Monday, May 2, 2016

May 2nd - Travel Blog

Hi, it’s Christina –

Prague Train Station
Greetings from Budapest, Hungary! It is a drab, rainy day. I’m hoping this weather will burn off, or at least stop raining. It is supposed to get into the sixties today, so I’m still hopeful.

Honestly, yesterday was the day from hell. It started off ridiculously early, which for me isn’t an issue, but our cab was picking us up at seven, and the hotel didn’t serve breakfast until 7:30, and it was a Sunday, so none of the coffee shops were open. The breakfast crew go in around 6:15, and bless their hearts, they scrambled so we could have something to eat before we left.
This is their version of our Acela Train

The cab driver was great, again didn’t drive like a maniac, got us to the train station in plenty of time, and helped us with our luggage for as far as he could. We took the lift down to the station. A porter, Thomas, saw us looking at the signs, came over to help, and then stayed with us until we got on the train – for a tip of course. Who cares, he took our heavy bags and got them on the train for us.

Light, Airy and Comfortable
They were sold out of first class tickets, so we sat in second class, but we had more than enough room and the seats were comfortable. Actually, at one point during the trip, I took a walk to the dining cart, and passed the first class seating, and I’m glad they were sold out. First class had the same seats as we did but they were arranged in a six seat configuration, and were squished into these tiny dark cubicles.

Jana, one of the ship's crew told me these
are actually black bird nests.
Although long, seven hours, the train ride was enjoyable. The photos throughout this blog are ones I took from the train. One interesting discovery was the strange masses in the trees. I’m convinced Dr. Seuss traveled through the Czech Republic and got his inspiration from these trees. I wish I knew what these things were – mom suggested mistletoe, I think it is a European version of Spanish moss. It’s just bizarre it forms in nearly perfect balls.
Vrani - basically it's a European crow

So we get off the train in Budapest, and I’ve read what a nightmarish reputation the cab drivers have here, so we decided to take the Metro to the Chain Bridge (Pest side) like the Viking website said, but when we got outside the train station, there were no signs to get us to the Metro (we followed the signs for the Metro all the way through the station, but then the signs disappeared).

We decided to roll the dice, and take a cab (3,500 HF – roughly $20), which in the end would have been fine, except it was May Day – (Labor Day & Mother’s Day over here – I guess Labor Day is May 1st & Mother’s Day is the first Sunday in May, so this year they coincided). Being May Day, there was a huge celebration going on – car races, an air show, streets closed, and thousands of people everywhere) so the cab driver had to let us off “500 meters” from where he would have liked. He told us we just needed to get on the walkway and head to toward the big bridge. Okay, not so bad, so we started walking… and walking, and walking. We try to ask directions, just to make sure we were going in the right direction, but no one speaks English, not even the police.
Double Yikes!

Let me tell you, those suitcases got real heavy real quick. We drag all our crap all the way down to where the Viking website said our ship was going to be… and no ship! I suck it up and hit the cellular button on my phone and try calling the ship – both the European number and the toll free number – it won’t go through.
Somewhere still in the
Czech Republic

At this point, I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m so, and I’m furious, so I call out in total frustration, “Does anybody here speak English?” I got a lot of strange stairs, but then four college girls from Poland turned around, and walked back toward us to see if they could help. They let us use their phone to call the ship – all’s good now right?

Somewhere in Slovakia
Wrong. The chick from the ship – and excuse my French here – was as useful as teats on a bull. She wouldn’t send anyone from Viking to help us, she said it was no one’s fault because they had no control over a festival, and she said her ship had been docked since the night before – HAH! Well if the damn ship had been docked since the night before, then there was plenty of time for them to update their website to tell folks the boat was at the Elizabeth Bridge instead of the Chain Bridge (as if the festival was a big surprise and Viking hadn’t known about it for weeks if not months). Even so, wouldn’t it have been logical if they changed docks that they would have a representative at the original doc to tell folks where the damn boat had moved to?

Ruins on top of a mountain. This may
be in Hungary or still in Slovakia I'm
not sure.
Bless the girls from Poland again. They stayed with my mother and me, helped drag our luggage all the way back to where we started and then half a mile past. They literally walked us right onto the ship, then when they refused to take money from us, we insisted. Drinks were on us, and we wouldn’t take no for an answer. Sure enough, the nasty, useless woman from the phone was the one who greeted us when we boarded, and I gave her a piece of my mind again (yeah, I kinda got nasty on the phone before I hung up on her).
These are the college girls who helped
us (we ran into them again today)
Paula, Sonia, Agnes & Alicia
Angels, all 4 of them!

Our “cabin boy”, Sasha, was very sweet. When we found out there was no food available (remember, we hadn’t eaten since 6:30 in the morning and it was now 5:00), he went to the kitchen and made us some sandwiches. Mom and I ate them as we unpacked, then we got changed and headed to the lounge for orientation – where the annoying woman prattled on and on. I have no idea what she said, I tuned her out. (She tried to add her two cents to a conversation I was having with the concierge, but I ignored her then as well – yeah, I was REALLY annoyed with the woman.)

Our Micro Cabin
We had dinner – it was yummy, I called my hubby, and then I went to bed. The bed was comfortable, but by American standards it was more of a cot than a bed (about 2/3 the size of a twin bed). I turned one way and my body pillow fell off the bed, I turned the other and I would lose my blanket. It was a bit of a challenge, but all and all, I slept well.
At least the bath is bigger than the one
we had on our Bermuda cruise!

Okay, I’ve got to boogie. For the first time of this trip we are on a schedule, and I have to catch the Budapest tour bus at 8:45. I don’t even have time to add the pictures and post this, so it will have to wait until I come back to the boat for lunch.

Until then, have a WONDERFUL day & happy writing.