A couple days earlier, I decided that Budapest would be my next stop. My brother had only good things to say about it, and I figured I should see some of Eastern Europe before hitting the mandatory stops of Paris, Amsterdam and then London. A train there would cost upwards of $195, but a bus was only around $100, and it took the around the same amount of time. The bus left at 11:00 PM and arrived in Budapest at 9 AM.
That morning another friend of Mike’s named Milan showed up from NYC. His flight out was on Monday morning; he had only one thing on his mind: Oktoberfest. Mike and Ann headed to the Weis’n with him while Bonesaw, my brother and I stayed back. I walked around the neighbourhood for about 45 minutes, trying to find a place where I could print out my bus ticket. After achieving success, we walked all the way down to the festival grounds and met up with the others. It’s amazing how annoying those crowds of drunk people are when you’re not participating. It was awful and I vowed never to return … for at least 1 year.
We went back home and Milan took a nap while we just hung out. I researched hostels and thing to do in Budapest and contemplated the next destination. In the evening, we went out for dinner and I took my bags with me. I said my goodbyes and left while the others were still eating. It was 10 o’clock and I had an hour to get to the Hauptbahnhopf, the central train and bus station in Munich.
I got there with time to spare, around 10:20 and after some difficulty, I at least found the area from which international trains left. I couldn’t figure out where the bus terminal was, so I finally found a station ticket agent and asked him. He scratched his head when I said I was headed to Budapest. “Well the buses to places like France and Italy leave from over there, but destinations like Hungary don’t really leave from this station.” Uh oh. “They depart from the international bus station in Frottmanning.”
He pointed it out on the network map. From where we had dinner, it was about 8 or 9 stops away. In the opposite direction. He estimated it would take me 20 minutes to get there. It was 10:30 and I was running out of time.
I raced back down to the trains and frantically got on one heading back the way I came. With each stop I looked at my watch, calculated the time since the last stop and tried to estimate when I would reach Frottmanning. When I finally arrived, I pounded my legs towards the bus terminal, praying that I wasn’t too late. A monitor told me the bus to Budapest would leave from platform 4, so I hurried downstairs. There was no bus parked there. My heart sank.
There were however a few guys standing around with bags. I quickly asked one if he was waiting for the bus to Budapest. To my immense relief, he said yes. It was 11:00, and as I had hoped, the bus was behind schedule.
It finally arrived about 10 minutes later and a rather gruff bus driver checked our tickets and tossed our bags underneath the bus. We boarded and I finally sank back into my seat and let my pulse wind down to a blistering speed.
As the bus pulled away from the station I started wondering what kind of characters ride the overnight bus to Budapest. Then I started thinking about how I didn’t want to find out.