I set out early from my hostel to catch my train south. I came to an intersection, that I’d been to several times before, where you had to cross under the street. I went down the stairs on one side, navigated the square underneath, came back out to the sidewalk, and continued on.
About 15 minutes later I started to wonder why I hadn’t reached the station yet. I couldn’t even see it. I looked up at the street sign.
Hang on, that’s not the street I should be on.
Shit. I got out my map. Turns out, somehow, I’d take the wrong set of stairs up from the underground passageway, which had spit me out onto the wrong street going the wrong direction. This was more frustrating because all I had to do was go STRAIGHT. Gawd.
I trudged back 15 minutes, set myself in the right direction, and by the time I got to the station after an extra half hour of lugging my backpack around Budapest, I was tired. And sweaty.
I got into the station and glanced up at the board with the train destinations. Beside the one that said ‘Pecs’ was the number 10. I took that to mean platform 10, and headed off to find it. It was far. When I got there there was a small two-car red local train, whose sign did not say ‘Pecs’. I asked a Hungarian man standing beside it.
‘Pecs?’ It’s pronouced paich, and I was saying it wrong.
‘Pecs?’ said the man, correctly. He shook his head, waved his hand to indicate I needed to go several tracks over.
I wandered back towards the station entrance, asked someone in a day-glo yellow vest – ‘Pecs?’. I was pronouncing it worse as time went on. This time, the man held up ten fingers, then three.
‘Track 13? Thank you’.
I went to track 13. There was no train there and no destination listed on the sign beside it. I asked someone else. Again.
This time the yellow vest just shrugged his shoulders. I checked my watch; my train was supposed to leave in 10 minutes. I hoofed it all the way back to the station entrance to look at the board again.
It said Pecs, alright, and ’10’ beside it. But as I looked closer, I saw that above the ’10’ it said ‘Minutes delayed’, not ‘Track number’. The track wasn’t even listed yet.
When the track number did come up it did in fact say 13, and I did get on the train, back aching and cursing my impatience. And, eventually, I learned how to say ‘Pecs’.