Long time no talk,
So where do I even begin? Since my last update I have visited Amsterdam and Budapest. Two very different places to say the least.
Since I just returned from Budapest and it’s fresh in my brain, let’s talk about my issues with public transportation.
Let it be known that all across Europe public transportation is fantastic (for the most part). Each country has it’s own quirks to the system, but for the most part it’s all very similar.
My first public transportation fail occurred when I was traveling back from Paris via train. Of course our tickets had checked out fine with the conductor on the way to Paris, but my friends and I ran into a bit of an issue on the way back. The conductor asked for our tickets, (ok easy–here ya go!) Then he proceeded to ask for our Carte Jeune (the pass you can purchase for 50 euros if you’re under 25 that makes all train tickets cheaper). I looked at him confused and said, I can show you my receipt that I have for purchasing the Carte Jeune. After I took time to find the email he informed me that the email would not due I needed a physical copy of it. My frustration level started rising as I informed him that we did not have this issue on our way to Paris when we showed the previous conductor our tickets, why are we having this issue now? He told me he didn’t know, but he would have to charge me to full price for the ticket I had purchased and needed to see my passport. I asked him how much it would be (120 euros). As he sensed more and more of my frustration (I’m not one to back down from a challenge) he did inform me that if I just went to the train station and showed them proof of my Carte Jeune I could get a complete refund. Ohhh, well why didn’t you tell me this about 15 minutes ago before I started getting mad?!
If we’re being honest, I think my obvious frustration came in handy. As I later learned the same thing happened to my friend that was in a different car of the train, and the conductor didn’t tell him any of this information. As a travel hungry and flat out hungry student on a budget you bet I marched right up to the train station the next day and got a full refund and now have a physical copy of my Carte Jeune– crisis averted 🙂
Before Budapest all other public transportation issues had been avoided, although looking back on it we should have definitely validated our train tickets in Amsterdam, but we didn’t really know what all the beeping was about, and it sure didn’t seem to accomplish anything as it didn’t stamp the ticket.
Below: In Amsterdam I went to a small windmill village about 45 minutes outside of Amsterdam. This was by far my favorite part. It snowed pretty hard on this particular day. And was absolutely freezing the whole time.
After I finally made it to Budapest after a grueling 7 hour (yep SEVEN) layover in the Brussel’s airport (I’m convinced I must have just seen the price and booked the trip without looking at anything else) I went up to Castle Hill with my friends in Buda (yes, one side is Buda and the other is Pest. When someone first told me this I thought they were joking). We made it there without any complications (typical), we bought a ticket and sat down with validating it (oops). On our way back we got on the train with the same ticket and didn’t validate it (oops). After a few stops I saw this man get on the bus and didn’t think anything of it, until he started asking my friend a question and I asked what was going on (I should have just minded my own business because that’s when he asked for my ticket). Starring at our tickets he informed us that we didn’t validate them, and pointed to a tiny little sign above us that read: Please validate your ticket. I’m sorry that we didn’t see that TINY sign, and when we got on the bus the first time the bus driver didn’t say anything to us after we bought our ticket. In Budapest they open all the doors of the bus to allow people on. In France they only open the one by the bus driver so that he can make sure you do everything correctly.
After telling the man we were sorry and that we had no clue, he said it’s okay but you’re going to have to get off at the next stop with me (Ugh, great!!) So we did just that and he gave us a lecture, I told him we were sorry and we would have absolutely no issue with paying the small amount of money for the ticket, he said yes but you have to pay a fee (NO not again!!!). We ended up paying the equivalent of about $22 per person and he even let one of my friends off the hook, so after splitting it, it was even less.
Although we did not get a refund this time, we looked at the stop we were at and realized we had stopped at the Chain Bridge (pictures below). Had we not been fined we probably would have never thought to stop at the Chain Bridge (we also did NOT want to get back on the bus with that scary, mean man and his sidekick who never spoke).
I would also like to point out that once we got back on the bus we noticed they had gotten an older couple that had done the same. It’s a little frustrating how much money they probably make off of tourists who have no idea what they’re doing, and are just trying to get off at the right stop.
Overall, I would definitely recommend Budapest. Remember to be careful of the different ways of public transportation in each of the European countries. Although it is usually easy to navigate, it’s also easy to get fined.
That’s all for now– Off to Berlin and Cologne on Wednesday to visit a family friend!
Below: Thermal baths in Budapest