Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ticket line terror

We thought it would be simple - all we wanted to get was a simple train ticket reservation, using our EuRail pass, to go from Budapest to Zurich.
Budapest is very pretty

So, being sensible, we decided to get it done when we first arrived in Budapest, since we didn't want to waste our time there going back to the station to do it.

So, we arrived, tired as usual after a long train journey, and found the ticket office..

Full of people!

OK, no problem, there was a 'get a number' queuing system, so we grabbed a number for the 'Ticket purchase", but not the "Tickets for trains leaving in the next two hours".
Queuing tickets..

And waited...

After an hour, we thought maybe we could try getting the other ticket type, as they got served almost immediately. (There was no ticket vending machines in this whole train station, so everyone had to come here for their tickets!)
So I grabbed a ticket, and instantly got called to the counter, where I explain we want a ticket for the day-after-tomorrow, at which point the clerk rejects me, telling me I have the wrong queue and to go away.

But it was worth a shot!

We asked one staff member if there was any other place to buy tickets, or if there were ticket vending machines that could be used..
"No, nowhere else. No machines", was the response..

We still had the other queue ticket, and there were still about 100 numbers ahead of ours, so at the rate it had progressed (and I use that word lightly), we'd get our turn in about two or three hours' time..

But, we had no choice.
480 up... we're 563.. sigh

So we waited more...

After another hour in non-airconditioned discomfort - luckily there was an open door and a slight breeze or we would have perished - the queue was only down another 25-30 numbers, so it's probably be another two hours' wait..

But then, salvation!!

"Excuse me, are you waiting to buy an international ticket?" said a couple walking past us.

Why, yes, we were!

"There's another ticket office, with no queue at all"

Wait, what?! Did we hear that right?? But we'd been told by the staff that there was nowhere else..??

We asked for clarification, and yes, they told us that across the platforms, at the other side of the station there is a ticket office where they had just bought a ticket with no problems.

We thanked them, jokingly saying "don't tell too many people until we get there" as we rushed off to investigate this wondrous place!

It was real! This nirvana of train ticketing exists!!
The other office!

We strolled in (ok, we huffed and puffed with all our bags) to be greeted by air-conditioning and a free counter. No queue!
These folk were after us, we took pic when done.

We asked the lady if we could in fact get the same tickets here as at the other ticket office, and she confirmed we could. Even our EuRail pass was no problem.
The only difference, she said, was that their Euro conversion rate was slightly worse that the other office's, but that was all. If anyone paid with the local currency, the prices were exactly the same, no commissions or fees.

So we got our overnight train to Munich and the connecting train from there to Zurich, all done in less than 10 minutes. It only took that long because our first preference, a direct sleeper to Zurich was booked out and we needed to get her to find the trains via Munich.
Thankfully, Naomi has found that option during her research, so we knew about it and could suggest it to the clerk.

After we had the tickets in our possession, we thought we'd better 'pay it forward', so went to the people waiting outside the other office and told a few people about our experience.

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