Netherlands to Hungary and why pot doesnt make for friendlier people
I had a good rest and wake up at about 6:30am. I dont feel like packing my bags, so browse the Internet and when 7am comes around I move down to the lobby part to have some breakfast and coffee. I stick around for awhile and sort out pictures and read a bit about Budapest – taking it easy I guess.
Back in the room I rest for a bit and then there is no avoiding it, I start to ready my luggage.
Since I paid the first day, check out is just me giving back my key and I asked the dude to carry my big bag up the stairs to the street level, I dont think he was going to offer otherwise. The whole trip I have been helped once and it was a lady on the train up the few stairs. I think it was because she was in a hurry and I was in the way. So if you are planning on traveling pregnant, dont expect any assistance unless you ask for it. Thankfully I am still quite capable of doing it all myself, but still…
The weather is crappy again. I just hope it doesnt rain before I reach the station. It holds up.
I buy a ticket from the machine and since the signage is useless I ask at the Information counter which platform the train leaves from.
Make my way there and there is a train waiting already. Yupeee!
I was a bit worried that this was not the right train, after seeing a lot of people on the platform with big bags and suitcases as we were leaving, but a local girl assured me that it will get to the Airport.
It did, thank goodness.
The place is a bit of a chaos. Maybe I was spoiled with Tokyo, but even being much bigger, the place was so much easier to navigate. Here things just dont make sense and you need to look for gazillion boards and directions to find actually where you need to go. I spot an information place and just ask them.
Make my way to the check in counters, which look absolutely stuffed with people. Its a jungle out here. I think this is where they handle all the small airlines or something, as the place is a bit out of the way. There are lines and lines of people.
I finally find my way to a queue on the check in counters that says Malev and wait. These are the longest check ins I have ever witnessed. I am very curious what exactly do they do.
My turn! Lift my bag up to the belt and give my documents.
“But you havent checked in” – says the girl behind the counter.
Uhh, I thought thats what I am doing.
“Isnt this the right place?” I ask.
She says that I am supposed to check in at one of the automated machines and then go to the counter. I am very confused as I always thought those are for people with electronic tickets. I ask if that is the case with all European airports, she grins and says
“No, I think its just here”
“Some signs will be nice then” – I say as I start to collect my things.
“There are, they say “Dropping off here””
Yes, that makes things much clearer…
Off through the crowds of people to the damn machines. The are located after a maze of swerving line guides – you know those that you need to go left, right, left, right until you get to the short straight line spot you are after. I think they help in leading people through a long queue. The thing is there was no queue, only 2-3 people waiting.
I do my check in on the machine and now the only way out of this area is fighting all the queues waiting for the counters or through the zig zag maze I just went through ( and I think that you are probably not supposed to get back that way either). I am getting frustrated and just pull one of the elastic dividers and pop out of there. I was not going through the crowds if at all possible.
Back to the check in girl, although since she doesnt check in, I dont know what they are called now. She calls me back through. Up goes my luggage. She shuffles through my ticket, looks something, does something else. I am really having enough of all this, just want to get out of this place. She smiles and says:
“You have 24kg of baggage”
“Yes?! I have had that since I left Australia”
“Well, you are only allowed 20kg…
“I have had 2 flights already and bought only 3 tops on the way. Not one airline has mentioned anything”
“What do you want to do – put some things in your hand luggage, you are allowed 12.5kg or pay?”
“What is the difference for the plane if my weight is in my hand luggage or in the cargo?”
My blood is starting to boil, I despise her fake smile and look as though she is being very helpful.
“Those are the regulations”
“How much will I have to pay?”
No way I am paying you any more, you stinky horrible people.
I grab my bags and slide them just few feet off that counter where there is a counter for people like me to weigh in their luggage. I open my luggage and there are all these people around. What, am I supposed to pull my things apart in front of everyone?!?! I am sure I said a few swear words at this point.
I pull my big lens and put it on the counter. Then quickly grab my two bags with shampoo and containers that I know will weigh in enough. They do. Just with the three things I have 3.5kg
Some dudes are enjoying watching me furiously sorting my stuff. (*&%(*$&!
Lock up, and now drag myself back to the counter. I cant even look at her face or I may smash it with my shampoo bag. She ‘kindly’ lets me know that the extra 0.5kg is fine. Oh, no freaking kidding!
