Thursday, March 08, 2012

Make Money Through Adversity

A close up of statue bust of Hungarian king Be...
Image via Wikipedia
I am updating the Hungary chapter for the Frommer's Europe book. One small piece of the chapter discusses Esztergom, the capital of Hungary until King Bela IV moved it to Buda in the mid 13th century. The primary reason for visiting for the majority of tourists is to see the cathedral or capital of Hungarian Catholicism. 

I had been to this quaint little town a number of times to explore in general, and then later as research for various books I was working on at various times. However, this time, not only am I short on time, but the section is too paltry to warrant a visit. The next best thing was to get a student to make calls for me, navigating the Hungarian language where I cannot in order to get to the heart of the matter with brevity of time in mind. She did an excellent job, but one thing that seemed to be such a glaring mistake it rattled my attention after gaining it. 

The quest was to find out if bus numbers 1 and 6 still go from the train station to close to the cathedral and if they still charged 150 Huf and 180 Huf respectively. They are from two different companies, hence the difference in fees. The response returned to me was that all public transport in the city has ceased to exist as of July 2011. The only buses on the road now within the city are those that go from point A to the hypermarkets and return. There is no other transportation. 

I was incredulous; how could a city survive without any public transportation? This is nearly impossible. Oh heck, wait a minute, I have been out of the US for too long. Most towns and cities have no to very little public transportation. Duh!

Trusting this student was not a issue. I have known her for a time and trust her implicitly, but some things you just need to hear for yourself. I Googled, I searched, I read, I explored. Either there was nothing about public transport in the articles I found or for those that did refer to it, showed the last update as pre-2007.

Could I trust the tourism office when they cannot decide if they are TourInform or Budapestinfo Point? I called the national tourism number, taking a risk on honesty and integrity. Golly gee, I was informed that all public transport went out of business in July 2011 due to the economy. The only buses are those for grocery shopping.

Here is the deal. During tourism season for those not in the know, you can do one of two things. Sell cheap walking shoes at the train station or offer rides in a golf cart to and from the church. Let adversity pay off for a change.  Is it any wonder why King Bela IV looks so sad in this picture?
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