Saturday, June 13, 2009

Eger Busted

Michael and I were at the train station in plenty of time to catch the train to Eger; I had bought the tickets the day before with Balazs's aid. When we looked at the departure board, there was no train to Eger listed, including the sub-stations that the train would travel to. I saw the town Fuzesabonyleaving from track 3 and since it was on our ticket along with Eger, we went to track three. Now at Keleti station, there are guards who only allow ticketed passengers through. No problem, we had tickets. When I confirmed with her that Eger was track three, she said no, track eight. Okay, we went to track eight, but first I looked at the departure and arrival sheets that are behind thick plastic making them as readable as a newspaper in a sand storm. Eger 8. She was correct, but I checked again with the ticket inspector on this side, who pointed to the train on track eight and waved us through. Nestled into our seats, the train left on the minute it was scheduled. Impressive indeed. Fifteen minutes into the ride, Michael gets up to go to the bathroom, runs into the conductor who wants to see his ticket causing Michael to make an immediate about face. We are on the train to Romania. What the f(&*? We are told to get off at Szolnok, a town I had never heard of and had no desire to learn about. It took over an hour to get there, but that did not end the trials and tribulations. We had options to return to Budapest and then go to Eger again or we could go to Hatvan, change trains, go to Fuzesabony and then on to Eger. The latter choice would get us there at 3:30 pm, while the other would land us in at 5:32 pm. It turned out that additional tickets would cost us 1,220 Huf each with my teacher discount and with his student discount. I paid mine, received my ticket, looked to Michael who was not reaching for any money only to be floored when he said "I am sorry, but I am not putting out any more money for tickets." IF I had thought fast enough, I should have said, "You are right, good-bye", but I did not want a scene after this hassle and paid it. Though I have to say I fumed for hours, which he did not notice or at least respond to. The train station is about a mile from the center. What were they thinking? We rushed through the city, the TourInform was long closed, but I did manage to find three nice hotels in the center for the book. We found two restaurants and the city is much lovelier than I had remembered. We were running late to get back to the train station for the 7:34 train, which if we missed it, we would have to wait until after 10:00 pm for the last train. We bought our tickets, but the woman clerk told us we needed seat reservations for one portion of the trip. She did not however, sell them to us, escaping my attention. When the female conductor came for our tickets, she asked for our reservations that we were not in possession of and then started screaming at the top of her lungs. She asked our cabin mates if they spoke English and the poor man said he spoke a little while trying to explain why she was upset. We tried telling him that the clerk did not charge us for or give us reservation tickets. He and the woman in our cabin started calmly speaking to the conductor, but she went berserk. We really thought she had lost it. She then disappeared and returned with a young man whose English was quite good, who explained she wanted us to pay 890 Huf for a seat reservation on the spot. Fine, we did. Then I said she had not given me my ticket back. Her hysteria escalated to the point I thought she was going to stroke out in front of us. As it turned out, I had stuck it in my wallet in the confusion. When I discovered it, she burst into tears, crying without abandon and continued her tirade the whole time. When she finally abandoned us, the gentleman told us that he and the woman sitting with us were trying to get her to by-pass the reservation fees, since we were misinformed, hence her theatrics. We finally arrived in Budapest at 9:40 pm.

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