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Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Adventures of Getting to Budapest on 9/14!

There was a reason Steven titled this year’s blog as The Adventures of… because getting from Pecs in the south of Hungary up to the capital city of Budapest was indeed an adventure. I had reserved tickets back in the States on the 12:50 express train to Budapest but it turned out that our train really left at 12:35, was not an express train to the capital, but actually a 1 hour ride to Godisa, then a half hour bus ride to Dumbovar, and finally back on the train to Budapest, but of course to another station than was on our tickets. Turns out that part of the train tracks were under repair, thus the need for the bus. The MAV, Hungary’s train company, was very efficient making sure the bus met the train so all turned out well.

But all the credit really goes to our chatting with an older Hungarian/American couple in the waiting room who were really going on the 12:50 train, seeing we were clearly confused when none of the staff spoke English, and then translated for us. Then a Hungarian man, overhearing us, kindly said he was going all the way through to Budapest, and would be in effect our guardian angel, making sure we got on and off when we were supposed to. He was accompanied by his wife and 2 young children but nonetheless insisted on carrying our bags off the train, then wanting to pull mine over the tracks and onto the bus etc meanwhile leaving his poor wife to muddle through by herself, despite our protestations that he remain with her. Perhaps he thought we were too aged to manage by ourselves!

The adventure didn’t end there though; when the ticket agent on the train took one look at our tickets, there was clearly something wrong. I had reserved 2 ‘senior’ half price tickets but it turns out they were only valid if you’re a resident of the EU. So, she considered the 2 tickets as one full ticket, i.e. mine because I was too 'young' by MAV standards to be a senior , and then charged us for one senior, non EU ticket, for Steven sine he’s SO much older than I and qualified for that one!

At long last, after all that excitement, we got to the Lavender Circus Hostel located in a perfect location in Budapest, right near a metro station and lots of buses. Rang the intercom and were told to come to the top floor, which just happened to be 114 steps up with no elevator, natch, because it was a heritage building.

To top it all off, it appeared our reservation had been lost (Hint: sign of things to come!) but luckily I had the confirmation in hand and Flower, the lovely receptionist, found us a charming room after talking to Adam, the owner. What a relief! The hostel had a decidedly funky (yes, Alexander, I can hear your chuckle at my using that word but it is apt here!) feel to it but we were made to feel very welcome even though Adam, whom we chatted with the next day, said the hostel doesn’t normally get people of our age staying there! He was insistent that we notify Flower or her colleagues if there was anything we needed during our stay.

Quite an ecletic mix of themes, wouldn't you say? This reception cum kitchen cum living room was all in a state of 'gentle disrepair' - the vinyl/leather couches you see above were comfy even if there were nothing but padding coming through on tyhe seat parts; likewise the chairs, which looked like they came from MY grandparents' home, all had their batting falling out underneath!
Loved the owner Adam's own murals on the walls.

Needed time to settle in after such an eventful day before heading out in the rain for dinner of good Hungarian food eaten on the restaurant’s patio amid the rain. We were good and cozy with blankets on our laps, warmed by a nearby heater and a well deserved glass of beer for Steven and wine for me to warm the cockles of our hearts.

Beef stew and a pasta like side for Steven
I dined on artfully presented spinach stuffed chicken.

Back 'home' to the hostel for a well deserved night's rest dreaming of sunny skies for the next day; hey, we can dream, can't we!