All things considered, it wasn’t so bad.
We arrived to drizzle which was expected. Whisked through passport clearance and customs, thank goodness.
I had mapped out our route to our ‘hotel’ via public bus and our first bus was right at the entrance to the airport. Buying bus tickets was a challenge only because the 1st ticket machine wouldn’t accept payment.
Took the bus to the Metro station where a lack of signage didn’t help but saying the word Metro with an inflection got us directions in hungarian made easy with hand gestures (who needs language when you’ve got hands) from a security person. The ‘station’ was separate from where the bus let us off. It was more like a mall, there was an H&M and a Claire’s. Cristina went to Vodaphone and I went to T-Mobile for SIM cards. Her for her phone and mine for my chromebook. Success and still not very many English speakers to be found, not that I expected to.
Next on the route was one stop to the next metro station where we would transfer to the bus that would take us within walking distance to our ‘hotel’.
Ah, the 950 bus. After 2 trips up 25 flights of stairs, we were told the 950 bus is a night bus and the night bus only starts running at 11:30pm. It was 10am. So back down the stairs we went after being told we should take the Metro 3 to the last stop. Cristina wisely suggested we look at maps and I don’t remember what set me off but I proceeded to laugh hysterically including tears and I must have appeared to be having a fit because we were approached by a young man asking us with concern if we needed help. We explained our situation and he thought the night bus added a 9 and suggested that we might want the 50 tram. Hey, it was as good a suggestion as any so back up stairs we went after looking at the map for the 50 tram’s route but not finding it. At the end, after unsuccessfully trying for an Uber, we got in a taxi to our ‘hotel’.
The Metro/bus situation was funny even though we had to lug our suitcases up flights of stairs in the cold drizzle.
Now is where things really get interesting.
We arrive at our ‘hotel’ which actually looks like an office building. Downtown Apartments shows to be on the second floor and the list of occupants shows to dial 222 on the dial pad. As I’m about to do that, someone is exiting so in we go as I listen for a response from the office. No answer. Cristina calls the number from our reservation, wrong number. I get out my chromebook to call via Google hangouts, wrong number. The plaque outside shows 3 additional numbers, none of which work.
Cristina goes up to the second floor which is actually the 4th floor to knock and returns to the vestibule after receiving no response. We call expedia which due to Hurricane Matthew has longer than usual wait times. After 30 minutes, we get a representative who puts us on hold while she goes to call the ‘hotel’.
While we’re waiting, several people go in and out. It’s noon, so lunchtime. I say excuse me a couple of times to ask if anyone knows anything about Downtown Apartments and either get ignored or annoyingly waved off. Finally a young guy who thankfully speaks English stops on his way out and helps us by calling first the 1st number on the plaque. He gets a response only to say it was a wrong number after a 10 minute conversation.
p.s. when we stopped him to ask about the ‘hotel’ he says, oh yeah, there’s always a problem. WONDERFUL!!
This came after us reading more about our hotel confirmation on our expedia itinerary which said to please call the hotel before arrival to make arrangements which we had not done. Check in starts at 2pm but we figure someone should be at the office at least so we can drop off our bags.
Okay, expedia rep returns on the line and tells Cristina there is staff in the office and that lo and behold we have already been checked in. Oh Yeah? and that happened when and how and after seeing or speaking to whom? There is no one here we tell her. We have spoken to no one.
Cristina suggests I go upstairs to the office with my chromebook as we’re calling from my laptop to check which I do. After ringing and knocking several times to no avail, I say to the rep, no one is there. All I get is silence. It’s now 50 minutes since we’ve been on this call and now I get silence and then the call ends or not really because it dials back expedia so I can only think i’ve been transferred.
I return downstairs. English-speaking guy is gone and we’re on hold again but Cristina said he told her it’s the last number on the plaque that’s the right one. I can’t take anymore of this. I read on our itinerary that the ‘hotel’ has another location so in need of a both respite and to see about the possibility of getting a cab, I step outside.
I spot a taxi idling on the corner but he waves me off, guess he’s break. Another one pulls up behind him but there’s a passenger in the front seat and my attempts to make eye contact fail so I walk back to the office building. Forlornly, I look out the window, feet hurting, annoyed, and see the 2nd taxi drive by and then stop because of the car ahead of him. I rush out, he rolls down the window and I tell him, we need a taxi but have bags. I run back to the door and gesture to Cristina, Let’s Go! She scrambles out, chromebook still open and huge pink suitcase. Driver gets our bags in the car and takes us to this second location not very far away.
We wait for him to drive away so we can get our suitcases out of the street and with me still holding the laptop so as not to lose our turn in the hold queue, amble up to the open front door. We look at the list of occupants of what appears to be another office building but what is in actuality offices on the first floor and residences above and don’t see Downtown Apartments listed. Ah, but what is this, a plaque with their name off to the left detailing that they’re on the ground floor.
Cristina goes off to look and comes back, no success. I go, same deal. We carry our bags inside the hallway to wait for an expedia rep to answer our call while Cristina checks out the neighborhood on google maps. Her attempts to cheer me up with other suggestions are not working. I Hate This Place!!!
It’s now 1:45pm or so. I decide, Fuck Expedia! and hangup and ask Cristina for that third telephone number. I dial it as I would were I in the states and it rings, YES! A guy answers and I explain we need to check in but can find no one. He says he’s going to get an English speaker. I thought we were on hold by nope he’s hung up, so I call back and it’s busy. On a second attempt, I get a call. It’s Downtown Apartments. Yes, we emailed you 3 times yesterday to confirm he says. I respond, we’ve been travelling since the 4th so we haven’t seen emails.
Never mind then, we’re here and want to check in. He tells us the apartment is on the ground floor. Look for a white door with a white gate on the left with a plaque on the door that says Downtown Apartments and gives us the codes. Cristina goes to look but doesn’t find it. So I go. I find the door but the plaque is a damn hologram which you can’t read without special maneuvering. I enter the gate code and it unlocks, step inside, find the door to apartment 2 and enter that code and it unlocks. Hoo fucking ray!
I thank him and tell him see you soon as he’ll be here in a 1/2 hour. Cristina and I unpack and she heads into the shower asking if a nap is possibility to which I respond Yeah cuz I’m tired. Balasz knocks on our room door to welcome us, shows me how to use the electronic key card instead of the codes and collect the city tax of 5 euros for our 8 night stay.
My turn to shower, heaven. Off to bed we go at 4pm. I wake up every so often to noise in the hallway because this is not an apartment. It’s a bunch of rooms in an airbnb apartment.
We wake up around 2am. Cristina scopes out the area on her phone and I begin this post. I’ve been writing for an hour so I’ll end here.
All things considered, Day 1 hasn’t been so bad. Yes, I dwelt in my annoyance for a couple of hours but once we entered a warm room with hot water, the world was a better place again.