(This is the 17th post of our Croatia-Budapest trip, June-July 2014)
Saturday, June 28
We ate another amazing breakfast, sneaking seeded rolls & slices of ham back to our table, then making small sandwiches for the train ride ahead. Good thing we did.
We thought we had paid for a high-speed first-class rail ticket, but apparently there was some problem with the train, or our brains when we made the reservation (don’t think so), or something, so we were we to take Train A and transfer to Train B up the line.
So what was supposed to be a quick 4-hour ride, ended up being a train ride to oblivion. Because we had fancy tickets, we had to kick out some squatters in our seats. By some miracle the numbers matched up and they left.
All the cars had been tagged with graffiti.
This guy came around and banged the wheels before we were boarding–a metallic hammering sound. I have no idea why. Scenes from the trip:
We kept stopping and adding more cars. The train would shudder as they’d connect, then we’d slowly take off again. This was repeated several times, until at the above stop, we added cars and then chugged backwards. We had started out with a relatively small train in Zagreb, but when it was time to get off the train in Budapest (nearly an hour late), the train was so long, that those of us in the nice car (which had been at the front at the beginning of the trip) were so far back we had no train walkway to land onto — only train tracks. Instead we walked through several cars to get to where we could see the train platform of sorts — this was patchy asphalt — but worried about being carried back to Zagreb, so hurriedly got off, dragging our suitcases until we made it to the less-patchy asphalt platform. We weren’t in Kansas, Toto, and it felt like it.
Train Station eats. We found out we had landed at the less nicer of the two train stations. No kidding. Now comes the game to change money.
We try to hit the bathrooms before figuring out the next transportation hassle, but the bathrooms require coins. Florints, Budapest coins. So we finally find an ATM, get some money, but need change, so we buy our subway tickets (someday we are just going to take a cab, I know it), get the change. Then we take turns watching the luggage while the other person uses the bathroom. Holding our subway tickets in the air, to show the guards at the top of the escalator we are law-abiding tourists, we head down into the mass transit system.
Dave is in front of me by two paces, and as he rounds the corner toward the train, the doors are open and it is waiting. He starts to make a run for it. I holler at the top of my lungs, “Don’t you dare get on that train!” and he freezes just before jumping inside. I can envision him being whisked off to somewhere in Budapest while I am left on the platform to dissolve in tears, weeping as he leaves me behind, no money (he had all the florints), no husband, nothing. Luckily our marriage was saved by his good reflexes, and we caught the next train.
We took the train to a street-level tram (signs on the street, above) and by following the maps I’d printed off at home, make it to our Palace. No kidding. It’s Hotel Palazzo Zichy and it used to be some nobleman’s palace of a home-now-turned-hotel. We loved it.
They speak English! Our room is ready! and this is where the room number is in the hallway: at foot level. Our room is perfectly lovely.
View out our window, into the inner courtyard.
They recommend several restaurants for us, but we are interested in the little bistro just outside our hotel in the square: Matrjoska Bistro.
Citrus-y Bulgar SaladFreshly baked bread, two varieties
Garlic and sour cream — garnish for the borscht
Chilled pumpkin cream soup with dill jelly (detail, below)
BorschtGrilled Catfish and VegetablesAnd to finish off, cake and ice cream (they make the ice cream next door to the bistro, but it is owned by the same people)
Poppyseed cakeVanilla ice cream
(Many of my reviews of Budapest are found on TripAdvisor.)
Bordering this little square are the hotel, a church, a very fancy (apartment?) building, and a more normal apartment building with a pub in the basement. In the dimming light, we take photos of the surroundings.
More details about him on the hotel’s website.We are too worn out to do anything else, so after these two tasks: eat an amazing meal and explore the square, we walk back across the street to hotel.
Our internet works fine, and I laugh at the translated website: “Perhaps a little maintenance on our own selves is why summertime is such a tonic, even if we don’t know what ails us.” The bistro and this hotel are the tonic tonight, complete with chocolate on our pillows.
Next post: Camera-less Tourist and Castle Hill
1 thought on “A Train to Budapest”
I love the train graffiti at the beginning of this post. Very nice. We were lucky to be met by two speakers of Hungarian–my niece and her friend–which made our arrival so much easier! Well done, you two seasoned travelers!