Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Budapest ATM hunt of 2013

You know that one movie with Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel? I'm watching it right now, I think in German, in a small town in Hungary. 

Well, I'm watching it as I write. When I post this I'll be at the train station where I can get wifi. My hostel has it, but it's ... struggling. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one here too. 

Hungary, the land of the Toths, has thus far been a wee bit underwhelming. It started at the Budapest train station where I had a layover. I've seen a lot of train stations in the past few weeks, but this one this was the first time I'd felt -- not unsafe, exactly, but not quite safe either. I noticed the difference between former communist and never communist that I'd looked for but never seen in Berlin. 

Then I learned, sitting on the old train, that only half of this train was going to my destination, and I was in the wrong half. I needed to move two cars up. I moved four, just to be safe. Then I sat back and ticked off all the stops until mine. Everything was good. 

Except in moving cars, I only counted compartments, not actually cars. I discovered this when, 10 minutes away from my stop, I heard weird sounds, like train cars disconnecting. I got out just in time to discover I was four rows short of my train to Keszthely, and it was pulling away. And in the middle of nowhere with barely even a train station. Hungary isn't the most confidence-inspiring place to be lost. I sat on the bench by the only track that seemed to get any use and considered a cryfest.  

But another train came, a few false starts and I'm on my way to the hostel. I even found an ATM. I'm an hour later than I emailed them I would be. And when I got there, it was dark. Closed. I knew they didn't have an open reception during the off season, but I wasn't that late. Then I found a note with my name on it. They were expecting me at 3, the time I'd originally guessed. I had a problem. 

I'd just pulled out my phone to make a very expensive phone call when two women and a boy walked up. They worked for the hostel. Just at that moment, I loved Hungary. 

And tomorrow, I'm very hopeful I'm going to love it more. And that there will be cheese. 


Roman ruins around the Schloss Schonbrunn. What's funny is that these are not real Roman ruins, they were added in the 1700s to give the place an aristocratic look.

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