Thursday, September 27, 2007

HUNGARY for some more!?

When I am tired,
I sleep fetal style,
Being awoken numerous times during the night,
does not make Peter smile {: (

That's a little ditty I wrote aboot when I am tired. Nora says I curl up like a baby in middle of the bed, like a cat....a tired cat....without the fur....although I did look a little scruffy now.

I conversed with a very friendly Aussie bloke (Americanically named Dallas) about life and lifestyle. I'm sorry Dallas, Austin is a much better city (but it is still in Texass). We were very much on the same page with the topic of enjoying life and not being a slave to work, or the "Dallas" Man. Nora's grandfather, a brilliant man in my opinion, was once quoted, "Any fool can get up in the morning and work."

Homemade hostel

So the day began by departing the quaint Home Made Hostel and taking the metro to Nepliget station, where one would catch the international bus back to Bratislava....if one could figure out from where the bus departed!!!! "Left by the planetarium" we were told. What kind of bus company uses an unmarked parking lot in front of a Planetarium!? I guess all of them in Hungary, never mind, I answered my own question. After walking length of the Central Park-sized common looking for the bus, we took the metro back to see if we would catch a train to Bratislava. A lot of run around we finally headed off to the main train station (ironically next to the train tracks!) and as we were exiting the metro were stopped by ticket enforcers who demanded to see our tickets. Here is how the train system works in Budapest: you buy a tickets and every transfer you make, you must buy an additional ticket. However, there are no ticket kiosks where you transfer. Thus, trickery!

"You must pay fine" the lady with the little black book told us. "5,000 Forints." Telling her there were no ticket kiosks to buy new tickets was no use. We had to catch a train in 15 minutes so to get away we had to pay the fine, but one problem, we didn't have 5,000 Forints (don't worry, it is really not that much money, don't let the zeros fool you!). Nora was taken away while I was told to stay there. She was frightened because she didn't know where they were taking her, maybe to the Hungarian slammer, or a torture chamber? I don't think they cane in Hungary, do they?! The destination was the ATM....

Train not Bus we were running to catch the train back to Bratislava. Nora went to buy tickets for the soon-to-depart train. "Forget about the tickets, let's just jump on the train" I told Nora. One would assume you could buy tickets on the train, right? It was like a scene from Gone With the Wind, the train pulling away as we are running to get aboard. I don't really know if there in a scene like that in the movie, but you get the gist. Dramatic, just like the beginning of our day had been thus far...and would continue to be. I asked the conductor if we could buy tickets after the train was moving and he told me "no problem." Relieved after the frustration of terrible signage and hidden international bus stations ("station" is a loose term in Hungary.
That is, until the conductor tried to sell us tickets. The tickets would be more expensive on the train, that was to be expected, but he went into a explanation in Hungarian which we were not able to understand. Two tickets came out to 58 euros. I paid the remainder of the Forints I had left and the rest in Euros. He kept telling me that it was "business". Over the euro bill be kept making the universal sign for half by trying to cut the bill in two. Do we need to give him more money? Does he think that the bill is fake? We are unsure.

What passes as we bribe the conductor As most conductors do, he asks us where we are from, we explain we are from the US an get ready to show him our passports since it is an international train. No need. Once he find out that we are American, the "business" becomes more frequent. He takes our euro bill and signals to us that he will be right back. When he returns to our cabin he gives us the half of the 50 euro bill not from his train money belt but from his own personal wallet that he went to fetch. He then pockets our money. At this point the meaning of "business" becomes a bit clearer to us. When we inquire about where our actual tickets are he says "No. Business" and in very broken English says that he is the Hungarian conductor and he will talk to the Slovakian conductor about our "business". We just paid off a Hungarian and it was sealed with a handshake. We were a bit tense the rest of the ride, since once you cross an international boarder there is a new conductor that boards the train and asks to see your tickets. We were not sure how to explain our lack of tickets and the "business" to the new authorities. As it all turns out we were asked to see only our passports to the Slovakian conductor and passport control officer.

This is how business is Hungary!

It was like a day at Disneyland, fun-filled and action-packed, like a Chuck Norris movie (by they way, Chuck Norris is very popular in Eastern Europe, we have seen him spray painted on the wall and his movies all over the sub-titled TVs!). And the day had not even ended yet.

We waited impatiently for the bus to the airport and knew we were cutting it short. It took a very, very long 30 minutes to the Bratislava airport. The flight had closed, as we rationally deduced, but didn't really believe. "You can pay 75 euros to take the next flight" the unhelpful Ryan Air lady said to us after she was done playing on her cell phone. Screw that, we didn't pay that much for the original flights combined! "Thanks, we'll take the train." I replied. So, back on the crappy bus we went into town. We stayed in the Possonium Hostel (remember, where the movie hostel took place), met an American from San Francisco, and played with the enormous, snorey hostel bull dog who was recovering from an illness.

A run through the historic town and some piwos ended our action-packed-like-a-Chuck-Norris-movie day.

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