After talking with our Viennese friends, we decide to the remaining few days of our trip on a quick jaunt to a neighboring country. Prague? Greece? Budapest. I donâ€™t know why Iâ€™m so captivated by the thought of visiting this east meets west city straddling the Danube, once the most important hub for trade Actually, theyâ€™re two distinctly different cities â€“ Buda and Pest. It sounds so exotic. When I think of visiting, I imagine myself as the teenaged heroine of a childhood novel I mustâ€™ve read, being sent off for holiday from her boarding school, to the orient to meet her diplomat parents. Iâ€™m wearing a late 19th century dress petticoats and a traveling hat, looking through the window of my train on this strange city. Could it be a past life connection, or am I under a spell? This fantasy, this strange magic magnetism is so compelling that I override my husbandâ€™s desire to go to the Austrian mountains, hike and spa (which sounds like a little slice of heaven after the past few days city living) by continually offering Budapest as a better suggestion. A recommendation from his Viennese colleague reinforces my wish â€“ Budapestâ€™s hustle and bustle is young, alive, not to be missed.
The reality is we missed the boat to Budapest. So we caught the train. I misread the travel site (â€œno reserved seatsâ€ does not mean â€œno advance ticketsâ€) and of the 60+ passengers, 6 of which have no tickets, we are the only two people who do not make it on the boat. And we have a hotel room booked for 2 nts. in Budapest, not Vienna. We find out where the train station is and bags in tow, sit down in an internet cafe, waiting 2 hours for the next train. This is a sign, I think, of unexpected changes to come. And maybe, just like my fantasy, I am supposed to be on the train to Budapest. The boat to Budapest was not meant to be.