying at Vitae before heading off to Austria I was pulled into the toilets at Retox (one of the sister hostels) by two of the girls who worked at Vitae where they offered me a job, I was so in shock I cried and said yes!
WHAT WAS MY JOB?
Living in Budapest was a very different experience to Croatia and my job was very different. I was known as a 'House Bitch' which was a their form of a volunteer. My job entailed starting at 11am, going through all of the rooms and remaking the beds of people checking out, sweeping, moping, cleaning the bathrooms and showers, changing the bins, cleaning the kitchens, grocery shopping for the hostel, etc. I did this 6 days a week and would usually work from 11am - 3/4pm. I would then get the afternoon off to do whatever I wanted which usually involved cooking food, doing laundry, socialising with guests or going on a walk around District 7 (all the hostels are located very close together and District 7 is known as the party district of Budapest) to see other staff from the other hostels.
Every night at 7pm Vitae organises and play drinking games with the guests, so our job would be to round people up from their rooms and make sure everyone was involved and having a good time while leading these games. Then, each night was a different event that we would do with our sister hostels (Grandio, Retox, Meander and Carpe Noctem), so we would help lead people to where they needed to be, look after them and obviously socialise and drink too.
This is what I really loved about working at Vitae, each night of the week was something different - it ranged from pub crawls, boat parties, bus parties, open mic nights, bingo, etc. We would always get free entry on to the events unless we weren't working that day then we would pay a discounted rate. The other thing I really loved about working for BPH was we were like a big, unruly, weird family. During summer there were 100+ different staff that worked across the six hostels who all had weird nicknames based on dumb/funny things they had done during their time in Budapest (we're talking names like Toast, Doggo, Thicc Boi and Gaggs), the staff were all wildly fun and there was a lot of love for each other.