A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Of all the places in my “off the beaten path” journey, Budapest is probably not so off the beaten path. It is instead quite a big, metropolitan city with a plethora of tourists and the Hungarian authorities surely surpass those in their neighboring countries on how to effectively promote their tourism. For me, Budapest is still not that “beaten” compared to many other popular destinations like Paris and Rome, it still reserves this particular charm that makes you awe and want to come back.
We had quite an eventful train ride from Zagreb (Croatia) to Budapest. We were almost late, so we ran like crazy. Miscommunication added to the panic as it was not so clear which train and which coach would take us to Budapest. My friends and I almost got separated, but we finally managed to sit together on the right compartment. As we’re crossing borders between 2 different region (non-Schengen to Schengen), policemen came to check our passports and why I am not surprised that they’ve never seen our Vietnamese passports before and it took them forever to process our travel documents =.= But all was fine, until we were told (in Hungarian – thank God for our fellow passengers who can speak English) that the road was under construction and that we had to get off the train at this station and take a bus and then catch another train. Imagine if no one translated for us… we met quite a few other passengers who had no clue what was going on as well.
So we got off the train as told, hopped on the bus. And then, it was an endless journey on the bus without anyone telling where we were heading to as we kept stopping at one train station (in the middle of nowhere) and then continued going again by bus. Repeat that for 3 times and we could finally get on a train. That was still not bad. After we got on the new train, 2 officers came to check out tickets. Even though we were already checked twice, this time they told us that we got the wrong tickets! They said our tickets were for the direct route, while we’re on the train that took the longer route. And they charged us 12 EUR each when it’s totally not even our fault to change trains! It was so ridiculous, but we didn’t want to continue to argue with them and 12 EUR is a not big amount so we paid anyways. Still, that was a very bad experience, with 1) the ticket officer in Zagreb who sold the tickets to us (did I tell you that they WROTE the ticket by hand and it was like 10-page thick?!) and 2) the Hungarian officers who were completely not understanding and overcharged us (the difference in price was only half the amount they charged).
We finally, finally arrived at Budapest and instantly felt so relieved. We were no longer surrounded by mountains and forests anymore, we’re in a city! It was nice and funny at the same time, seeing the city lights and suddenly appreciate them so much 😀
The apartment we rented was really great too. Do check out DnD apartments if you have around 4 people. It cost us only 10 EUR/person/night for a super nice and modern apartment very close to public transportation! It’d been a long day, so we had a quick meal and went to sleep, super excited to explore the Pearl of the Danube…