August 31, 2008

Hungarian Buses and Trains
Sárospatak, Hungary

We've decided to give Laszlo's father back his workshop bathroom, and move on to our next CouchSurfing destination tomorrow. But what mode of transportation to choose? Bus or train?

Transit information is really top-notch in Hungary. Two Web sites give exceptionally accurate information about the bus and train schedules. It takes a phone call to find out how much the bus costs, but the ticket prices for the trains are conveniently displayed alongside the times.

I wouldn't know for sure how other backpackers are most frequently getting around the county (as I've yet to meet another), but my gut tells me people are using the trains and ignoring the buses.

The cost of a gallon of gasoline in Hungary is somewhere around US$7.50, resulting in bus tickets that cost only about 10% less than the train (many locomotives around here actually run on electricity). But there's more for me to think about here than price alone.

The buses that we've taken in these parts have consistently been scarcely ventilated sweatboxes, whereas the trains in Hungary have had carriage windows that open. Both types of transportation seem to suffer from stop-and-go passenger pickups every few minutes (quite annoying on the train), and the sound of passing trains (in the opposite direction) has a tendency to scare the crap out of Aidric.

Ultimately, I was presented with this scenario for our upcoming four-hour journey to the small town of Balmazújváros: Take the slightly cheaper, significantly more uncomfortable bus that required only a single transfer, or to take the slight more expensive, significantly more comfortable train that required a whopping four trains to transfer between.

Train transfers are stressful enough (with the family in tow) that I'm certainly going to put us on a bus tomorrow. It's not as fun, comfortable, or memorable an experience, but the lack of transfers certainly makes it easier to take the road over the rails.

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