Maybe it’s just us, but catching a flight from Budapest to Dubrovnik is a bitch at this time of year—unless one likes flying through London.
After researching major airlines for half an hour, we decided to pack it in a train to Zagreb instead. At Kelati Station, the southeast train station in Budapest, we bought two tickets for HUF7,280 (€30; $40) each.
The journey was six hours but the train car conversation seemed to stretch over an eternity. Riding in cushioned seats along Lake Balaton, the largest lake in continental Europe, we had the pleasure of chatting with Sándor and Martina. The two Huns had about 130 years between them and a treasure-trove of European history to share.
The train itself was clean, providing standard heavy metal bathroom facilities and both smoking and non-smoking cars. We made up for the lack of restaurant car with our own fruits and energy bars. Border patrol officials were friendly—and attractive!—in dark blue uniforms.
Upon arrival in Zagreb, we paid HRK2 (€.27; $.37) to use the toilet and HRK15 (€2; $2.75) to use roomy lockers at the train station. After acquiring a few hundred HRK out of the bankovni automat, we hit the city. Zagreb is small enough to tranverse sans tram. Tram rides, incidentally, are pricey at HRK6.50 (€.90; $1.20) apiece.
The gorgeous Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (formerly St. Stephen’s) provides free transportation to enlightenment while the funicular up to Markov trg cost HRK6.50. It was a heavenly sight to see both in use, enough to inspire us to surf the Internet at the Art Kaffee along the lively pedestrian Tkal?i?eva Street (HRK.25 [€.03; $.05]) and write home about it.
Two tickets to Dubrovnik’s paradise aboard Croatia Airlines cost HRK475.80 (€64; $87) each. Providing between three and four flights daily, Croatia’s national airline also provided a thick, glossy magazine with lots of high quality photos of Istria and the country’s favorite cookie. It reminded us of gingerbread.
Arriving into Dubrovnik’s Old Town at night was spectacular, to say the least.
Toni Bokun of Guesthouse Bokun picked us up, at no charge, blasting Supergirl out of the CD player of his little Euro-sized sedan. Warm and friendly, he wasn’t afraid to get informal fast, teaching us some world famous Hrvatska slang on the way to his garden pala?a. But Toni and his garden paradise are tomorrow’s story…
Wandering Cheapo Kari Hoerchler is a blogger, budget traveller and science fiction novelist stationed on Planet Earth. She has recently been spotted on small stages of New York coffeehouses telling tall tales of a tropical island—and future vacation hot spot—in the Bermuda Triangle. Book ahead.