Journal entry for Saturday, February 7, 2009
Travel day! The Andersons and ourselves boarded a train at 10 a.m. and headed for Hungary. The lady who sold us our tickets said we’d have to switch trains in Budapest. So, doing as we were told, we got off in Budapest and lugged our suitcases down the walkway to find out where to board the next train. We had only 9 minutes to do all this, so we were hustling!
On the platform we saw a sign that seemed to indicate we should have stayed on the train for our final destination. But knowing that signs in Eastern European train stations have a reputation for changing at the last minute, we didn’t believe it as truth immediately. Suddenly a railway worker walked up to us and asked in English where we were bound. When we told him, he said, “That’s your train.” Sure enough, he turned and pointed at the one we’d just left.
Meanwhile, the clock was ticking. So we ran down the platform and reboarded, laughing and panting all the way. Darwin said that he’d traveled by train in E. Europe for 19 years and had never been approached by a railway worker who offered directions, let alone in English. I think he was an angel.
This train ride was quite comfortable – an open car with seats for two rather than berths with seats for six or eight. We sat opposite an older Hungarian couple who spoke nary a word of English. She spent the afternoon cross-stitching a picture of a cathedral and family emblem while he stared out the window.
When we reached our destination, a Hungarian IM couple met us and drove us 45 minutes to their home. She served us a typical dinner – bread, deli meat and cheese, tomatoes, cucumber slices, and pepper slices. I really enjoy visiting our staff in their own space and being a part of their culture and routine. It’s the only way to go as opposed to being a tourist and seeing only touristy things.