Friday, June 21, 2013

The Train Kept a-Rolli--

I am writing this from a bus I am surprised to be on. (Note: That's when I started it. It is now 10:50pm and I am in Budapest.)

I left Vienna, as planned, on a 6:03pm train scheduled to arrive in Budapest at 8:49pm.

At around 7:15, the train stopped at a town seemingly named Gyor. That was no big deal, as the timetable had listed a few stops before Budapest, but it sure seemed like a whole lot of people were disembarking in Gyor.

But I remained rather clueless to the circumstances at hand until some train personnel ordered everyone off the train, without much English spoken.

As you can imagine I was a bit confused. 

But as was revealed in pieces over the last hour or so, from--

OK, hold the phone. I'm now off the bus, short of Budapest, and now back on a train.

By the time you read this, I've hopefully arrived at my hotel in Budapest (I have) and everything is fine and this hiccup has made for a good story.

But I think the story is this:

Because of recent flooding, the train tracks en route in Hungary became unusable. 

That's why everyone aboard the train had to get off at Gyor and switch to the bus (I imagine there were other busses for destinations besides Budapest.

We were cruising along an autobahn, save for an ad hoc pit stop requested by a passenger (not me). As I started writing this, the bus was about 70 km out of Budapest. That's like 42 miles and at 75 mph, we should have been there within a half-hour or so.

Now I've been on the tail-leg train for at least that long and it just now started moving. I'm not sure why the buses couldn't just finish the route.

--

The train arrived in Budapest about an hour later than scheduled. No big problem, but it seems we were making better time on the bus.

I was intending to figure out the Budapest metro to get to my hotel, which is right near a stop, but everything was all torn up at the train station, so I decided to hop the first cab I saw.

My hotel, the Ibis Centrum is part of a chain and not particularly distinctive, but I'm fine with that. It's well-located, less than $100/nt and has air conditioning.

And it is on the same street as a bunch of outdoor caf├ęs. I just ate at one that was literally 20 steps from the front door of my hotel.

Now I'm ready for bed so I'll just quickly tell you that today in Vienna was spent mostly exploring the art of Gustav Klimt.

First I saw his Beethoven Frieze at the Secession building. Then I explored Belvedere, another palace but one devoted almost fully to art. 

It must have had at least 20 Klimt paintings, most notably "The Kiss" and "Judith." While those were what I consider typical Klimt--bright gold coloring and an almost mosaic like look--they had several other works, including ones that came later, that showed his gold/mosaic paintings were relatively few among his full oeuvre. 

There was a roomful of landscapes that he painted, which seemed somewhat like a mix between Van Gogh and Monet.

The other site I saw today was another ornate church, Karlskirche. It was spectacular inside, but as they're doing some restoration work there's a free elevator almost to the top of the dome. Yet I still had to walk 10 flights of stairs to get to the very top but I did. (You can see what I'm talking about on my Flickr page.)

When I was leaving the church, I saw a woman wearing a Clash t-shirt. I have no idea where she was from or what language she spoke but I assume it wasn't natively English.

I pulled out my iPhone and showed it to her, because my lock-screen image is the cover of London Calling (it has been for years; not done for this trip).

She smiled.

--

For those soccer fans out there: when the bus was rolling through Gyor (which is in Hungary, I noticed a stadium called Eto Park. You might want to look it up and see who plays there.

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