Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dubrovnik to Zagreb to Budapest


Last week I made the near-24-hour journey from Dubrovnik to Budapest. Originally I had planned on stopping in Sarajevo for a night, but it turns out that this is logistically a mess. It's an overnight bus from Dubrovnik to Zagreb, Croatia's capital, then a 7.5 hour train ride (when all goes well) over the border to Budapest, Hungary. Here are some pictures.

This is Zagreb's train station, where I spent most of my four-hour stay in the city.

This is the park I walked around in to pass time before my train left. Zagreb reminded me of Switzerland- very clean, very organized, an old city but very modern. It was an early Saturday morning but people were out and about, playing frisbee in the park and having a coffee out on the plaza.

In the plaza I found a few dozen vendors setting up their stalls for the day. This farmer's market of sorts would not have been unusual, except that every last stall sold the same thing: strawberries. I decided strawberries would make a very good breakfast.

One strawberry, however, turned out to be a shiny black beetle- not the most appetizing garnish- so I put it down on the ground. A few moments later a drunk guy stumbled over and tried talking to me in Croatian, gesturing wildly. I left him on that bench, and when I turned around I saw that he had picked up the beetle, considering its pros and cons as a breakfast food for himself.

Eventually, I actually got on the train, though not before annoying the bathroom attendant by spending over twenty minutes brushing my teeth, washing my face, putting on sunscreen, etc etc at the public sinks. I also was an extra as a team was filming a scene in the station around me- I signed a consent form and everything.

It was challenging finding the train to Budapest: it seemed that nobody actually knew which train went where, including uniformed station officials. I met up with several backpackers from Spain, England, and Mexico, and together we established the identity of a train car, headed to Budapest, though I don't think any of us really felt sure we were on the right train until we arrived in Budapest's station. The train had Harry-Potter-style compartments. They were decrepit and crumbling, and it was blazing hot all day, but I just read and looked out the window. I sat with a young woman from Mexico studying business abroad in Germany, and a Hungarian guy coming home from a "cultural exchange" which, from what I could tell, was pretty much a school-sponsored, multi-cultural orgy.

I arrived in Budapest late that afternoon, after nearly 24 hours of travel- between two neighboring countries! I have officially established that I prefer buses over trains.

More later!

1 comment:

  1. While you were sitting on a bench eating your strawberries... we were picking bowlfuls out of our garden and making sauce for ice cream... now a nightly ritual! Mom