Trip Start May 07, 2012
Trip End Jun 06, 2012

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Flag of Hungary  ,
Saturday, May 19, 2012

Up and away Saturday morning and on the 10am Bratislava to Budapest train (engine sponsored by Coca Cola). Easy journey of just under 3 hours with part of the route running alongside the Danube. No passport controls just a change of engine from Slovakian to Hungarian at the border.

Interesting arrival at Budapest Keleti Station. Doors opened and we were greeted by a number of swarthy gentlemen all offering us taxis, accommodation, currency exchange etc before we even stepped down to the platform. Had to push through them and then encountered several more undesirables en route to leaving the station. Shame about these dodgy characters around because the station is wonderfully structured and has a real atmosphere with shops and stalls selling food and drink and with trains departing and arriving from all corners of Europe. Checked-in another decent hotel 50 yards from the station. Receptionist was a dead ringer for Les Dawson’s love-child but didn’t dare take a photo!

Two reasons for going to Budapest (for just one night). Firstly to break up the Bratislava-Belgrade journey and secondly because we enjoyed it so much when we visited a few years ago. Popped into our favourite bar for a couple early doors and watched Slovakia beat the Czech Republic at Ice Hockey on TV. Bratislava will be rocking tonight.  Then off to our favourite Budapest restaurant Aranyszarvas which didn’t disappoint. The even better news (for John) is that they served dinner at good speed and in time for us to watch the second half of the Champions League final in a bar nearby. End to end excitement, nail biting stuff but a great finish to a good evening.

The alarm arrived far earlier than we really wanted to wake us up on the morning of our 12th Anniversary which we were going to spend most of on an 8 hour journey from Budapest to Belgrade in a three carriage train with no refreshments available. Straight down to Spar to stock up for the journey and then bought a couple of Langos for elevenses (delicious Hungarian donuty flat breads spread with sour cream and cheese – again as featured on the ‘Hairy Bikers’). Boarded the train for a 9am departure and found quite a few others in first-class, however once the ticket inspector had completed his first round of checking tickets only myself and Janet were left in first-class and we had a compartment to ourselves. Cracking weather outside - not a cloud in the sky.

Interesting, comfortable journey over very flat scenery. Mainly arable land and we also saw lots of vineyards in Southern Hungary. 15 stops on the way mainly in small towns and villages in rural Hungary. For the first time on the trip we had border control checks. 30 minutes in Kelebia (Hungarian side) for passport and customs checks then 20 minutes at Subotica (Serbia) for their passport check. Serbia will be interesting and we’re really not sure what to expect. Feels like it could be the most old fashioned Communist Block country we are visiting. They were of course involved in wars on several fronts just 13 years ago. One of our train stops in Serbia today is Novi Sad which NATO devastated with air missiles in 1999.

Once we’re across the border it’s quite apparent that Serbia is a bit of a mess.  Empty and ruined buildings and factories everywhere and loads of graffiti. Quite a shock compared to everywhere we’ve been so far. Also our peace, calm and empty compartment all changes at Novi Sad (Serbia’s second City) as the platform is mobbed and the train full for the last 2 hours into Belgrade. We have pulled into Belgrade Station on time and hope for the best…….
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Bob S on

"end to end" in the CL final??? are you sure?

Neil Fripp on

Forget the CL, hopefully you were toasting York City for keeping Luton where they belong!
Sounds like your having a great time and agree with Alan and Jon's observations

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