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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hungary & Romania on 9/16: Lost Reservation, Cancelled Flight & Trying to Send Things Home

Knowing that Wizz Air our airline to Romania in the afternoon, was very strict AND restrictive about their carry on policy, we decided to mail a parcel home of things we needn’t have brought with us in the 1st place, plus things we’d picked up along the way. We checked with Flower at the hostel who strongly advised us not to use the Hungarian postal system. 

Instead, we found ourselves a good hour later having to walk across train tracks and on pretty major streets with no sidewalks way out east in an industrial section not too far from the airport at the DHL office with bags of goodies in hand. Then, after FINALLY reaching the office, we proceeded to spend about 90 minutes having to write down EACH item, its country of origin, number of each, value of each and then total value of said items, plus the grand total of all 40 or so items. We then waited while the very patient DHL receptionist had to enter into the computer all of that information; she did, only to find out that the computer deleted all of it and she had to re-enter it. Only then was I told (Steven had retired to wait all this out on a comfy chair) that the cost would be a whopping $219. So glad we had packed in the box extra bandaids, moleskins, tiny scissors, the postcards I had been collecting, plus small souvenirs and other assorted detritus from our travels - not so much! I wonder if the parcel is at home now waiting for us.
Outside the DHL office where we saw the Trabant car above.  Adam, one of our walking tour guides the day before, described it as being made with cardboard, glue and paint; it was billed as being able to go 90kms per hour but Adam, whose family had 3 of them, said that might have been possible only if it were going downhill!
Since we were in the same general vicinity as the big Ecseri Flea Market, i.e. out in the boonies, we decided to stop by it before heading off to the airport and catch a flight to Targu Mures, Romania. The market's reputed to be one of the biggest in Central Europe, selling everything from antique jewelry, Soviet kitsch to kitchen junk. It was the place where you could first buy jeans. We were there though for only a half hour or so since there was absolutely nothing for us worthy of a second look; what a bust after the hype.

Crazy seeing these!
On the bus back to the metro, then back to the hostel: saw these 2 women and wanted to take their pictures. I 'asked' by pointing to the camera and then to them and got what amounted to OK's. The lady below had the biggest smile but obviously didn't want to share it in a picture. She loved seeing it though! You've got to wonder at the lives they've led.

Final thoughts: Steven and I really loved Budapest and wish we had had at least one more day there to spend a few hours at the baths, seeing the Communist statues at Memento Park, etc. We both thought that had been the only city where we left wanting more. I'm sure Steven wished we had bypassed Brno in the Czech Republic for more time in Budapest!

I don’t know if antique bookstores were just located where we stayed across from the National Museum or whether there were also many others in other parts of the city; I also wish we’d had more time to spend looking at their hundred year old prints and engravings of street scenes, maps and tourist sights in cities all over Europe as we both love that sort of thing. Perhaps in Romania or Bulgaria, we’ll find something although we do have lots of art on all our walls. As you have often said, Ivy, perhaps it’s time to rotate some pieces in and out, right!

Onto our adventure leaving Hungary. Up to now, we had spent all our time on either buses or trains getting everywhere and that had basically worked like a charm except for getting to Budapest but that was only a hiccup in hindsight. Now we thought we had hit the big time and were flying - oh whoopie. Not so much - we had to show our passports and boarding passes at least five times at the airport. We knew the gate closed a full 45 minutes before takeoff but couldn't, for the life of us, understand why. Think of all the movies about living under Communist rule and you get a sense of what it felt like leaving Hungary. I would dearly love to know whether our expereince was because we were flying Wizz Air or whether it was true of all flights leaving the country.

Perhaps a few photos will mean more than my words.

Our plane is so near and yet so far!

After going through another security checkpoint above, we were herded in a chained in concrete bunker with no seats to wait in lines til we could walk out to the tarmac to board the plane from either the front or the back, another first for us.

Welcome to the concrete bunker!

How neat, being in Transylvania. I'd never, in my wildest dreams, have thought we'd be here a few years ago.

Got to the extremely charming Pension Tempo, located in the heart of Targu Mures, where, much to our dismay, our reservation that had been made 6 months ago, had been lost. They put us up instead, at the same rate, at their 4 star partner Hotel Tempo across the river and had a colleague drive us there and back the next morning. The hotel was an ultra modern one, so not really our cup of tea having expected we’d be in a quaint pension room. But, we did love the great big huge pillows, the incredibly comfy beds having last stayed 3 miserable nights in a room with 1” thick pillows, I kid you not. The staff  at both were incredibly kind and made every effort to make up for their gaffe.

After managing to scrounge a much needed cup of boiling water (I had my own tea bags) ands a coke for Steven, we retired to the room, turned on the computer only to find an email from Turkish Airlines. Turns out our nonstop flight from Cirali in southern Turkey to Goreme in the Cappadochia region had been cancelled and we needed to call the airline right away. To make a long story short, we are now booked to leave Antalya Airport at 3:40 AM, yup, 3:40 AM, to fly to Istanbul, then transfer to a flight arriving at Neveshir Airport at 8 ready for a day of sight seeing!

As I said previously, Steven did correctly label the blog The Adventures of .... Think we had enough of them though on the 16th to last us a good while!