Note to Budapest Train Station: You Suck

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The Budapest train station was a huge dissapointment!

Like a lot of people, we too are suckers for train travel. There’s something about riding the iron rails that is just so gosh darn romantic. Not in the (insert Borat voice) sexy times kind of way or anything, but more in the old-timey, adventurer kind of way. Despite the fact you may just be going from London to Paris, doing it by train makes you feel like a goddamned adventurer! Like you’re Freya frigging Stark, crossing Arabia in a camel caravan! Except you’re going from London to Paris, on a train, 250 feet UNDER THE OCEAN! Yes, train travel is awesome sauce (or is it awesomesauce?). And even though most trips don’t end up being the romantic and luxurious old-timey wonderfulness of, say, The Orient Express, it still beats the hell out of air travel, and the requisite full body pat downs from TSA-holes.

Plus, train travel has train stations, which are at least one thousand times cooler than airports. Train stations are the most romantic of travel departure points, because your beau can run beside the train as you depart, and you can yell sweet nothings from the train window as you ride the iron rails away to adventure! And train station departure boards are way better than airport departure boards, because at a train station you really could decide to chuck all your plans, throwing best intentions to the wind, and buy a ticket to wherever you want. At an airport, it would cost you at least one arm and one leg for a last minute ticket to Irkutsk, but from a train station anywhere in Europe or mainland Asia, you really could get yourself to Irkutsk while maintaining ownership over your extremities.

And not to go overboard or anything, but train stations — at least in Europe — are beautiful; they are temples and testaments to human ingenuity! Architectural delights that pay homage to our ability to improve transportation and, in turn, our collective lot in life, by offering an enormous economic boost and making modern economy possible.

Milano train station
Milan’s Central Station is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Europe


Milan's train station
Seriously. We just do not build train stations like this anymore.


Now that I’ve established the awesomeness of the train station, you can understand why we don’t mind showing up early for a departure, lollygagging around at a pub or coffee shop, watching the comings and goings of the mass of humanity, all on their way to somewhere new and exciting and — to me — incredibly exotic. We don’t often actually manage to show up early — our utter failure and inability to organize ourselves while on the road was established a while ago; in actual fact, we most often arrive just in the nick of time, collapsing into a sweaty mess at our seats just as the train pulls away, grumpy at the fact we failed to get a coffee before the journey and anxiously wondering if we were supposed to validate our tickets.


WanderTooth at Prague train station
We had just enough time in Prague to take this photo!


So when we do have time, it’s especially exciting, and we try to savor the experience. And we did have time in Budapest. As we departed that morning from the Lavender Circus, I was excited about finding ourselves a nice cafe from where we could enjoy ourselves some pastries and espressos while immersing ourselves at the Budapest train station (Keleti), which I’d like to note is the MAIN international train station in Budapest. Budapest as a city is awesome, so I assumed by extension the Budapest train station would not disappoint.


From afar, it looks promising. Photo credit: NoMeEscuches via Flickr; CC licensed
From afar, it looks promising. Photo credit: NoMeEscuches via Flickr; CC licensed


I was wrong.

I loved the city, but the Budapest train station leaves a lot to be desired.

It was freezing cold. The only coffee to be found was of the freeze-dried variety; the only food to be found was of the “is my hepatitis shot up-to-date?” variety. Far from being a temple to the excitement and romance of European train travel — or hell, a testament to human ingenuity — it was…it was…BLAH! Nothing to do but sit and wait, with your hands shoved firmly in your armpits to stay warm.


Budapest Train Station
Budapest’s Kelti Train Station: What you see is what you get



7 thoughts on “Note to Budapest Train Station: You Suck”

  1. I have a love hate relationship with train stations. On one hand they have provided me with a safe and warm travel sanctuary, but then on the other, I’ve had a couple of scary experiences, particularly at night, in some cities, they seem attract the underworld and beyond.

  2. Tom @ Waegook Tom

    Thanks for the warning! I think I’ll be using a train to get from Budapest to Romania, so good to know that it’s not a place I want to hang around for too long in – I have a bad habit of ending up to train stations, bus stations and airports VERY early.

    1. Yeah – I hate it when I show up early and there’s nothing to entertain me. The airport in Saigon was a similar disappointment, although to be fair that was 13 years ago (Holy Crap!), so maybe they’ve improved upon it since then. As always, thanks for reading Tom!

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for reading! Haven’t been to Barcelona, so I will have to remember to check out the station when we finally make it there!

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