TAILS OF A TRAVELLING CAT
Day 8 - Budapest to Sofia
Greetings, humans! Well, here we are in another city! I am currently ensconced in our final (!) AirBnb where I am admiring myself in the mirror. So, we left our Budapest AirBnb on the sometime-past 9:00 Metro from Lehel Tér, a two minute walk away from our AirBnb, pretty good going when you have giant hiking bags to contend with. We took the Metro three stops to the other side of the city, just 82p, and stopped at a souvenir shop where the humans’ fancy card got declined for reasons unknown. We tried again in another shop and the same thing happened. Eventually, we got the card to work, paid for our souvenirs and headed for our bus, the 10:20 100E from Deák Ferenc Tér. It was a bendy bus and we were crammed into the end (there were a lot of people wanting to go to Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport, Terminal 2). After spending much longer than I would have liked squished in the bus, we escaped and entered Terminal 2a because no one had bothered to check their tickets and see which terminal we were actually meant to be at and the bus stopped nearer to this one. After not seeing our flight on the departures board, we decided we must be in the wrong terminal and Jack finally decided to check our tickets. 2b – that’s where we should be. Good thing Terminals 2a and b are right next to each other, so in a few minutes we were at the right terminal, had found our flight on the departures board and were queueing for check in.
During this natural interlude, I will take a moment to explain why we are getting a plane when we should be Interrailing. Charlie and Jack’s original plan was to get a night train from Budapest to Bucharest (Romania) and tomorrow get a night train from Bucharest to Sofia. However, although when we booked our flights to Warsaw and back from Sofia, there was a night train from Bucharest to Sofia, by the time we got round to making train reservations, this train had disappeared. Not being able to get from Bucharest to Sofia and no other handy routes presenting themselves, such as Budapest to Belgrade to Sofia, we conceded the only thing left to do was fly from Budapest to Sofia.
Well, now you’re caught up, I will draw a veil over security and our wait for the gate, but as soon as the gate was called, we trotted through the airport (only thirty-eight gates in total), through boarding and straight onto the plane. Or so we thought. We were actually shepherded onto a bus which got quite hot and very cramped. We were on this bus for an inordinately long time before it took us across some tarmac to the plane. The distance was so short even I could have walked it. Well, maybe not, but it would have been no trouble for the humans. We were at the plane, the wheely ladder things were in position, but were we released from what was now becoming a rather stuffy metal and glass prison?
No. For what felt to me like at least five hours (but was probably no more than five minutes), we were trapped, slowly baking in the big bus. Eventually (at this point in the writing up process, a Chesh attack occurred and I leapt on Charlie’s pen causing it to skid across the page), we were freed and stormed the plane (in my head anyway) and were finally allowed to sit down. As we’d booked this flight too late, we weren’t seated together, so we slept our way through the one hour ten minute flight, which landed right on time at 4 o’clock, Sofia is one hour ahead. The plane had landed at Terminal 1, where the Metro which would take us to our AirBnb wasn’t. A random taxi driver tried to get us to take a fare. We didn’t and ended up on the free shuttle to Terminal 2 from where we boarded the Metro to Serdika, our AirBnb was just five minutes away.
We checked into the AirBnb with the galaxy ceiling and a reception – we’ve never had an AirBnb with a reception before! Our next stop was to the station to make reservations for our planned trip to Dimitrovgrad – we are going to Serbia tomorrow! At the station, we learnt we actually didn’t need reservations, our Interrail passes would suffice.
With that done, we wandered the streets to dinner, and met many street cats on the way which made me both very happy (cats are amazing and this holiday had severely lacked them so far) and very sad (they were very skinny and clearly unloved by many people).
For once, we had found an all vegan restaurant just a minute’s walk from our AirBnb. This was Edgy Veggy where my humans tucked into a starter called the Mediterranean – hummus, tomato and cucumber in a sourdough sandwich. The mains were a quinoa burrito (quinoa, chickpeas, cheese and veg in a tortilla wrap) and tempeh burrito (tempeh, veg and mayo in a tortilla wrap). These were amazing, and you can see the humans like burritos. Pudding was a berry smoothie bowl a piece, topped with fruit and nuts and cookies, one lemon and one chocolate for dipping (or eating whilst waiting for the smoothie bowls to be made). All this came to 32Leva or £16, excellent value for money. We then made the short walk back to our AirBnb, relishing the proximity, and took a wander of the nearby streets as well.
Well, today was a slightly shorter Tail due to the amount of time we spent travelling. I’ll take this opportunity to explain Cyrillic to you, which is how words are written in both Bulgaria and Serbia. So, the Bulgarian alphabet currently contains 30 letters, and when Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, after Latin and Greek, Cyrillic became the third official language of the Union. How nice for it.
Take a look at the picture of the alphabet, the caption below it tells you what each letter is in the Latin alphabet (that’s the one we use in the UK, if you’re confused).
The Serbian alphabet is a little different, using an adaption of the Cyrillic alphabet. Although it is the official alphabet of Serbia, according to the internet, more people actually write in Latin letters. As with the Bulgarian alphabet, the Latin equivalent of the letters are found in the caption below the picture.
Join me tomorrow for our day in Serbia, our final city! Until then, folks. Chesh.
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