Coming to Budapest gave me some anxiety. It was mostly free floating and mostly was just a vague worry of what could go wrong in a struggling former eastern block country trying to be a successful independent democracy so everyone is gonna be on the take, feeling 😉 Things started badly. In Vienna I got to the train station an hour early. I watched the departures screen carefully. I went to the track early. A train pulled up and I saw Budapest so I got on. 25 minutes into the ride the conductor came by to check tickets. This train was coming from Budapest and going to Munich. All was not lost. No problem, he said, just get off at the next station and cross to track 3 and there will be a Budapest bound train in 10 minutes. Which I did and this time it worked. I could exhale again and relax. I ordered a Radler which is a pre-made, in a can Shandy made from German beer and lemonade what could be bad? It was very exciting after being in the land of mayonnaise ham, cheese and bread to order a simple and very tasty Caprese salad. Food can be good on a train. Luxuriating in my recovery from near catastrophe, I pondered in amazement all this comfort could be gotten for 29 Euro. I napped only to wake in Hungary. A sullen squat balding guy comes by and I hand him my ticket. He looks glum and starts shaking his head. Looks at me. Speaks in Hungarian. I star back blankly. Duetsche? I helped him out: I speak English. Is there a problem? Yes big problem, this ticket…it’s no good. Let me cut to the chase: Even though I had been reassured by two Austrian conductors that there was no problem (and after all it was an Austrian train, run by the Austrian Train authority OBB), I was told by the Hungarians now: You are in Hungary now. So they wanted 32 Euros, making my cheap ride, not so cheap. I told them I didn’t have it and did they take credit cards. No they did not, just cash. All my anxieties came flooding back. I was tempted to have a 14 year old temper tantrum and get off the train and go back to Vienna, but thought better of it. I actually didn’t think I had the money, but in the end I had almost exactly 32 euro which I am sure did not go to the OBB. The taxi to the hotel was not easy either. Sorry for the long digression, it’s all to say that all was redeemed when I got to my hotel and they informed me I had been mysteriously upgraded (more on this later) to the most amazing hotel suite I have ever stayed in (Thanks Corinthia Hotel!). Having not a clue where I was going I left the hotel after check in desperate need of a drink and dinner! I was so stressed everything was blurry 😉 In the light of day (yes it was so good I went back for lunch) I got a better picture of Kiado Kocsma.Given it was my first night in Hungary I ordered a bowl of Goulash and a Salad.Both were great, the salad was filled with chunks of tomatoes and pepper and had both iceberg and arugula. The Goulash was redolent of caraway and paprika. The bread was moist and spongy and I used it to get every last drop of the goulash. Oh and of course I had some Hungarian beer. With tip this feast cost: $10.95. I sat at the bar.and took in the room Here are some pictures of the space during the day, I had an delicious duck and almond salad today and may go back tonight with some new friends I have made (artists from NYC) because it is so good and so reasonable that it is almost unbelievable. Isn’t it nice when stories have a happy ending? Much more to come. Oh and if any of you have any Budapest stories I’d love to hear them.
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