Monday, March 12, 2007

Fun with the Night Bus

Contrary to what you might think based on Harry Potter, the night bus isn't always a pleasant experience. Seeing as I have no car in Budapest and most places are quite distant at 3 am, the night bus is an essential tool. Sadly it took two or three months to fully utilize the system, and as you will soon see, I haven't grapsed the concept fully. This post I want to dedicate to a) one specific long night of mistakes on the night bus b) the people you see on the night bus c) bad Hungarian conversations on the night bus, and d) early morning taveles via the night bus.

First of all, my bad experience with the night bus dates from about two weeks ago - and I was completely sober. I was just hanging out at a friends apartment until about 12:45, but this is late enough for the trams to cease running. Well i know an easy route home but it involves a little more walking or a shorter way home but with a bus that only comes once an hour. Well i got the once an hour bus, but failed to get off at my stop. I was daydreaming (night dreaming I guess) and figured the bus would drive past my apartment and then i would push the button. It didn't. So after three other failed transfer points, I finally arrived at the end of the line - in the middle of the Soviet/cornfield ghetto of Budapest. Normally I'd be at home in a cornfield, but not at 2 am and in 20 degree weather. So in broken Hungarian I ask the driver when the bus heads back. He said not for another twenty minutes. Well lucky for me I just happened to have the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy with me. I waited my twenty minutes, rode that bus for twenty minutes, got off waited for a half hour, rode another bus for 20 minutes and finally made it home. It took me almost 3 hours when it should have taken just over 30 minutes. Nothing really bad happened though so I can't complain too much - just got a lot of reading done.

The other thing about night buses is that the people on them are bizarre. If you make it on early, say between 12 and 2, you have the standard drunk college kids heading to or coming from a party. But usually you will also see about 10-15 guys per bus asleep. This is their sleeping quarters and it generally is every night. Besides these creepy guys you will randomly have about 5 poeple in really nice clothing that are coming from the office at 2 am? Awfully suspect. Also you will have standard drunkards/beggars that are either making fun of you or asking for money. While the bus can be quite comforting when you are really wanting to get home, it provides an adventure everytime.

The last good story about a night bus is when we were coming home from a club at about 3:30 am. A girl was visiting from Paris, so she didn't really speak Hungarian and wasn't really used to the medlam of the night bus. Just as we got on to the night bus, this crazy Hungarian really wanted to talk to us "Americans." So for about a half hour on the bus, this guy spoke to me in English and I answered him in Hungarian. The guy was quite thrilled to be practicing English and I'm pretty sure I was making up Hungarian words, but we had a nice conversation. He tried to trade me his Lonsdale hat for my Brewers hat, but I wouldn't acquiese.

Finally, the last oddity about the night buses is when we're headed on a day trip to some town in Hungary, but the train leaves so early that we have to catch the night bus to the station. Especially if its a Saturday morning, so here we are catching a 5 am train while there are people getting the night bus home after a night of partying. It makes you feel kind of odd, but also rewarding that you are seeing something a lot of the other stupid students are missing. Guess I'll use that as my reasoning.

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