Taking the train to Budapest

So the train to Budapest was in the company of a group of three traveling students, a semester or two away from graduating. Vee (a guy) had been studying computers. His girlfriend, Lena (short for Carolina) has been studying zoology with an thought toward veterinary school, but it is insanely expensive. She asked me about vet schools in the US, but I'm afraid I was only minimally helpful. But they've got to be cheaper than Australia. The other girl's name is Jo (short for JoAnn). She studies tourism and hostel management, if I understood correctly. We had nice chats for a while and as it got late, they set up the beds (the conductor had shown them how before I got on).

During that night, we were awoken by border agents 5 times. At some point, the door was left open and someone (the conductor thinks it was someone who entered the train and left when it was breifly parked at Sarajevo) came in and rumaged around in two of the girls daypacks but only took a brand new wallet meant as a gift containing a Scotts 5 pound note (not good outside Scotland) and some alergy pills and 70 Euros cash out of my wallet. (I had put the rest in my money belt). At first, I also thought they had taken my bankcard, but fortunately, I was an idiot; it was simply hidden between the pages of my passport back in my moneybelt. Briefly, I entertained what the world would have been like if I had to wait in Budapest for my bank to send me a net card; not happy thoughts, but at least I could have managed it. I had 120 Euros and my ID. The bank would send me money and charge me $50 per transaction, until I could figure out how to get them to send me a new card. So even if the worst happened, it would still have been okay. The girls' packs were found by the conductur in the toilet room in the morning. My wallet had been in my packet, but at some point during the night, as I turned over it fell out and I asked one of the others (I was in the top bunk) to put it in an outside compartment of my small backpack; they had.

When we finally got off the train (2 hours late arriving into Budapest) we were isntantly mobbed by a motley group asking if we needed rooms. The four of us picked out an attractive woman in her late thirties (or early fourties) who seemed reasonable and followed her into the station to change money to Hungarian Florens (250 or so Florens per Euro) and then onto the subway to her flat downtown.

Posted: Thu - June 5, 2003 at 01:55