Travel Tip: Give the reliable Metros/Subways a chance!
Why It’s Important: On our recent trip to Budapest, John and I found ourselves in a straight downpour, nowhere near the city attraction that we had set out for (when the slight drizzle that was occurring seemed more than manageable) and were facing a possible disappointing day one.
As if on demand, we happened upon one of the many pop-up Budapest Info stands that sells tickets to the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tours as well as similar knock-offs. With no end in sight to the heavy rain and with jeans almost soaked through, we asked the vendor for two tickets to the popular bus tour despite the fact that the thought of actually taking a bus left both of us less-than-thrilled.
But! It was as if another sign was sent from above when the vendor told us the price – over $45 per ticket for just one day! An extra $90 for one day on a bus neither of us wanted to ride? John was the first to veto the idea, saying he could handle the rain and I quickly followed suit. There had to be a better option.
Of course, there was and it was the most obvious option around. The Metro System! Here’s the funny thing, following the tour exhaustion that was our time in Berlin, if a place is deemed unwalkable, I always make sure I have a map of the subway/metro systems because they are the best and most affordable way to get around. Budapest was the opposite, however, as it is a VERY walkable place. Knowing that, I didn’t give much thought to bringing Metro info…until the forecast turned on us day 1 – and then we almost spent money on an experience we had no interest in!
Which is why the Metro Station was a hand-to-the-forehead, “duh”moment for us – a 24-hour pass for unlimited use was a mere $7 each! And it included the above-ground trams as well.
It’s funny, too, how things work out – because had it not rained, we would not have taken the metro and therefore not gotten to see the second oldest train line in Europe! It’s a sight too – the stops are so quaint it is like stepping back into a different time. The trains are interesting too; some were definitely starting to show their age. But it was such an easy, fun experience that didn’t wear us out or leave us dripping wet that it actually enhanced our trip!
Not to mention, it was our first experience with the incredibly friendly people of Budapest! The Metros aren’t always meant for tourism, so they aren’t completely English-speaking friendly and the map in the Budapest Metro could have been in hieroglyphics for all we could understand. That is until a very nice young man who noticed our confused faces and offered to explain the Metro stops to us, without even being asked.
Now, there are plusses and minuses to everything, and for some, the buses may be the more ideal way to go. But you can’t beat the price ($90 vs $14) or the experience you’d miss out on otherwise if you’re stuck on a bus with fellow tourists as if you are all in one big site-seeing bubble. Most importantly, you may miss out on the fun that is stumbling upon something that wasn’t even on your radar to begin with!
Go in with an open mind, and the understanding that at some point you may hop on the wrong train in the complete wrong direction, but embrace the entire experience and get out from your comfort zone. Just don’t forget to bring a Metro map! 🙂