International Services (part 2)

So I leaped out of my chair, most of my shirt sticking to my seat and informed Team Tired that we might be on the wrong train. After thoroughly checking some maps to make sure this wasn’t a simple country crossing en route, we found we were actually closer to where we started, on a train terminating at Prague via Vienna. Through Slovakia.

Well, actually, this information wasn’t gained through sitting on our arses watching Slovakian countryside but Gill and I found the nearest guard with whom to have a chat:

I gather we’re at Nové Zámký.
Er…how do we get to Balatonlelle? (pointing at map)
(raucous laughter)
This is Slovakia.

Fantastic. Now only a mild three hours off schedule, on a train hurtling in the wrong direction, we had to find out how to get to a place we’d never been to, from the neighbouring country we didn’t even intend to visit.

Time for the Thomas Cook Independent Traveller’s Edition European Rail Timetable Summer 2008 Edition to prove its worth. After all, we had another 30 minutes until the train made another stop…

Revised travel plan: dinner at Rio’s relatives’ abode put on hold, get off at next station, go back to Budapest and get on the right sodding train. If only it were this simple. Disembarking at what could only be described as a sparsely furnished stop-over, we were accosted by Slovakian children trying to sell us books. No thanks. No, I said…look – no!

Ah, a guard. Do you speak English? Of course not. Frenetic map-pointing and gesturing it is, rewarded by a handwritten piece of paper detailing the route to Budapest. Departing in an hour and a half.

An hour and a half later, we wait an additional 10 minutes on our Slovakian station platform home to catch our train to Budapest Keleti pu, planning (on arrival) to leg it to the metro in order to cross the river and make it to Budapest Deli pu in a mere 15 minutes. Well, some sweaty Surreyites can dream, can’t they?

Needless to say, after meeting a representative from the Budapest tourist office on our train from Nové Zámký who assured us it couldn’t be done, it couldn’t be done. This left us at another station, at approximately 7 o’clock, with more despairing investigation to do. At least we were in the right country.

Fuelled by some of Burger King’s finest Hungarian cuisine from a few kilometres away, and watching the rain pour on trains we shouldn’t board, we were left with what we hoped were a final two choices: board an earlier train to Siofok, with a 45-minute lift to our host’s accommodation at approximately 2330 or catch the milk train to our original destination, getting a 10 minute lift from Rio’s really rather lovely relatives. We chose the latter.

“Aaagh! What the hell is that noise?”

Oh, it’s the 500dB of brakes screeching at the first of our twenty-odd stops.

ETA: 0045

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