Michelle and Charlie's Around the World Trip 2004-2005 travel blog

One of the biggest draw to Tokaj is the good wine

 

 

Vineyards around our room

Out on the river

A stop on the canoe trip

Michelle on the river

stork is thinking: did I drop that baby at the right house???


Probably the last side trip in Hungary brought us to one of the most famous wine regions east of France. It meant taking one of the last longer train trips we'll have for a while (about 3 hours). I think I jinxed myself because as we neared the stop for Tokaj and was thinking that it had been the most pleasant train experience yet - comfortable, plush seats, pleasant temperature, and very few people. At each stop the train only pauses for a minute or two to let people off and on, so you have be ready at the door before the stop, which we were. As the train stopped Charlie hit the open button...no response. The train came to a full stop and he tried the door again - nothing. Since the train was almost empty we were the only people trying to get off or on from this car and there was not a conductor in sight. We had encountered this problem before and I thought the only chance to get off was to run to the other end of the car and try the other door, which I did, thinking Charlie would be behind me. By the time I got to the other door I realized he hadn't followed me. I hit the open button and the door opened, but the train started to roll. I stuck my head out the door to see if he had managed to get out of the other door and didn't see him on the platform so I wasn't sure what had happened. I tried to decide if I should get off or see if he was still stuck, but by then the train was already moving. So I closed the door and went back to other car - sure enough, Charlie was no where to be found. He had apparently managed to get off from the opposite door (the one that instead of opening to the platform side, opened onto train tracks, so I'm not sure I would have gotten off there anyway). Oh, crap, I thought as the train sped off to the next stop, this really sucks, especially since this is a special train that doesn't make local stops so the next one is bound to be pretty far away. I thought I would just have to get off at the next stop and buy a ticket in the opposite direction and just hope Charlie wasn't trying to get a ticket to try to find me. Then I realized that in addition to our bag with all our stuff, I had also given Charlie my wallet to hold for me. Oh ------ , I thought then, when I realized it would be pretty difficult to buy a ticket back to Tokaj with no money and the only Hungarian words I know are for the various foods I've come to enjoy. I went on a frantic search for the conductor - but after walking from the very front to the very back of the train, I determined that after collecting the tickets he vanished into thin air. Not exactly like flying the friendly skies. So I took a seat next to the door (the one that worked) and kept wishing the train would stop, at one point getting nervous that it would cross the border before it stopped. Over 20 minutes later it stopped and I ran off to try to figure out when was the next train to Tokaj. I tried to explain my predicament to someone working in the train station, but she didn't speak English so all she understood was Tokaj and Budapest, which just confused the issue, so I finally found out the next train to Tokaj was in a half hour so I got on board, hoping I may be able to hide from the conductor somehow. No such luck. The conductor came by shortly after the train started moving. I smiled and asked if she spoke English...No... I tried to explain my story to her, anyway. The only phrase she understood was that I didn't have any money or a ticket. She was very nice, though, even sitting down next to me and trying to draw out what I was saying - Budapest - Tokaj, then I would pantomime the doors not opening and my husband jumping out at the last minute with all my belongings and money. Finally I think we agreed I would pay in Tokaj, which I think was just a nice way of her letting me go without a ticket. Now my only concern was that Charlie would have gone to try to collect me when he realized I had no money to buy a ticket. I was so relieved to see him at the station waving at the train that when it stopped (I had already tested the door) I ran and jumped into his arms. I'm sure we looked like we had been reunited after months apart. He had apparently organized a search team for me and they had been going around the train and the next station with my description. The woman working at the Tokaj station was very nice and was happy to see that I had made it back.

(I HEARD SOMETHING HISSING ON THE TRAIN AND FIGURED THAT THERE GOT TO BE A DOOR THAT IS WILLING TO GIVE. BY THE TIME I FIGURED OUT WHICH ONE IT WAS MICHELLE WENT ON TO ANOTHER ONE. AS I JUMPED OFF I YELLED, TO CHECK ON HER, BUT THE TRAIN STARTED TO MOVE. IHOPED THAT SHE WOULD BE ON THE OTHER SIDE AND YOU CAN GUESS WHAT WAS I THINKING ABOUT THE SOB RAILWAYS COMPANY WHO KIDNAPPED MY WIFE. AS BAD AS THEIR HARDWARE IS, THEIR PEOPLE ARE THE OPPOSITE. THE LADY AT THE STATION WAS FILLING 5 JOBS PARALLEL, YET FOUND TIME TO SEND MESSAGES LEFT AND RIGHT AND SET UP A SEACH PARTY THAT WOULD LOOK FOR HER WHERE WE WERE ORIGINALLY SITTING ON THE TRAIN. LITTLE DID THEY KNOW THAT MICHELLE IS A FAST ONE.... SO ALL I HAD WAS THAT SHE IS MIA, WHICH MADE ME THINK THAT SHE MIGHT ALREADY BE ON HER WAY BACK AND I DID NOT GET ON THE NEXT TRAIN FOLLOWING HER. YAYYY MICHELLE!!!! CHARLIE)

OK, so happily reunited we found a nice private room on the edge of the town and found a wine cellar to do some tasting. The wine was, of course, very good and that was even confirmed by a French couple who were also doing the wine tasting with us and worked in the wine industry in Bordeaux (they had all the professional wine tasting moves and sounds down, including pouring out some of the wine, which is something we definitely did not do). The region also has two big rivers running through it and for dinner we had some very tasty, local fish.

The next day was perfectly clear and crisp and we rented a canoe to take out onto the river. Charlie had done longer canoe trips in the area before, and as he promised, after paddling for a few minutes away from the town you couldn't see any signs of civilization or other people. We paddled into some smaller inlets and saw lots of huge birds like herons and storks and some other unidentified ones. We later went back to the main river and occassionally saw other people canoeing or on the shores fishing and camping. We stopped to swim a couple of times which was nice, although the second you got out of the water you would be descended upon by swarms of mosquitoes. One of these times after I had dried off and gotten dressed, I managed to fall back into the water while I was trying to get back into the canoe. I resurfaced only to see Charlie on the shore not even trying to control his laughter. He made a poor attempt between giggles of asking if I was ok. Once I got back into the boat and cleared the sensation of water going up my nose I was fine and had to laugh at his description of how funny it was to witness. (yepp, it was a classic as she stepped in on one side and went into the water on the other. It was deep water, so I figured that as long as none of those tasty fish thought the same about her, its all good. To make her feel better I gave higher point for her dive than we saw on the olympics two days earlier charlie) Anyway, after a long day of canoeing my arms were sore and I was looking forward to more wine tasting and local food, both of which were again very good. Tokaj is definitely a destination I would recommend to anyone who ever ends up in this area.



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