Jun 052010

On the way home from my little outing in the Buda Hills it began pouring once again. This worried me because of the evening’s plans to attend Kitti’s birthday party in the park – but luckily it let up after only an hour, and since I had no easy way of getting in touch with the group (to verify that it was still on), I simply assumed it would be and headed out.

I was right, but unfortunately meeting up turned out to be a far bigger challenge than expected.

First off, I’d somehow misunderstood the location of the park entirely – it wasn’t in fact the one across from where I lived, but a good 15 minutes’ tram ride away. My mistake. As I struggled to find my way there, trying to call one of Kitti’s friends who’d messaged me her number on Facebook, I pumped every bit of change I had into a payphone that I can only assume was malfunctioning. My GPS didn’t know about the park, nor did anyone around me. In the end I found myself running all the way back home to call from Skype, at which point it was already an hour and a half after the starting time of the party.

Thankfully, by a total stroke of luck they happened to’ve just left and were riding the tram line *right* by where I was staying – so I popped outside and hopped on as they passed by. Phew, now that was an effort!

I probably should’ve bought a Hungarian SIM card when I arrived in the country, as this was now the second time a lack of local communication has caused me problems meeting up with friends 😛

For the duration of the evening we partied at a club on Margitsziget – an island in the Danube that’s mostly a public park, but houses a few sports complexes, bars, and clubs as well. It was pretty fun, though I have to admit I was a bit surprised at how quiet it was for a Saturday. Perhaps my observation from the previous weekend holds true: weekdays actually are better for nightlife in Budapest than weekends.

Eventually we left the club and, after a bit of deliberation about where to head next, split the group in half. Kitti I returned to the dorm to watch movies and sip wine for the few hours I had left in Hungary; I figured that since it was my last night and I had an 8-hour train ride ahead of me, an all-nighter couldn’t hurt too badly.

This proved to be a mistake.

Although the conditions on the train were about as perfect as I could’ve hoped for – I had a 6 seat birth all to myself, where I could pull the seats out to form a flat double bed – for some reason I just couldn’t manage to doze off. Maybe it was because of the bright sunlight, or because I was so hungry. By total chance I’d managed to use up just EXACTLY my remaining forints, leaving only enough for one slice of pizza for breakfast (and I really didn’t want to use an ATM to withdraw just two or three dollars of local currency).

Or maybe I was too concerned about reaching my destination. As it turned out, the “direct” train to Ljubljana wasn’t exactly that; a few hours after our departure, a conductor (who spoke not one word of English) started telling me something about getting off at Ormoz and taking a bus to Pragersko. Huh?? Considering that outside the window was nothing but an expanse of farmland and tiny little villages – certainly not the types of places with ATM’s or accommodations – I was pretty nervous about what would happen when I got there. Should I get off? Stay on? I kept envisioning myself getting off at Ormoz as he insisted, watching the train pull away, and looking down a long empty road with nothing in either direction – and no cash in my pocket. Or staying on and ending up in some random city in the complete wrong direction. The placard in the window did say Ljubljana, but the guy seemed quite insistent that I had to get off – even though it was clear where I wanted to go. Since I had no idea when this “Ormoz” place would pop up, I wasn’t able to sleep much.

Eventually I learned that the issue was all due to a restoration project on a short length of track; everyone had to take a bus just for that portion, after which we’d resume our journey to Ljubljana on a different train already waiting on the far side of the construction zone. So when we reached Ormoz, I got off like everyone else. No problem whatsoever.

Man, if only that guy spoke just a little bit of English 😥

It was in Ormoz that I realized I’d at last crossed into Slovenia: my first “new country” of this trip. In fact, my first new country in over a year. Though it was far too rural to really gain a strong sense of the place, it felt great just to know that I was once again within an entirely new land – with an entirely new people, language, culture, and environment to experience.

Look out Slovenia, here I come 🙂

  7 Responses to “Another Sleepless Train”

  1. I know exactly what you mean about how sometimes a bit of that unknown combined with lack of sleep and a bit of stress can make a helpful (but non-english speaking conductor) seem like the beginning of a problem. Had a similar issue when I went to see a secluded bit of the Great Wall in a far off part of the country. Bus dropped me off in the middle of nowhere with only a bunch of cabbies (who didn’t speak English). I had to negotiate a ride without knowing how far away my destination was. I ended up paying about $20US for a 3 hour cab ride (round trip) because the cabbies took a bit of pity on me and decided not to gouge me.

  2. I would have been majorly stressed too had I run into that situation

  3. @Mike: You’re really lucky you found a nice guy to help you out! Considering the dire straits it sounds like you were in, that could’ve turned out much more…challenging.

    @Andy: Well, it wasn’t so much the stress per se, as the annoyance that I knew I couldn’t let myself doze off. Kindof ruined my plan of having a nice 7-hour snooze and waking up in the next city feeling alert and refreshed 😛

  4. you are so brave !

  5. Haha…I don’t think so…but thanks! 😉

  6. How about not worrying and doze off and see what happens? 🙂 That’s what I’d do. It usually works out just fine.

  7. That’s what I did from Germany to Holland…it worked out, sure, but it resulted in a half-day loss!

    Besides, waking up in the wrong major German city with a pocket full of euros is different than waking up in the middle of a field in Slovenia with no cash, food, or water 😛

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