How to spend a good Fall break:
Catch a ride with the Hungarian/Canadian missionary who works in Ukraine. You’ll probably make a side trip to visit the Roma settlement on the outskirts of Péterfalva, and take some Dutch missionaries to see a potential work site, and drop off a load of donated clothes to a pastor who lives on the other side of every busy train track in Transcarpthia. But never fear. He’ll get you to Sárospatak in time for the 4 o’ clock train to Budapest.
Practically get proposed to by your fellow-train-compartment-inhabitant. Wish you’d switched which hand your ring was on before you got on the train.
Train – metro – tram 1 – tram 2 – walk down the block. Arrive at Bethlen Gábor Kollegium, where the Calvin College Hungary semester students live, just as Leighanne asks, “Heard anything from Cassidhe?” Sleep in the bed just a wall away from where you spent 4 months 3 years ago on your very own Budapest adventure.
Put leaves in your hair for the Halloween party; mix up directions and spend several hours with Tanya trying to find a flea market on the exact opposite side of town; finally find the flea market and find it necessary to remind yourself that it still counts as consumerism to want to buy everything you see even if it is old and used; eat falafel; drink tea with Istvan and Melinda, some of your Hungarian Budapest friends; ride trams and people-watch; help SarahJean decorate her wall; make a meal and eat it by candlelight; try to figure out how the new tram lines work now that the Szabadsag bridge is open.
Send the entire group off to Croatia with good wishes and then hurry off yourself to the train station to catch a train back to Sárospatak. Discover a much shorter line than you were anticipating and spend about 2 hours reading The Hobbit under the glass and metal dome that is the Keleti Pályaudvar. Rule number 2 of traveling alone – bring a book. (Rule number one is switch the hand your ring is on.) Persistantly ask the kerchiffed old woman across from you if the next stop is Sárospatak because you have about 30 seconds to decide if you’re getting off the train before it starts up again.
Gallavant about Sárospatak with Erin and Peggy, two American English teachers living in Patak. Eat pizza and Greek salad and watch Little Miss Sunshine. Walk to the town castle. Enjoy some maple syrup.
Spend your final day and night with Klara, the Hungarian English teacher mentioned here. Spend the morning playing Junior Settlers of Catan and memory matching games with her three daughters. Spend the evening talking about differences between British and American English and helping Klara with her homework of deciphering the Appalachian dialect.
The final leg of your journey takes place on a national holiday, All Saints Day. Don’t worry; the nature of the holiday means that there will be even more trains and buses running than usual. Take a train from Sárospatak to Nyiregyháza. Walk to the bus stop. Wait an hour. Take a bus from Nziregyháza to Vásarosnameny. Wait for an hour. Take a bus from Vásarosnameny to Beregsúrany. Walk across the Hungarian-Ukrainian border just as dusk comes rolling in (about 4pm). (By the way, walking across a border, rather than driving or flying across, has a very solid and grounded feeling. It actually feels like you are crossing something.) Get a ride from your teacher friend Éva back to KRISZ-pont.
Celebrate your incident-less return by having a long skype call with your Dad and finishing The Scarlet Pimpernel.