Budapest to Split

Little did we know that the 750km train ride from the bustling city of Budapest to Split, Croatia would turn out to be THE worst day of our lives. We left Budapest behind sweltering in 40 degree heat. However, we could not foresee it getting any hotter. Well, it did.

When we got to the train station we had filled out our journey on the Interrail pass and we were still early. However, the train was there so we decided to go and find a seat and sit in it. As time passed, drips and drabs of people wandered through the carriages looking for their seats. At this point we had a whole carriage to ourselves; "What a great train ride this is going to be” we thought as we put our feet on the opposite seats and had our bags spread out on the tables. Time passed and as it did, more dribbles of people hurried in. Suddenly, a large, greasy looking man, complete with ginger hair and beard appeared at the carriage entrance. The seats were filled apart from the one adjacent to me, and then the isles were filled and only a single window was open. I didn’t stand a chance! He pushed his way forward, like an Irish prop forward going for the line and squeezed his portly frame into the seat next to me. And that was that, for the rest of the journey Sweaty O’Driscoll was seeping his perspiration juices into my lap.

There were minimal stops between Budapest and Zagreb. One that is imprinted deeply into my memory is the stop at Lake Balaton. Imagine for a second that you had been sat on a train in 45 degree heat (that felt like 100) for 9 hours, all that remained in your water bottle was condensation and you couldn't move because the train carriage was too cramped with perspiring individuals. Imagine that outside, all that could be seen for 77 of the 750 km (approximately 10% of the journey) was Lake Balaton, a freshwater lake surrounded by vineyards and green, rolling hills... I thought it was a mirage. As I was drifting in and out of consciousness, all I wanted to do was jump off that god forsaken train and jump into that lake and drink it... all of it!
And so it was, for the next 18 hours I sat in the same position, with the same facial expression and sweated.

J Whittingham

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