John follows in the footsteps of the Romans and Austrians
17.09.2005 20 °C
Ok, so no major military losses here... just my pride.
Arriving at Budapest was no problem what so ever. They even had a free map at the subway station (bums, I'll get to that in a second). I'm chugging along happily and meet a hungarian man on the subway who is going to my station, which is one line transfer away. The two of us are chatting, I have my big backpack and laptop carrier thingy with me and a subway official stops me and stars demanding something from me in Hungarian. I figure its my ticket and I show it to her and she points to the back, yells at me and demands some stuff from me. I read the back, where it says in small print. "Not good for line transfers" The hungarian who I had been talking to, meanwhile, doubled back and started yelling back at the lady. Especially after I produced another (unused, but not yet validated) ticket
Evidently what was happening was she was insisting I had to pay a fine and double the normal ticket price and purchase one from her on the spot. The hungarian, who was yelling at her, before I knew what was happening bought one from her. I didn't quite no why till he after they stopped yelling at each other and I spoke to him later. He explained its a scam subway officials run, well not scam, its legal, but its a cheap way of taking advantage of tourists who don't speak the language. They sell you a ticket thats not good for the line transfers (they have one that is) and then they catch you at line transfer points. He handed me my new ticket and I insisted on paying him, but he said it was his countries shame and his shame and would have none of it, despite my insistance. "People here," he warned, "are not very friendly sometimes to outsiders."
In any event I got off at my stop and make my way to the street the hostal I had booked, but not yet paid for, was on. I get tehre and its closed, without explination. It looked like it was out of buisness. By this time I'd lost my friend and guide and was looking around seeing NO english ANYWHERE, not even on my map. The feeling is desperatley overwhelming, especially after the warning I had recieved.
None the less I was persistent, eventually finding a sign that looked like it had the word shoppgudwfnjkwerbfjring on it, which I interpretted to be shopping. It led to a mall where they had an internet cafe. From there I found another hostel...but that was also closed (time is elapsing, I was suppost to be touring historic budapest at this time, not wondering around the city almost aimlessly...its not easy to look at a map in another language and then a street sign and try and find your way around) then I found another internet cafe, got another address and that one was OPEN, thankfully. By then it was 5:30. I was suppost to start touring at 2. I ran around the sights as quickly as I could through the historic district, leaving a lot of it till after my two day tour in vienna that starts with a boat ride up the danube. I got some good pictures and Budapest, on the whole is a beautiful city. Moreso than Berlin I'd say. Sadly my camera is almost out of batteries and this is day 3/15 of my travels...
I don't know if I brought my charger.
Anyway the hostel is nice. Its a young environment with a common room and a bar. Hopefully I'll meet a few kids and go out for a drink at some point. Not too late, the boat ride leaves the port early tomorrow. Boarding starts at 8 and I'll be in Vienna in 5.5 hours.
Its definitley a whirlwind.
Hopefully I'll be able to update tomorrow...keep the emails comming folks, I love hearing from you are.