The flight to London and on to Budapest, Hungary was uneventful. The clouds which I normally don't pay attention to much were spectacular. I enjoyed following the last half hour of the flight following the historic Danube River from Vienna to Budapest.
Passport control and customs took minutes and the first order of business was to get to Keleti Station where earlier in June we had taken the train directly to Chop, Ukraine
I came to the same international travel office at the train station when I asked the older lady about a ticket from the Keleti station to Chop. She threw up her hands and said that that train didn't run anymore from Keleti, but was doing so from the Nyuagati station about five miles away. Oh brother! I had to find a taxi and pay $15 to get over the right station. The station was smaller and not as busy as the Keleti station I had just come from. Eventually I found the international ticket office and bought the passage on t he Inter City Train to Chop to arrive at 9:15 in the evening.
I had some time and stopped for a salad at the McDonalds adjacent to the train station. It really helps to have the wheelchair with me as people are so helpful and kind to me.
After lunch I wanted to explore the train platforms and make sure I had the right one with the train going in the right direction to the right city. Well, the board had nothing about Chop at 3:20 PM. It had something about Chop earlier, but it was not the train that I thought I supposed to take. Then I asked a conductor about THE TRAIN to Chop. He pointed over to the next train and said "there's the train to Chop and to Ukraine." It will get you there. It was still about an hour before the other one was supposed to be going and it didn't have anything in the name of the train saying Ukraine, that I decided to take the one that the official conductor said would take me there.
The train was not as nice as the Inter City Express that our June 2006 foursome took. The windows were dirty; the cabins worse. And it was crowded. A bad start. I thought that in the five hour ride I'd figure out what was what. Well, finally through some bad German translation to a young lady sitting across from I found that this train was going TOWARDS Chop, not directly TO Chop. There is a difference. Then I was told I would have to "take a car" across the border. The border crossing from Hungary to Ukraine is one of the most inhospitable "I don't care about you" borders that I have every crossed anywhere. And, now I saw that I was not on the right train. The young Hungarian lady whose name was Melinda across from me was thinking about how to stop and transfer to the the other train which was following us and going across the border. Another lady overheard our conversation and came over and literally studied the schedule for an hour and planned a strategy for me to get off at one of the bigger towns and change to the right train. The conductor on our car on the other hand was brusque and uncaring and wasn't concerned where I went.
Finally we saw that when my train came to the end of the line there was a 12 minute opportunity to catch the right train that made the border crossing a breeze. So, we'll see. The new conductor seeing the wheelchair I have in the aisle asked me through the ladies if I needed any help. I told him "yes" but not the kind he was thinking. I told him I needed to make the other train. He shook his head and aid that that was iffy. But, then he perked up, grabbed his cell phone and a made a call. He called a conductor on the train I needed and told him to hold it if necessary. Well, I'll see if that happens and if I make it. Got to pack this thing away and get my four big pieces of luggage out by the door of the train.
On the train
Thursday, January 11, 2007