Hands me back my documents and tries to explain with a smile where is the gate and whatnot. I just grab my stuff – backpack, print tube, big lens, two big cosmetics bags and whoosh out of there. I am furious. I walk fast to be done with this and breathe deep in an attempt to relax myself.
Then I see the security pass area and it dawns on me – I cannot take my shampoos and body moisturisers with me through them, there are the freaking restrictions because of the (*$&%(*&%$(*&%$ War on Terror! and the whole paranoia around it *&%^(*&%^* I realize that I wont be able to take at least half of my stuff with me. Normally I wouldnt care any, its just shampoo for goodness sake, but those are things I seek out carefully and meticulously so they are natural and without all the horrible chemicals that are in normal supplies. They are not easily available. They are important to me…
I stay in my tracks and feel like I will explode at this point. I spot an enclosed little area to the side with seats in it and head that way. Throw my stuff on the chair and lost it. The tears started flowing and I just collapsed on the chair. I can deal with unfortunate things that happen, I can sort problems very well, but when its man made things that cause issues it just gets to me. Plus I later remembered I am pregnant and my hormones probably didnt help in the matter.
I am determined to save as much of my precious stuff as I can. I whip my bags and start mixing stuff in my small bottles – you are not allowed to bring stuff in bigger than 100ml containers and it has to all fit in a one litre clear bag. I had creams and cleansers and whatnot out, mixing and sorting them out as best as I can to save my most important things.
My shampoo, big body moisturizer, razors and other things had to go, but I fit the rest in somehow. Boy, that clear bag was bursting in the seams.
Security – whip everything out onto the trays – laptop, cosmetics bags, crap…he even put my passport on a tray which I was not happy about.
Through the scan. Go back and put your shoes on a tray. Of course, why not.
Then put everything back together on the other end. Not an easy task.
I am through, just get me out of here.
Spot a Starbucks and grab the most expensive coffee and muffin and sit on a chair to gather my composure.
Really, Dutch people, for a group that gets as much pot as they wish and have such relaxed sexual attitudes are not the happiest around. I found them grumpy and short mostly. My last experience with them only cemented my opinion. I guess I expected something similar to Australian people – easy going and friendly.
Or it could be the unbearable drunk English dudes that have jarred them up their backs ;)
The flight is late, the seats are extra uncomfortable, we get a “Cheese OR Ham” sandwich and the flight is bumpy. Our bags arrive on the belt from Thessaloníki at the other end.
The rest was smooth. The airport shuttle was easy to organize and there was no passport control.
I chat with an expat hungarian on the shuttle, who lives in Amsterdam now. Bad English, but we manage.
Find my way to the apartment and the place is wonderful. A palace compared to my last accommodations. The people that run the place recommend me a place for dinner.
I put something lighter on as its warm here and after updating the family with my arrival, I go in search of the place. No camera, sorry, I just wanted to be light and mobile.
This place reminds me so much of Bulgaria in so many ways. But its cleaner and more preserved somehow. The restaurant is very easy to find and looks lovely. They have a website Old Amsterdam
The atmosphere is wonderful and the waiter is friendly and welcoming. I sit on a table next to the window, there is a picture of the place on the website actually.
Feels so good. The menu is very promising. I order a small glass of Hungarian beer, goulash and stuffed peppers with boiled potatoes – all local meals.
The goulash is so good to this soul, just as soup should be and brings back memories of my childhood. Yum!
The stuffed peppers come and they have a red sauce with them. Not quite tomato tasting, more like paprika and peppers and its smooth and bright orangy red color. The stuffing is pork or pork and chicken and doenst have rice or not much. The sauce was a bit sweet for my taste, but I devoured the plate with no problem. Very satisfying home style meal. My heart was singing.
I even ordered chocolate mousse for desert and coffee. Both fantastic. The whole thing with a generous tip cost less than $20! Eat your heart out Amsterdam ;)
I was full and happy now. So I decide to have a quick walk to the Danube, which is just few blocks from where I am. Boy! My breath is taken by the view. My hands were itching for my camera.
The lights, the water, the hills with the palaces on them, the bridges, all lit beautifully. What a sight. I will love Budapest, I have a feeling.
Dangled my feet over the Danube and made my way back, buying some soap on the way.
It was a wonderful end to a crappy day.
Budapest, please be good to me.