From Hungary to Switzerland
For the first (and last) time in my life, after a full week of shenanigans only I could get myself into (you wouldn't believe me if I told you, so I'll just leave it there), I decided to embark on the longest bus ride of my life.
I've ALWAYS been able to sleep in moving vehicles with absolute ease. Like, 20 minutes tops, I'm out like a light. It drives some co-riders nuts, but my mom sure loved it when I was a screaming, colicky baby (yes, this has been a thing since day 1). So when I saw it was meant to be a 20 hour bus ride, I figured, "eh, no big deal." I WAS SO WRONG.
This twenty hour bus ride turned into a 24 hour bus ride with MULTIPLE INTERRUPTIONS in the whole trek. From border control checkpoints at every country's border, to screaming babies at random points in the middle of the night, to the bus getting stuck in Austria! The tip of the iceberg to top it all off? I had this dawning realization that I was coming down with strep. BLEH.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again... and again... and again. Traveling is all about rolling with the punches. Cue me opting for my stash of ibuprofen, snacks, my weight in water, and my eye mask for as much sleep as I could squeeze in. It worked... kind of.
At one point, around 1am, I remember being woken up to the bus moving....backwards? In my disoriented state of mind, I legit thought the bus had broken down. The hazard lights were flashing, the baby directly in front of me was screaming, a group of girls two seats behind me were giggling and waking everyone around them, the driver and his co-pilot were outside yelling and shoveling and trying to get the bus to move forward. It was an overwhelming way to wake up, to say the least. I sat up, looked out the window and pulled up Snapchat to document the moment, then proceeded to laugh to myself and remind myself it was all out of my control, turned back over and *tried* to PTFO.
Turned out, the bus WASN'T broken down, just caught in the middle of a heap of snow and ice. Though it was late, and again, me in my state of mind couldn't tell a difference, and I was MORE than put off by all the distractions in my delirium. I was in a constant state of waking up, falling back to sleep, being jolted awake by the numerous border patrol checkpoints and sleeping position changes. The mom in front of me had understandably given up on trying to console her screaming child (it was off and on all night. Moms get hella tired. I couldn't blame her), and the uneven toss and turn of the bus heading to each destination proved for one of the most exhausting 24 hours I've experienced thus far.
Of course, being sick was a far cry from helping matters. KNOWING what I had (I am ALL too familiar with strep throat), and being unable to do anything about it besides getting extra sassy with myself and the world (cue my sarcastic acceptance of my imminent demise at hand), made for a pretty... miserable trek, to say the least. I eventually just accepted my fate, let out a string of curses under my breath, and faded in and out of consciousness as best as my body would allow.
A silver lining to this entire ordeal was that the bus actually *somewhat* had wifi for me to maintain a shred of my sanity. Mind you, it would fail on me the second I was actually trying to be semi productive about anything, but totally worked in moments I just wanted to allow my brain to turn to mush. Coincidence? Probably not. I spent off and on hours scrolling through Facebook and Twitter (probably the longest I've spent on either since beginning this journey), finding new music on Spotify, and sometimes the occasional YouTube video. I knew any semblance of work-related activities would not pan out at the time, nor do I think I had the energy to invest in such ventures, anyway. All of this to aptly say, #FirstWorldProblems.
Alas, we finally reached Switzerland's border checkpoint about 2 hours after our scheduled arrival. They were friendly enough, and actually ended up being the only border patrol that has asked me what my intentions for visiting a country were for. After the questioning, we were asked to exit the bus and find our bags. Okay, kinda weird. Next thing you know, we're standing in a line up with all of our luggage and bags waiting for a dog to come and check for anything illegal. Yo, I've never felt more like a suspected criminal than in those moments. Kind patrolmen and a lineup search? That's a new one for me. Oh, and NO PASSPORT STAMP.
Well, as it goes, I survived not only the trek but also the lineup. I eventually DID find my exit *finally* at my destination. Or, at least semi close to it. I have become very resourceful in terms of survival skills and communication. I primarily live solely off wifi right now, which means of course I cannot communicate with people without it. I've gotten quite adept at finding sources and sending out Morse code-like messages when I know I only have limited moments to get a message across. As soon as my bus left, I knew the only way to communicate with my friend who I would be staying with while in Switzerland would be to steal some more wifi. And what better way than the next bus that happened to be sitting not 10 feet away from me waiting for its passengers. I sent her my location, told her I'd probably be losing wifi at any moment, so all messages should be short, sweet, and to the point, and proceeded to piece together my next puzzle: finding my way from this random bus stop to meet with her.
I would like to remind everyone reading this that once again, I'm feeling very much like death while trying to accomplish this current mission. I'm carrying a good 40lbs of my entire life on my body in addition to a bag of groceries for a week (hey, Switzerland is expensive. I had to take advantage of cheap food while in Budapest), all the while siphoning wifi from an unsuspecting nearby bus, and trying to communicate with my friend about directions in a fairly complicated transportation system to get to her. Also noting that almost all transportation instructions (purchasing fares) are in French and I know maybe 2 phrases and a small handful of words in the language. I'm not one to back down from a challenge, but I swear, this required a new level in sheer determination and perseverance I had not yet experienced.
It took quite a bit longer than I anticipated, but with the kindness and mercy of a local bus driver who thankfully DID speak English (and even gave me a free ride as I had actually given up on trying to figure out how to pay the machine at the bus stop) and took me all the way to the train station in Lausanne (God bless him), and the ticket lady at the train station who actually input all necessary info into the machine FOR me (THANK YOU), I freaking made it. I was most definitely mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained and DONE for the day, but I freaking made it.
My reward for all the personal hell I'd survived the past 24 hours was getting to ride in style on my friend's moped back to her place. Probably not the greatest choice for someone in my physical condition, but TOTALLY worth it. We managed to secure all my bags, and off we went in Montreux, Switzerland.
I had finally arrived.
*Sick as a dog and not even caring anymore*