By now we were pro’s at packing up and moving on to the next city, we put our luggage back into the storage room to use our last few hours in Vienna exploring the Belvedere grounds.
It was Harrie who had selected this as our final stop in Vienna and we were happy to go along. Over the last few weeks, we had done more than our fair share of palaces and their grounds and knew a fair bit about the families that used to reside in them, we had developed high expectations and thankfully we’re not disappointed by Belvedere. It was by far one of the most opulent palaces we had ever seen and made perfect sense for the Habsburg’s to choose as their main family home.
While Vienna is full of grand buildings and spectacular architecture I would make sure to add this onto your list of must-sees. We didn’t enter the palace but spent a long time wandering the grounds and examining the art collections.
After collecting our bags, we just had time before our train to grab a quick coffee. I wanted to continue my tradition of trying traditional food from every country so we were on the lookout for a Sachertorte. We decided upon a cafe called Schwarzenberg which was beautiful and traditional however they were not too happy about us arriving with our bags so I would advise to go to this place a bit more classy.
Budapest was going to be our final stop and our shortest train journey so far, only two and a half hours. However when we arrived at the station and saw the train was delayed by an hour and a half it was a little inconvenient but we knew that we could take an alternative route that just involved getting two trains instead of one and took relatively the same time.
This is something you have to be careful about when interrailing as some trains require a booking reservation alongside your interrail ticket or they can be classed as invalid. We knew however that our tickets were valid on both trains.
We had put our bags in the luggage rack and found seats when twenty minutes into the journey the train stopped and everyone got off. A confused looking Spanish lady came over to I assume ask what was happening, but as we were all equally confused we got off the train. It showed no sign of going anywhere and we were in what can only be described as the middle of nowhere, the ‘station’ was nothing more than a shack and was surrounded by fields. Everyone who understood what was happening had formed a queue outside while my German is horrific I managed to get a few words, for some reason the train was now being replaced by a bus for what reason we had no clue why or where to. We were hoping it would just take us to the next station we were meant to go to if only it had been that simple!
When a coach eventually turned up there was only one to fit the entire of the train on to it, so passengers were encouraged to sit on each other’s laps as we stood in the aisle and all managed to crush on. We spend about twenty minutes on this bus not knowing how long we had left.
We finally arrived at a slightly bigger station, at least this one actually had platforms, but were still given very little direction, we were told the train to Budapest was on one side and the train back to Vienna train station on the other. Without any idea how long the train would be for either platform or while all the trains were in sudden chaos, we took the gamble of going forward to Budapest. We were already starving with no cafes open we ended up raiding the vending machine to stock up on snacks going forward.
The train arrived after what felt like an age and we were on it for about half an hour before reaching our next stop, now this really was in the middle of nowhere we were literally up a mountain. We had to clamber across the tracks to reach the correct platform, which is not something I am accustomed to with high-speed trains going past.
By this time we had come to recognise our fellow lost travellers and had befriended an Irish couple who were caught up in the same chaos as us and just trying to get to Budapest.
They had just finished discussing with some Austrians as to our next moves and had the name of the next train station we were to get off at, so we decided to follow their lead.
Getting onto our third train of the day we were on for a little while longer until getting off at our final station which we were thrilled had everything written in Hungarian so at least we were in the right country!
Here we were faced with a dilemma of wait another 40 minutes for a train that our tickets worked on or get on the next one in 5 minutes that required reservations. With my phone already dead and harries almost gone and not too sure where exactly in Austria/Hungary we were, we thought it was a better move to just try and get there as quickly as possible.
Luckily thanks to all the travel disruptions no one came to check our tickets and we spent our final train journey for the first time that day in relative peace and actually managed to get a seat.
We were overjoyed to finally find ourselves in Budapest which lasted about 30 seconds when we realised we were in the wrong Budapest train station. Harrie however was desperate for a toilet and was happy to be in any station, until she actually saw the toilets which were in her words ‘a little shack full of chickens that a man lived in covered in flies.’
We were only about twenty minutes drive from the centre so instead of waiting for another train we parted ways with our Irish friends and decided to get a taxi. Thankfully Harrie had already checked in advance the street of the hotel and surrounding streets so we managed to draw a little map on a piece of paper and show it to the taxi driver as we were having some major language barriers. It actually worked and we only ended up a few streets away from our hotel. Our short journey that was suppose to take maximum three hours had ended up taking seven.
We had finally arrived at our first hotel on our trip as all the hostels were fully booked for Sziget’s festival. The Kings hotel was located down a bit of a dodgy alleyway but the place itself was nice enough for a budget hotel. It just goes to show for anyone apprehensive about staying in hostels often they are superior to cheap hotels. It had a very authentic style but more importantly than anything else it had the first real air con so we were thrilled.
Having only eaten breakfast and cake all day we were well and truly starving which was an issue as it was midnight and everywhere for dinner was already closed. We walked around and saw the glowing lights of Mcdonald’s, while I’m all about embracing the culture and eating at different places, at least the one thing you can count on in any country when you are starving is a cheap happy meal. I guess today we were really experiencing the highs and lows of travelling.