You may have got the idea now that this trip is mainly about traveling on trains and eating cake (what, you haven’t? Then you are an idiot). The more I travel on trains, the more I realise that it is the future of convenient travel (well in Europe at any rate. I’m not sure I will agree in a couple of weeks time when I’m back on the Northern Rail “Pacer” train from Burscough Bridge being shaken to death). Take our trip from Vienna to Budapest for example.
We left our apartment at 9:00 and sauntered down the local S Bahn. We got the 9:15 which arrived 10 minutes later at the main line station which we were setting off from. We were (as usual) early, so we went to the lounge, had drink and some cake, and about 5 mins before our train was due, we headed up to catch it.
A few minutes later we boarded, found our seat, popped our cases up above us settled down to enjoy the free wifi. A nice lady came and asked us we would like anything from the restaurant car, so we ordered a tea and coffee which came a few minutes later in china cups. We sat back and relaxed, watched the world go by, blogged, read, chatted (yes Kat Brown, we do actually talk to each other occasionally!). We arrived in Budapest a couple of hours later where we got off the train and were just 15 minutes walk from our next appartment.
Compare that to our trip from Budapest to Milan (by air). We were picked up at 4:30 by the taxi (our flight was at 19:50). As we pulled off the taxi began beeping. This morning Karen asked me if it was because the driver didn’t have his seat belt on. It wasn’t. It was because he had no fuel in his car. From where I was sat I could see the petrol warning light on the dashboard. Normally when I get in a taxi abroad it’s the driving which makes me worried about arriving at my destination. In this case the driving was fine, it was the fuel consumption which worried me.
We arrived (with the fuel gauge blinking) at 5:00 pm. They airport was heaving, but there was no queue for Wizzair (the Hungarian equivalent of EasyJet, who luckily we just happened to be flying with). We approached the pre-check in greeting party that all airlines seem to have these days. We showed our boarding passes (on our phones…with paper copies in my pocket just in case) and were informed that the check in would open in 14 minutes…or was it 40 minutes. Needless to say it was 40 minutes. We checked our bags in at 5:50 (after spending an entertaining 30 minutes watching people having their bags wrapped in cling film. Who ever thought that bonkers idea would catch on!).
We then went through the 3rd ring of Dantes’s inferno which is security. It would have been fine it there wasn’t just one male and one female officer on duty. And when the bloke had a person who set the alarm, boy did he go for the full frisk down. Eventually (about 6:15) we got through security. I really like Budapest airport. It’s new, clean, spacious, has a good selection of shops and eateries. We ate, went to the loo and then were called to the gate. “Ah, the 3rd queue in as many hours” I thought. As I have just said, Budapest airport is lovely, but it’s another matter of you are called to gates A12-A19.
These gates are where the budget at airlines come in. You leave the main terminal building, go down an air bridge (don’t get too excited) to a set of steps. You then walk to a cow shed where you are put in a pen depending on whether you had paid for priority boarding or not (funnily enough flashing our phones got us into priority boarding even though we hadn’t paid for it).
As we walked to the cowshed we could see the weather was worsening and just as we were released from the veal crates to board the plane, the heavens opened. We dashed up the steps and boarded. The flight was uneventful, bar the usual screaming child, turbulence, luke warm cup of tea and overpriced Twix. We landed, 5 hours after our journey started and were reunited with our luggage and headed out of the terminal. Because it was quite late, we had booked into a hotel at the airport before continuing on to Como. We spent the next 35 minutes trying to find the hotel shuttle bus! We were safe and sound in out hotel room by 11:00!
We continued our journey this morning by train. A fabulous train from the airport to Milan, a 5 min walk from platform 1 to platform 8, and then a 30 min jaunt onto Como. The thing is, the journey we had last night was not one of the worst plane journeys I have had. In fact it was one of the better ones! I guess we have just been spoilt the last couple of weeks.