Evening in a pedestrian side of a highway in Budapest. Though I finally found my way to Ferihegy station (here’s how, check this out), I faced the second challenge: where to catch the bus 200E to the airport.
Assuming that the crowds were the answer to my challenge, I followed them walking away from Ferihegy drop-off point (there’s no shelter, seats or anything else, so I don’t feel like calling it a station) to an intersection, side by side with the bushes, where there was another bus halted. That should be it, isn’t it? If so, I didn’t have to speak English with those who don’t speak one. I was (about to be) happy about that.
I lifted my suitcases and stepped in the bus. Then, I showed the ticket I purchased earlier to the driver.
“To the airport?” I asked.
He responded me in Hungarian and pointed the rear window of the bus. Gosh, here we go again. I should have taken Hungarian 101 prior to the trip.
I repeated my question.
It was almost 8 pm. My flight would be at 9.30 pm and until now, I was still standing inside whatever bus that could take me somewhere only God knows. My heart started pounding. I found myself in the limelight among other passengers who watched me with great sympathy (or stupidity), yet somehow language barrier ceased them from helping me.
Finally, the man on the front seat voluntarily replied in stammered English, “You… ehm….. go that side….. for airport.”
He referred that side to rear window. In other words, I had to return to the same area where I got off from the train. Soon after I left the bus, before dragging my suitcases too far, I looked back at the rear window for the last time. It was written 106, or 105 -if not mistaken-, not 200E. How come I missed such an important detail??
Strangers in the darkness were the only group of people I could count on to lead me to the right direction. Thank God one of them understood what airport means. The bus stand for 200E lied on the other side of the highway and the only way to get there was to cross the bridge, if stopping high-speed vehicles to give some space to walk is way too dangerous.
I stared at the pedestrian bridge in front of me for a moment. I mind the city’s incomplete facility for (world) travelers: where’s the elevator? I should have used a backpacker’s backpack, but it was too late.
The only thing I could think of was, “I have to be in the airport right away, I don’t care how!”
So I did what I had not done in my entire life, and would not do it again in a million years. I took 40 steps up carefully in order not to slip off, while trying to balance my body with a 20 kg suitcase in my right hand, another 2 kg left. I bent my elbows a little bit to avoid them from hitting the aluminium stairs. It all worked out and I was immediately on top of the bridge. Wow, I was a gym class hero of the day.
What a (temporary) relief. I could extend the retractable handles again to drag my suitcases with more ease, releasing any tension from my muscles. After a few steps of walking, all of a sudden, eureka! An elevator!! Gosh, you have no idea how much I embraced it as my life saviour. I hurriedly pressed the arrow down button, let myself in the tube taking me down to the bus station.
But, hey! I think I had seen the Ferihegy signboard before, situated not far from my sight. Moreover, I saw the railroad stretched along the pavement where I stood. That’s right, train from Nyugati station dropped me in this place before I chased the wrong bus.
At the same time, a big red bus passed a few meters from another side of a highway. Damn, it was 200E! So the bus stand was next to the third lane of the highway, and I was still on the second lane. My goodness! Hopefully the time-lapse for the next bus wouldn’t last for an hour.
There was nothing else I could think of other than returning to my life saviour to lift me up. Before I knew it, a middle-aged local lady was with me, starting a conversation in a language beyond my comprehension. She did it attentively with her sharp eye gaze, as if she was trying to warn me about an armageddon that would struck in minutes. I nodded, thanking her for something I couldn’t figure out.
Farewell to my one and only dearest elevator. I walked further to find stairs, no elevator available, that directly linked to the bus stop. Same story, another 40 steps down with suitcases in both hands. Fortunately, going down was much easier.
I found the schedule of bus 200E on the announcement board, saying that it would come within 15 minutes. It came on time and the driver nodded to my question whether his bus was going to the airport.
Still in the mood of suspicion, I kept staring at the digital board inside the bus. The text Ferenc Liszt International Airport finally appeared. Aha, so that’s the real name of the airport. I had always thought that Ferihegy is the one.
However, I wasn’t totally wrong in this case. Budapest Ferihegy International Airport was the old name before it changed into Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport in 2011. Ferenc Liszt refers to one of the most notable classical musicians in the country, as well as the world, known as Franz Liszt in English (Hungarian: Liszt Ferenc).
I finally arrived in front of the check-in counter at 8.35 pm, approximately 10 minutes before closing. Since the weight of my checked baggage was still far from its limit, the lady offered me if I would like to put my hand-carry there as well instead of the cabin. Well, I couldn’t agree more. I was more than happy to be empty-handed for several hours before landing in Amsterdam.
I didn’t miss the flight despite all the difficulties I experienced. Praise the Lord!