Arrival in Budapest, Hungary

Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Budapest, Hungary
We arrive in Budapest just before 10:00 am....more than half an hour ahead of schedule. At the modern airport going through passport control and customs is a breeze. We head straight for the mini-bus and off to our hotel the Ibis Centrum. There is freezing rain falling. This the grayest that I've seen Budapest.  
It's a bit early to check into the hotel, but one room was available. We put all our luggage into one room and headed out to look around. We decided that we would have dinner later that day with Janos Karlik at the same little restaurant down the street from the Ibis when we rendezvoused with Dan and Cindy Harper a little more than a year ago. This brought back happy memories.
We had lunch in a pub-like place on the street.  

Then, we thought it might be wise to get our train tickets for the trip to Ukraine on Thursday. The train situation is a bit confusing in Budapest and travel to the East. I've done this route about a dozen times and only ONCE did it turn out exactly as I would want it and that was when Katherine Rowland and Cassy Gardner travelled with us in the summer of 2006. There are two train stations to leave from. There are train changes to make. Then you have to connect at Zahoney to the little putt-putt train that takes you across the Tissa River into Ukraine. It's a 15 minute train ride on a one car train, but it takes you into another world-Ukraine!
I'm glad we're doing this today because we're finding that indeed the train schedule I had has changed. There are regular trains, fast trains and Intercity Expresses. At the train station we had a nice young lady who was actually INTERESTED in where we needed to go. Often the clerk couldn't care less about where you are going or if they even sold you right ticket. Not this one. Our train back from Zahoney to Budapest is an Intercity Express and requires reservations. She knew that and got them for us.

Last year with the Harpers we had the "teeeket" incident in which the conductor was demanding more money from us after we got on the train which we eventually had to pay. I say "teeket": because it seemed it was the only English word the conductor had in his vocabulary...besides maybe "police" which he threatened to call if we didn't come up with the money. Hope all that's covered this time.

We stopped at an upscale coffee house and had a cappuccino which was just the right thing for a dismally gray day like today. We are thoroughly enjoying Scott and Carolyn Scharpen's company whom we are getting to know better. Caroline is the daughter of Don Clark who recently died in Sacramento, California. Small world.
Bev got me a new stocking cap before leaving for Europe, but it's a little small so we looked around at the train station for something else. We walked into a shop run by Ukrainian twin sisters from Odessa. They were fun to talk to. They sold me the right-sized hat.
We were met for dinner by Janos Karlik and his son David along with and Ken Martin from Macon, Georgia. It was good to connect again. Janos was going to come along with us for about two weeks, but pressing commitments back home in California forced him to return to California on the 15th. Bummer! We were looking forward to us going to Ukraine, Poland, Latvia and Estonia. Ken Martin is along to feel the ambiance of Eastern Europe and seemed to really enjoy the experience.
Janos is teaching a course in atmospheric science at an institute in Budapest. He does this sometimes twice a year. We had a great time at what we call "Dan and Cindy's restaurant."   
We are absolutely exhausted not having been in a bed for two days but Bev and I had to finish writing grant proposal for bore holes in Malawi. The grant proposal (which is a sure one) from Rotary International is for $25,000 for wells in Malawi. We still needed a few corroborating signatures from Rotary clubs in Blantyre, Malawi. That's the most difficult aspect of getting a grant...all the signatures.
We had to write about a half-dozen times to get them to send them which now they did to us in Budapest in a 4 meg PDF file. We have to forward this back to our daughter-in-law back in Indianapolis so she can include them as the last missing piece of the grant application. We were not able to forward this bigger than usual file. Fortunately, Scott had Acrobat 9 Professional and we were able to extract only what we needed and send over a 270K file, but his took about an hour to do just as my Internet time was running out. But, we got it. Sweet. And so was the sleep. Tomorrow to Ukraine! 
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Re: greetings
You are hereby accepted! We will definitely tell the Schultz's hello. Will stay with them for parts of three days.


Glad the trip is going well and that getting the tickets wasn't an adventure! : ) Hope you and everyone get some sleep soon. Wishing you well from here--our high is supposed to be TWO degrees today! Brrr!



Have a wonderful trip!!
I had to laugh over the hat not fitting, we often have that problem in our home because we have such big heads....well not Robert, but the rest of us.

Safe trip.