From Budapest to Vienna – A Story About Today
Today we traveled from Budapest to Vienna.
Our morning begins with the oh-so-exciting chore of packing up our backpacks. It’s been five days in the same apartment and we’ve forgotten how to be organized so our stuff is spread out all over the place. Checkout from our Airbnb is at 10:00am and we want to run out for breakfast first. We finish packing and head to Szimply, a hipster café that a friend recommended. We eat the most amazing avocado toast and french toast.
We get back to our apartment just in time to grab our bags and get out. Only problem is, our train doesn’t leave until 4:40pm and we really don't want to wander around the city in 85 degree weather with our backpacks. There’s a nearby coffee shop that has a “stay all day” vibe going on, so we sneak to the top floor and find a corner to dump our stuff. I order a coffee and Chris goes down the street to get a haircut. I drink my latte and watch a movie on Netflix - don’t worry, I pause the movie and act like I’m doing something important whenever someone walks by. Chris gets back looking super handsome in his new hair and we spend some time planning our itinerary for Vienna and eating bagel and ciabatta sandwiches. It’s 2:00pm and we’ve definitely overstayed our welcome. Time to move on!
We catch a metro to Heroe’s Square since we haven’t seen it yet. We get there and take a picture of the Millennial Monument but it’s too hot to stand there for long. Instead, we find a bench in the park, drop our packs, and do some people watching. I wonder if this is what it feels like to be a homeless person... then I realize that we actually ARE homeless. We get ice cream because it's hot and because we love ice cream.
An hour later we catch a bus to the train station. I'm standing on the bus, squished into a corner and there are beads of sweat rolling down my stomach and back. I keep thinking bugs are crawling on me but, nope, it’s just sweat - gross! Once we get to the station it takes approximately 15 minutes to figure out how/where to print our tickets. We find our platform with the help of Google Translate and get on the train - it’s a really old train and we’re in a little car with four other people. We start chatting with the girls next to us who are students from the UK. There’s a Hungarian man and woman as well, but they’re not together. We later learn that the woman is an opera singer...a freaking opera singer! The train leaves late, and everyone in our car starts reading - we missed the memo about bringing books so we resort to playing silly games on our phones. It's super quiet in our cabin - like "you could hear a pin drop" quiet. I'm beginning to get hungry and I pray that my stomach doesn't start growling because everyone will definitely hear it. The Hungarian guy gets off a few stations down and an older woman takes his seat. An hour later later the train stops - we’re in Austria now, about 20 minutes from Vienna. It’s almost 7:00pm and by now we're starving but the train still isn't moving. The conductor says something over the speakers and we all turn to look at Opera Singer for a translation; there’s been a car accident ahead and ambulances are blocking the track - we’re not going anywhere.
We sit on the tracks for an hour when suddenly Opera Singer jumps up, “We’re all getting off, there’s another train coming. Grab your things!” she tells us. We get off the train and onto another one. Wait! Apparently the new train is not going to the same station. If we take the new train, we’ll have to transfer to a bus and then another train after that…sounds complicated. The Opera Singer is staying with the original train and we’re sticking with her. We jump off the train right before it takes off - close call. Another hour later and our train is finally moving! We make it to Vienna about 3 hours behind schedule and wave goodbye to Opera Singer and British Students.
It will take an hour with public transportation to get to our Airbnb so we catch an Uber instead. Our driver doesn’t speak any English but we work out that he’s originally from Macedonia. He drops us at our place where we meet Philip. Philip is a graphic designer and one of our flatmates for the next three days. He’s from Berlin but has lived in Vienna for five years. We chat for a bit and he recommends a pizza place down the street for dinner.
We find the shop and order pizza by using mostly hand motions before realizing that we don’t have any euros and they don’t accept credit cards. An older gentlemen standing in line knows a little English and points Chris in the general direction of an ATM. I sit and stare at the pizza...and the clock - the restaurant closes in 10 minutes. Chris runs a very far distance to an ATM and gets back right as they’re closing, but the owner is nice and lets us stay and eat. The pizza is delicious.
We get back to our Airbnb but can't get the door to open. There are three locks and none of them seem to work. No one is home, so we spend a good 15 minutes trying all combinations of the locks and key before figuring it out - hallelujia! Which brings us to the present moment - showered, sitting in our bed with a blanket that doesn’t cover our toes, and laughing about how no two days are ever alike when you're traveling.
Yesterday we slept in, took a leisurely walk in the park, watched the sunset from a hill, and went on a river cruise down the Danube. Yesterday was lazy and blissful and quiet.
Today was definitely not yesterday...but we loved it all the same.