Last night we caught our train from Vienna to Budapest. It got a little harry as we assumed we were leaving from the same train station that we arrived in and we were, in fact, leaving from the station across the street from our Hostel. This wouldn't have been too much of an issue but we got to Sűdbanhof Station about 30 minutes before our train left and discovered we had just made the 25 minute trek across town with 50lbs of luggage. We actually were supposed to be leaving from Westbanhof and only had a half an hour to get there. So we RAN. We even had to run up about six flights of stairs with our bags on our backs to get to the train part of the station (most stations in Europe house not only the trains, but the metros and the trams as well). We found our train and got on the very first car that we could and walked to our car from there. The train left the station within 90 seconds of us boarding. It was a VERY close call! But we got a little work out so we'll take what we can get :)
Three hours later, we got off of our train in beautiful Budapest!!! We were a little tired since it was getting close to 9:30pm and we'd been either walked or running all day. We immediately went to the InfoCenter as we always do followed by the nearest ATM. That's where we started to run into some trouble. The ATM wouldn't allow me to pull ANY money out and Jocelyn was only able to pull out about $5.00... which is obviously a problem.
So we figured we would keep walking and head towards our hostel and see if we could leave our bags while we ran to another atm and checked out accounts online to make sure everything was okay. Now, the directions stated that we had to catch a metro and get off at a particular station that was only 400 meters away from the hostel. Thankfully, with Jocelyn's $5.00 we were able to pay for metro fare and got off at our appropriate stop. So then we started to walk... and walk... and walk... and walk...
400 meters in Hungary is very obviously not on a scale recognized by any other country as far as we are concerned. About 13 blocks later (we have come to find in our two visits to this wonderful continent that everywhere you want to go is really 13 blocks away regardless of how far away it actually is... this may be 30 feet or it may be 3 miles... there is no rhyme or reason. That's just how it is) we finally arrived at a non-descript door that had absolutely no indication that we could see that this place resided in the set of apartments located within. Jocelyn took over as I was turning into a puddled mess of worry as we had no money and no idea what was going on with our accounts. A little Hungarian man waived Jocelyn away but she refused to give up. She found the man's wife and the lovely woman and Jocelyn played a game of international charades that resulted in Jocelyn locating our hostel, one floor up. To make things a little bit better, our host- Csaba- said it would be no problem to pay in the morning.
An hour later, I was still freaking out about the money but we decided we would figure things out in the morning and just needed to move on and take some showers and clean up. Thankfully, in a moment of utter brilliance, I realized that the ATM had never asked where to pull the money from, Savings or Checking, and she had a feeling it was pulling from Savings. Reviewing our accounts, we found out this was correct and moved the money to the savings for the morning and went to bed.
This morning, we got up and went to the nearest ATM to pull our money out to pay for our stay in the hostel. Jocelyn had no trouble whatsoever... and I still couldn't get any money... which resulted in a little bit of a freakout which turned into a massive panic attack when we got back to our hostel and the internet said that her account was entering an inccorect password or username... Working in the bizz, if you're online isn't working and you can't pull money out that means your account has been frozen...
But fear not!!! Jocelyn always keeps a level head and calmed me down and we began to strategize... well, we did this after Jocelyn went back to sleep as it was early and seeing as I couldn't sleep at all given the circumstances. Jocelyn happened to check her account online and I noticed the money pulled from Checking... after I had moved ALL of mine from checking to savings based off of what had happened at the other ATM. Jocelyn also pointed out that she hadn't bothered to get online this morning so I hopped on and Voíla! The site was working and there was no problem with my account. Two issues happened to coincide to make it look like the worst possible thing had happened.
Ulcers may be the result of this trip but it will be better.
Jocelyn has loved Budapest since the moment we got here despite the little mishaps along the way. I am trying to keep an open mind but am finding it extremely difficult at this point. We got everything with the money worked out fine and I have full access so there is nothing wrong there but then I decided that we should get some gelato... I know, it's a theme with us. Gelato makes everything better... except my gelato cost twice the price than what Jocelyn got... and we paid for the exact same thing.
Oh, I forgot to mention!!! We got our gelato AFTER touring around a little bit. We decided to go to the Opera House beause that is a "must" for all tourists. Or so we are told. So we set off to see this Opera House... and missed it and ran into St. Stephen's Basilica instead! And that was totally worth it. It is amazing and huge. We did not go inside as I was a bit worn out by the events of the morning and having screwed up the directions and missed the Opera House. I feel that today may have been an "off" day, we shall say. We also passed the Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter, which, as it turns out is only about 6 blocks (not 13!) from our hostel. It also happens to be the 2nd largest Synagogue in the world!
We won't be able to update pictures while we are here unfortunately. We have found that the connection here, while it works is a bit slower than dial-up and we don't want to risk overloading this poor CPU.
We are planning to head out on a Hop On Hop Off tour tomorrow to see most of the big sites so stay tuned for more!!!
Have a great night/day!!!