I stood outside at 22h 40 (I know, very European of me), backpack strapped tight to me, messenger bag slung across my front and purse on my arm.
It was time to depart Cluj and head to Krakow. Via bus. Back to Budapest.
When Arpad first told me I had to take a bus to Budapest in order to get to Krakow, I immediately tried for other options.
“Why don’t you want to stop in Budapest?” he had asked.
Aside from backtracking, Budapest and I were still at odds. Only a little, but still. I would have rather trekked from Ukraine like I had originally planned.
But, bus to Budapest it was.
So, there I stood, in the dark outside of a hotel, looking for the bus that would whisk me back to Hungary and then on to Krakow via an Orange Ways bus at 6 a.m.
I was actually a bit bewildered.
I didn’t see a bus. Anywhere.
“Miss, miss,” called the cab driver who had dropped me at the lot. “Here, follow me.”
I picked up step behind him as he walked me away from where I was standing and towards a tiny cluster of people smoking outside of an overgrown white minivan.
“Here,” he said, gesturing for me to stop at the van.
Right. This isn’t a bus.
“Hi,” I said to a man standing at the van door, who seemed to be the driver. “Budapest?”
“Yes, yes,” he said, motioning me to follow him to the back of the van. “Luggage?”
I took off my backpack and placed it on the ground.
Where was it going to go? The van wasn’t like a bus that has the storage underneath.
Then, I saw it. The U-Haul-esque attachment to the van, hooked at the back. My luggage was going to go in there.
“Thanks,” I said, handing him my backpack and keeping my other two bags as pillows. I got in the van and grabbed a seat, trying to fathom the next five hours of driving to get back to Hungary.
Once we departed, I noticed there were only six or so people riding, so I took over two seats, trying to balance myself on the cushions that seemed a few inches too short, and trying to keep the arm of the seat out of my back.
I slept on and off as we drove through the still of the Romanian night, waking up when I got too hot, when we stopped and at the border.
When we arrived in Hungary at 4:30 a.m., I was glad. Only seven or so more hours of driving until I could get to a bed and catch some real sleep.
The bus to Krakow from Budapest was nothing like the van ride.
Orange Ways is a machine. They pipe in movies. They have wifi (although it wasn’t working on my trip). They even have coffee and hot chocolate. And, they have packed busses. Packed.
I sat in the second to last row of the bus on the aisle, ready to pass out. I could feel the exhaustion seeping into my body, my head growing heavy, my eyes fighting to stay open.
And, that’s when three drunk-from-the-night-before Brits walked onto the bus, past my seat and sat behind me. Smelling like a bar and lots of liquor. Ready to party.
I heard beer cans crack open and ignored it.
I listened as they talked on and on about partying and then put my headphones on to drown them out.
Then, they decided they want to have a party on the bus. So, they opeedn up their laptop and put on some techno for everyone to listen to. At 6 in the morning.
Now, I’m a pretty chill person. There are very few times I will ever ask anyone to stop doing something. Those times are:
- Having sex in a dorm room. C’mon on. I don’t need to hear/see it.
- Talking loudly in a dorm room in the middle of the night when everyone else is sleeping. It takes two moments to go outside.
- Playing loud and crappy techno at 6 a.m. on a bus with a captive audience.
When I could hear the thwackthwackthwack above my music, it was time to turn around. Luckily, they were cool about it and turned it off.
About 30 minutes later, they were all passed out.
And, six hours later, I was walking through the streets of Krakow.