The next part of our journey was Budapest where we would meet up with all of our other travel friends, spend a couple of days in the city, then board our Viking River Cruise up the Danube. But first another train ride from Vienna to Budapest.
The ride was only supposed to be 2 1/2 hours, but we had first class tickets anyway. We got to the train station about an hour and a half before our train was scheduled to go as we did not have seat assignments listed on our tickets so we wanted to clear that up. After finally finding the proper ticket office we discovered we had to pay extra for seat assignments! While it was only $8 each seat it seemed strange for a first class ticket and had not happened to us on any of our other train trips. It was 10:20 when we finished at the ticket office and our original train was scheduled for 11:30 and while we were at the ticket office they said there was an earlier train we could take at 10:30. I said no as I didn’t want to rush in only 10 minutes to get out to the proper track. It turns out this was a mistake.
We went to a little coffee shop in the train station to wait for our train and we could see the schedule board from there. I soon noticed that they showed our train was delayed by 20 minutes, but this didn’t seem like an issue as it was a direct train. But the delay times kept changing. Every 15 minutes or so they would add another 15 or 20 minutes to the time. We eventually moved into the 1st class lounge as the delay dragged on. Eventually after 3 hours they finally listed a track for our train so we moved up to the track. While at the track I noticed it listed a different train number going to Budapest on the same track at only 6 minutes before our train. This caused a great deal of confusion with everyone trying to figure out if there were two different trains (there were) and which one they were supposed to get on. When the first train pulled in I asked the conductor which one was ours and he told us to wait, while it seemed like most people there got on the first train. But many others waited too, and sure enough our train pulled in about 10 minutes after the other train left the station.
We were finally on our train to Budapest and it was pretty empty, I assume because others got on other trains. After about an hour the train slowly came to a stop in the middle of nowhere and they made a series of announcements we couldn’t understand. Finally in English we heard them say we had to get off of this train as it was not allowed to enter Hungry for some reason I still don’t understand. We were told we had to change trains and sure enough in about 10 or 15 minutes another train showed up that we were told to get on, but this time with no reserved seats. The train was pretty full and we of course were adding passengers with none getting off. Leslie and I thought we were going to have to sit apart, until a nice young girl from Japan who was travelling with friends got up and offered their seats and they moved over to sit with some other of their other friends. Still a very stressful time for us, in large part because it was hard for me to understand what was going on.
We finally arrived in Budapest about 5 hours late! But we got there safely. We were told by others that taxis in Budapest were not always to be trusted and they don’t have Uber. But our friend Darrell Frisse had told us about a taxi app named Bolt that I was able to download while on the train, and sure enough we were able to use this to get a ride to our hotel.
A long and stressful day, but the end result was out arriving at the wonderful Prestige Hotel near the river in Budapest and meeting many friends there. On to the next chapter in our trip!