Monday, August 11, 2008

Reader Comment

This is an unedited comment from a reader: Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Trains of Hungary": I wasn't a bit surprised by your experience. It's pretty hard for foreigners - especially from civilized countries - to get used to Hungary's "fabulous" railway system. Some basics to prepare foreign tourists for the horror they're gonna encounter (should they have the courage to travel by train). I hope you'll publish my comment so that people who have never traveled on Hungarian trains and are planning to, can see what to expect: 1. when buying a ticket, be familiar with the price and format and always check if the date is right, because they are prone to either rip you off right at the start or give you the wrong ticket, so that later the conductor can fine you. (They've tried this trick on me, and I'm Hungarian) There surely must be a way to pump some extra money into the bankrupt company! 2. Never - I repeat, NEVER - expect a train to be on time. Should such a miracle occur, then be pleasantly surprised. Remember, you're not in Switzerland! 3. If possible, try to avoid going to the toilet, chances are pretty high that you'll get some kind of contagious disease! Lucky if you don't just by sitting in the cabin. 4. Railway tracks are in a miserable condition, so the average speed these communist wonders are capable of is around 30 miles/hour. And interestingly, the more money the government spends on improving their state, the worse they get. 5. Don't get excited if the departures/arrivals board does not indicate any delay. They usually announce a delay several minutes AFTER the train is due - if they announce it at all. And never believe that the final amount of delay is the one they announce for the first..second..third.. .. time. 6. Be prepared to avoid dehydration. There's neither air conditioning nor a possibility to buy refreshments on most of the trains. Perhaps only on Intercity trains where if the air conditioning is on, you might freeze to death. 7. Conductors, ticket clerks, and railway staff in general DO NOT SPEAK ENGLISH or any other foreign language for that matter. No wonder: They surely don't have the incentive to learn for an hourly wage of 2 dollars (probably even less). 8. Be familiar with all the stops on the way to avoid the experience you described. You might think that this crazy guy is exaggerating. But believe me, I'm not that far from the truth at all. I'm sure you've heard about the recent train accident in Hungary when the train de-railed. The reason is obvious and it should be a sign of warning for the government. Since luckily nobody got killed, I guess nothing's gonna happen. Welcome to Hungary - Gateway to the Balkans.

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