Sunday, January 25, 2009

tracks and packs dot blogspot dot com backslash hilarious

®photo courtesy Franny Finstrom

Hot off the press from freelance photographer Franny Finstrom: she has located THE source for tracksuits and fanny packs. Where on Earth can both of these wonderful fashion statements be found? Where else but Hungary, of course!

Pay attention Tommy: apparently the UK term for a "chad", you know what I'm talking about, is a chav. Enjoy!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Christmas Break: Hungary and the Prisoner of Worker Strikes

Starting from Szeged meant dealing with a few problems. Such as a train strike. The fastest, cost effective, and comfortable option to Budapest is the train, but with the trains on strike for a week my confidence of getting to there quickly, cheaply, and comfortably was waning. Franny and I checked the station hoping there would be an answer either way. The station was emptier than America's pocket book. Anyway, the ticket window was open and after consulting our adviser, an old woman chatting with the woman behind the ticket window, we bought the tickets and were told to walk out of the station and to the left to catch our bus. Yes, we had just bought train tickets for a bus, but don't get impatient, I'm getting there...we wished everyone a Merry Christmas and reflected upon the conundrum of purchasing train tickets for a bus.

Well, up pulled a city bus, but it didn't have route numbers glowing in the front like they should. We asked if it was the bus to Budapest and they laughed. They laughed, but at the same time beckoned us onto the bus, nay, they pulled us on, laughing as they did so. Despite the thoughts of being driven to Ukraine and into white slavery I have become used to odd experiences like this one and as odd as it sounds, white slavery is hardly on the list.

Ok, so we're on the bus which is populated by not a single Hungarian traveler. We have all of the groups represented though: there's the awkward Asian who sticks out all the more because this is a homogenized populated country in the off-season, some light travelers who are probably speaking English in the background, and us, the living-in-Hungary-but-trying-to-get-out group.

A short drive the the second train station in Szeged, one reserved for industrial uses, has us crossing the tracks to a lonely passenger train while until semi trucks are being driven onto a long train, tractor and all. Other than all of the odd prelude it's a train ride as usual where many of the platforms after Szeged were being used as normal. Upon arrival Franny and I jaunted over the Christmas market one last time in Vörösmárty tér, Budapest. Then we went to Jake's and Ellen's apartment one last time before to stay the night and have burritos. My first Mexican food in months. We were entertained by Carla's cat Boo who watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation with us.

Waking at a ridiculous hour Franny and I made our way to Ferihegy, the airport, Terminal 1. Of course upon arrival there is naught but a single soul in the entire terminal. The place is deserted, which is odd for any airport terminal. Because of the airport worker's strike Terminal 1 was closed but we didn't see the sign until we walked around a bit, it was one of those signs that one sticks on the top of a stantion. But we gladly took the opportunity to have breakfast in peace at the Illy café. Afterwards we caught the next bus to Terminal 2 which is surprisonly far away from Terminal 1. Then it was a game of lines... Oh, holiday traffic! Luckily the EU imported greeks to work the terminal which meant that one terminal worked better than two under the operation of Hungarians. (Sorry Hungarian airport workers!) But that was the joke at least, and I have to admit that everything did go smoothly everything considered. So that means we caught our plane on time. I'll meet you all in Germany in my next post!