We have a returning Fulbright professor who arrived today, Scott Hoffman. He needed a train ticket, so I offered to buy it for him; I would be close to the downtown train office. As I said to him, the chances of getting an English speaker there are far greater than at one of the stations. We have never had a problem with getting our needs met. Famous last words…
Before taking a number, I sat in one of the chairs. Just to err on the side of caution, I hand printed all of the information on my little pad.
May 27 Budapest > Keszthely 10:20 am
June 9 Keszthely > Budapest 12:05 pm
1st class, 1 person
Then I went to take my number. I had three choices.
1. Trains outside of Hungary
2. Trains within Hungary
3. Train information
I had never tried option 2 before today, but have always been impressed with the service for option 1 and 3.
My number was called immediately; the office was near empty other than staff. I presented my pad with the instructions on it. The woman looked at the pad, looked at me like I had handed her a ransom note, then the pad received another glance before she yelled for another woman. An older clerk came over, read my carefully scribed notes. My 2nd grade teacher would have been so very proud of my penmanship. She then mouthed something in my direction. It could have been a mime performance; I could not hear a peep from her. Announcing my hearing loss, she reached over to turn on the microphone. Satisfied I was not going deaf after all, I concentrated on her questions.
What day did I want the ticket for? What day did I want to return? How many people? What class? (Well one higher than what is here for sure.)
Finally, I received the ticket with the instructions that this was an open ticket for 14 days, good for any train. EEEsshhhh…