As I noted in some earlier post, I have indeed also exited the borders of Berlin during this Spring ( and not only by falling asleep on a train and ending up in a neighboring city!)
I had the choice of booking flights to see reindeer and snow up north in Lapland, for the first of May, however my budget disagreed with those plans like a football(soccer for ya Yanks) player would disagree with a ref after receiving a red card. Nevertheless I was determined to go somewhere outside of the big B. A couple of my Slovenian friends had tried for a couple of months to get me to join them for a bit of R & R for 5 days in Budapest, Hungary. I proposed the trip to my Irish mate, Daragh, and sure enough he was in! On one condition though….. that we go by bus.
For those who don’t know, a bus trip to Budapest (via Prague) takes around 10-12 hrs, so needless to say we had planned that we would enjoy a few drinks on the way and watch the movies that were promised to shown on the webpage of the bus company. As the day of the trip dawned upon us, we headed to the western part of Berlin to catch our banana yellow bus, anxiously waiting to get on and continue our sleep, which was rudely interrupted by the early (7 AM, yes not that early for most people) wake-up. Although the bus seemed to be nice, I couldn’t have help of thinking that we were crossing a border to the unknown, having to even flash our passports at the door. The only reason that I could make up for them to check my passport, was to confirm that the young dorky looking kid on my drivers licence was in fact me. As I sat down it didn’t take long for me to visit the sandman once again and I was knocked out for at least a straight hour immediately.
Our first leg of the journey was from Berlin to Prague. During this 4 hrs was shown a lot of promising looking, English language films, which we now and again glanced at in between sleeping and trying to find a “comfortable” position on the upright positioned seats. After 4 hrs of bumpy roads and some well earned extra time sleeping, we arrived in Prague, where we were due to switch to a coach that would bring us to Budapest. We had 1,5hrs to spend in Prague, which was enough to get an understanding of some of the streets and find an establishment to serve our ever growing hunger and thirst.
Dwelling on the streets looking for food and trying to solve the mystery of the “unknown currency” and it’s rate, I decided it was a good time to try and take a couple of pictures as well. Aside from maybe the fact of forgetting my camera battery at home (which happens surprisingly often) the second most annoying thing to notice when turning on the camera is the ” No Memory Card” text flashing on the screen, as if the camera itself was trying to “rub it in your face” even more that you had in fact forgotten one of the most integral parts of your appliance at home. Having forgotten my card at home, we headed with my friend from the home of Guinness to a local electronics store and simply bought a card, which would play home for the pictures to be taken on this euro trip of ours. Having now solved the case of the missing memory card, there was still two cases left unsolved: A: What the heck is the currency here(sorry I know I should know this) and how does it translate to our struggling European currency and B: Where do we find food?
Currency exchange shops were by the dozens, being a touristic area where we were. We randomly selected one and entered the shop, unknowingly interrupting the clerk’s “movie moment”, as he had to serve us. After a moment of struggling with languages, we exited the shop with a bunch of money that were rather new to both of us: Czech Korunas and Hungarian Florents. Having completed this seemingly easy task it was now time for us to feast somewhere. We ended up finding a rather nice place with a good bargain deal of a good meal and beverage for roughly €5. Having now lived in Germany for nearly a year, I’ve come accustomed to ordering stuff in the local language, however as neither Daragh or me knew a word of Czech, I had to result to the typical tourist phrase ” ummm… do you speak English?” Judging by the reaction received from the waitress, I felt I had almost offended the young girl, having assumed apparently that it was not a norm that people spoke the language that has almost become the lingua franca of the world. At this point I have to complement the Czechs that they are really good at speaking the language. In every shop, restaurant we went, people spoke English. Perhaps this is because the area was, as mentioned, mainly occupied with tourist, but I’d like to think the average level of English is rather good in the Czech Republic.
Now that our stomachs we’rent waging war on us anymore, we had just enough time to pop by a local “kwik-e-mart” and grab some snacks and beverages to enjoy with the movies, which looked promising earlier. We climbed on-board the coach and were greeted by the well functioning air-conditioning, which was more than welcome, seeing that it was +30 and rising outside.
As we sat down everything seemed to be good and going according to plan….for a short moment. Sure enough, as we drove out of the bus terminals, the hostess on-board foiled our plans of enjoying a couple of “brewskies” by announcing that own drinks weren’t allowed, or at least that was what I could make out of the announcement, which had a lengthy calm paced Czech (??) part and a very concise English part, which seemed to have been spoken in fastforward mode, just for the sake of confusing all the non-Czech speaking passengers on-board. Luckily we had packed a bottle of water with us, so that we didn’t have to suffer from thirst. As often with things in life, mishaps have a tendency to come in bundles. The blinking screens in front of us soon started to play a movie, I say a movie because I could not possibly have the slightest clue what this, apparently legendary Czech, film was called. Nor did we even had such luck that we would have some subtitles to explain why the boy ran through the forests for hours in this production of probably the late 70’s. As the only option started to seem to be sleep, we tried our luck at it. Needless to say also the option of sleeping was taken away, being kept awake by, what I can only assume was a heated discussion by our neighbors over who is the loudest on the bus, I came to terms with the fact that this was going to be a long ride to Budapest…
To Be Continued. Oh, and the next post(s) will have more pictures as well.