A long and testing day

Trip Start Jun 07, 2009
Trip End Sep 06, 2009

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Where I stayed
Crash Hostel

Flag of Slovakia  ,
Tuesday, August 4, 2009

After a pretty big night the night before on the pub crawl, we reluctantly packed our bags both overcome with tiredness and grogginess - well ok, a full blown, seedy hangover. After pottering around the hostel and calling home we made our way out into the heat to grab out last meal at the lovely Lugas. I had my first and last goulash which, under normal circumstances would have been delicious, but in my delicate condition, found it a bit of a chore to stomach.

I was determined that we weren't leaving Budapest without going to one of the baths - that's what you do there and we were going to do it, no matter how crap we felt. The walk there seemed to take forever and we finally got there, waited in line to get tickets and by the time we got in, only had 30 minutes to spend in the baths. We went to the Gellert one which is meant to be the most opulent. It was confusing to find our way into the pools and then we could only find a cold normal pool and a much warmer, thermal pool - wasn't quite what I was expecting and I felt like we were missing something. It did make the heat a lot more bearable however, and feeling somewaht more refreshed, seemed to reduce the severity of our hangovers.

We paddled, soaked and relaxed for half and hour then grabbed the metro back to our hostel. We were cutting it a little fine and had allowed ourselves an hour to get to the bus station. By the time we'd finally got back and headed off again we only had 30 minutes to get there. I was a little stressed about it but we made it with 10 minutes to spare. We'd booked our ticket with Orangeways which was ridiculously cheap at about $16 and promised lots of fun, cheery and friendly staff and wonderful things like movies, free drinks and wi-fi on the bus. We knew we'd have to pay one euro to put our bags in the luggage storage of the bus but were then angrily told in Hungarian by the driver that our day packs would have to go in there too as they were too big - and we'd needed to give him another euro. My bag fairly easily fit into the testing cage they had but they still insisted we'd have to put them both under and pay up. Sam lost her shit a little but we reluctantly paid up and got on.

We did get a movie loosley dubbed in English subtitles, no wi-fi, a shot of coffee and the friendly staff must have been on another bus cos they weren't on ours! The trip did go relatively quickly though taking only two and a half hours. Sam passed out with her neck at a 90 degree angle for most of the trip as I watched the movie and the scenery rush by. When Sam woke up she noticed a few tiny red lumps had started appearing all over her legs. We suspected they may be ed bugs but the hostel had been so clean, it wouldn't have been that. We passed through thunderstorms and hail that were so strong they nearly shook the bus. Endless fields of sweetcorn and sunflowers passed us by and as we got closer to Bratislava, the ugly communist buildings appeared. Some of them they'd tried to beautify by painting them different colours, most though, were just a miserable concrete grey.

We pulled into the dodgy looking bus station and made our way inside. Thunder and lightening was all around and drops of rain were threatening to pelt down at any minute. We wandered around the station for about 10 minutes in search of an ATM to get some local money out. There was none to be seen so we headed out the front and noticed a big bank building across the road. We walked around the huge building and found it was closed but there were ATM's inside. I tried swiping my credit card, which often in Europe will allow you into a small room where you can access the ATM's. No luck. We went back into the station and tried to find anything that looked like tourist info. There was nothing even vaguely resembling it so we went to a shop to see if they could help us. They didn't speak any English but got the gist of what we were looking for and shook their heads and said "No, centrum". Frustrated that we could catch a tram to the centre of town without a ticket but couldn't get a ticket without local money, we stood at the doorway of the station and tried to work out what on earth we were going to do. The few people around the station just stared at us or totally ignored the two helpless looking tourists.

I noticed a newspaper shop that had a sign indicating how one euro equals so much of the local currency so thought I'd try my luck at changing some euro coins into local money so we could get a ticket. She just looked at me blankly as I tried to explain my plan. I then kept pointing to my euro coins and saying "bus, centrum". She showed me a ticket book which had seventy euro cents printed on it and looked something like a bus ticket to me. I bought two and we headed for the trolley bus stop. We worked out which side of the road we should be on and waited. The bus number that the hostel had given us came but didn't show the name of the direction it should have so we decided we were on the worng side of the road and crossed over. We waited for our number to come past and then saw it go past on the other side of the road with the name of the direction we should have been heading in. We crossed the road again and waited again. An hour had now gone past since we got off the bus. The darkness of the thunderstorm was making us both nervous. By this stage, the last thing we needed was to be caught in a downpour. 

Eventually our trolleybus arrived and we made our way in to the centre. We got off where we thought we should, and after getting a little lost, eventually got to the hostel. They were booked out. We'd checked thier 100 bed availability in the morning before we left Budapest and they'd had loads available so we thought we'd have no problems. They suggested we try another one around the corner and down the street. Four hostels and four rejections later, we still had nowhere to sleep and it was now 9pm. I left Sam in an alleyway with our bags while I walked up and down the street in search of accommodation. The rain was drizzling though thunder was pounding all around. I went down an alleyway which advertised a hotel. Pretty desperate by this stage, we'd decided we'd pay whatever to get a roof over our heads. It was actually a hostel and they had rooms available - slightly more than we'd ever paid before, but realistically, that was the least of our worries. I ran back to Sam and with great relief told her we had a home for the night.

We checked in then headed across the road for a late dinner. Exhaustion and relief took over and we went back to our sanctuary for a good nights sleep.
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