Thursday, April 15, 2010

Scary Trains and a Rented Swimsuit, Welcome to Hungary.

It's 11:40am on Thursday as I type this. I haven't been to sleep yet. I am having a vanilla latte right now with skim milk which I was very excited about! (skim milk and flavored syrup are a rare find where I've been) I will do my best to write coherent sentences.

Last night I took another scary overnight train ride - this time from Belgrade, Serbia to Budapest. My last scary train ride was from Budapest to Brasov, Romania last week which is when I learned how dangerous night trains are in this part of the world. (I really liked Romania, by the way). Having taken many night trains in western Europe I hadn't thought much of it. My cabin on the midnight train to Romania had three locks - two of which could only be opened from the inside. I was given stern warnings about keeping them all locked because of the bandits and gypsies.

I got in my cabin in grungy Belgrade and to my dismay I only had one door lock. I was told by the cabin steward, " I must say you this. You must lock your door. Put your ladder in front of the door for extra protection. Put your head away from the door by the window so you can see the door. People will try to get in your room while you sleeping. Keep your passport and money on your body. I must say you." I was like, um, what about my lock? Can people still get in? Should I expect someone to come in? Holy crap what am I doing on a night train out of Serbia alone?!?

My weapons and I went undercover. Or rather, under the covers. I laid on my bed with my knife and my LED Defender flashlight in my hands. I made up my fake "throw down wallet" that I'd been advised to have in case I was robbed. I'm historically a quick draw on calling 911 at any perceived danger, so for someone like me this was very unsettling.

From 10:30pm - 2:30am I had a mix of police and border control agents pounding on my door then in my room  wondering why I was in Serbia to begin, that makes two of us. At 2:30ish was the last time border control should have been there - and they always pound before they unlock your door. I got back on my bed and thought I really needed to get some sleep as my train arrives Budapest at 5am. The train is very creaky and squeaky...though as I was dozing in and out I heard a clanking noise on my lock at 3:45am. I opened my eyes to see that my door was cracked open and there seemed to be a person trying to peer in - and since no one had knocked so I knew it wasn't someone authorized to be doing that. I leaped out of bed and reached through the ladder rungs and slammed the door shut. It may very well be my fastest reflex reaction time to date, in my entire life. I heard footsteps and then the door at the end of my train car slam. So much for my weapons - they went flying on the floor as threw my blanket off so I'm glad I didn't need them! I was then too terrified to try to sleep so stayed awake until 5am when we reached Budapest.

Now if that wasn't enough excitement for one day...what on earth do you do in Budapest at 5am? Good question. I dropped my bag off at the hotel my cousin and I would be checking into later today and took the metro to a Hungarian thermal bath that opened at 6am. It wasn't until this morning that I realized I sent my swimsuit home. I did the unthinkable. I rented a swimsuit. I'm not sure there are many things in the world grosser than a rented Hungarian swimsuit that's about 5 sizes too big. I also rented a 'towel' that is actually a sheet. The bath facility felt more like an asylum and was a mix of creepy, disgusting and hilarious.

I signed up for a massage at 7am. The asylum workers made me put on the gargantuan one piece swimsuit and took me into my massage room. Before arriving I had visions of the Four Seasons spa in my head, not the Motel 6 spa. I lie down on the table in the bright light. No sheet covering me, no padding, and my Hungarian male masseuse pulls my swimsuit down to around my waist. As he rubbed my back it occurred to me that he may also plan to rub my front. This was all I could think about, then I began to giggle. I'm exhausted, in Hungary in a rented partially-on swimsuit on a table getting a rub down and growing certain that I'm about to get a massage to remember. It turned out I was partly right, I'll leave it at that. After the massage I got in the indoor thermal pools. Dozens of old geezers in speedos, and me. The men either had gigantic bellies, or looked emaciated. Trimming male nipple hair is not in common practice here. One man even wore whitie tighties and a shower cap. I hope that someday the mental images of what I saw this morning fade away.

I'm one hour away from getting into the hotel room - which means a shower and a nap. My cousin gets here from Dallas this afternoon and I'm so so so excited to see her! I'm sure she'll be very disappointed when I tell her what she missed out on this morning.


  1. OMG! Tears are yet again rolling down my face from laughter! I love these stories. You should write a book. Your spa story sounds very similar an experience I had in Rosarita, Mexico. Asylum-like - check, Male rubbing on my scantilly clad (aka paper undies now wet from literally being hosed down with a green garden hose) body - check, uncomfortable yet giggly - check........

  2. WOW, that train ride sounds wild, but not in a good way. And the massage etc is about to make me fall out of my chair from laughter. Love keeping up with your adventures!!!