Sunday, December 16, 2007

Leaving Budapest

We were a fine tuned machine, all packed and ready for our 11:10 am train this morning. We ran around and did a few last minute cleaning activities for the guests who will be renting the apartment while we are gone, and out the door we lumbered with a backpack of computer equipment, one carry-on with rollers, and a nylon bag we used for our safari last year. Packing lean and light with a number of books to read and leave behind, we were efficient, though each of us sports a shoulder bag for everyday essentials like wallets, tissues, cameras, and so on.

After getting ourselves gathered into the elevator, we were ready for our first leg of the great adventure, not realizing some excitement was in front of us or rather around us. Our building elevator has not had an interior light for the last week. Why no one has come to replace it, we don’t know, but the elevator has functioned regardless. Between floors, it is horror tunnel dark and a bit creepy, but we have suffered through it for the sake of not having to trek the stairs. As we were in a descent motion, the elevator came to a sudden and boisterous halt between the fourth and third floors, blocking out any modicum of luminescence. Frantically pressing any and within seconds, all of the buttons did not prove to be of any assistance at all. We sat trapped like a corpse in a coffin, trapped in the shaft while feeling shafted over our plans thinking about our train that we most likely were going to miss. There were two thoughts that we had to be thankful for, one was that we were not catching a plane that we would surely miss and second, it was not a guest stuck in here missing a plane they were sure to miss. We leaned on the alarm bell and hoped someone would hear it and respond.

Our neighbor across from us came to check out the noise. She hates noise, which is sometimes our good fortune; any noise at all will cause her to investigate and scream if she thinks there will be any control issues. She called another neighbor and we heard them speaking, but nothing we could understand. Fifteen minutes later, the elevator carriage with us and our luggage was being hoisted by a pulley back up to the fourth floor. As grateful as we were, it would have been so much better to have been let down gently to the ground floor so we did not have to drag our luggage four flights of steps. Either way, we were free and thankful.

With as much energy as we could muster with the heavy load, we went to the bus stop and waited. Being Sunday, the buses are not a frequent, so it took minutes longer than usual. We did indeed make our train with just a few minutes to spare. I feared that this was a premonition of how the trip was going to turn out. I hope I am wrong.

We arrived in Vienna after the usual 2 ¾ hours and made our way to our hotel, Pension Wild. After dropping our things off, we intended to explore the Christmas markets; however, it was freezing cold and we were not prepared for it. We had winter coats, but our lighter versions that will not be needed in Southeastern Asia. Vienna was 12 degrees colder than Budapest according to the last forecast, so we wimped out and had pleasant thoughts of the hot climate we would be sweating in within days. We did one market that wraps around the streets, then did tram rides for the rest. Our train ticket from Budapest includes 4 days of public transport in Vienna, so why not take advantage of it for one day. We did brave the major square at St. Stephanplatz, but had to stop into Starbucks to be fortified with hot coffee first.

After dinner at our favorite restaurant, the Willendorf, we managed to get back to the hotel before icicles started hanging from our noses. The mattresses at the Pension Wild are amongst the best I have slept on away from home. I could book a night there and just sleep the entire time. The pillows are not as inviting, but they will do.

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