In Search of a Hungarian Train

April 1, 2006

I have now been to Hungary 6 times in the last 16 years. One “souvenir” that I would like to have but have not yet acquired is a model or toy Hungarian train (like the real one pictured on the left).

During my first visit to Hungary in 1990, I rode trains up and down the north shore of Lake Balaton every day of the four weeks I lived in Hungary. Seven years later when my wife and I lived in Debrecen for 9 months, we rode a lot of trains as we visited Budapest at least once a month. So for me, riding on trains is part of my “experience” of Hungary. And being a melacholy, I like to collect physical objects that remind me of a memory or experience.

On my most recent trip to Hungary two weeks ago, I decided to venture over to the transportation museum in Budapest to see if I could find a toy train or small model train in their gift shop. I thought that was as good a place as any to try to find one. I had wanted to venture over there while in Budapest this summer but it did not work out. I ended up having some unexpected free time on my recent trip and decided to go for it.

I did not find what I was looking for but I did have quite an experience. After walking for about 15 minutes across City Park, I made it to the museum. When I entered, they wanted me to pay admission to visit the museum. The lady at the desk did not speak English so I used the Hungarian for gift (ajandek) and gestured. She did not understand me and I was stumped at how to communicate because I have a very limited vocabulary in Hungarian. I was tempted to abandon my search.
But I did not want to give up after venturing all the way over there. I then tried to communicate with a man that had come over to the desk.  After a couple attempts, he was able to figure out that I wanted to see the gift shop. Several different people pointed me in the right direction. I finally made it to the “gift shop.”  They did not have any models or toys. They did have some bigger “models” of engines but they were about $200 and not what I was looking for.

Although I did not find what I was looking for (not sure I ever will), I am glad that I tried and I now think fondly about that adventure and how perseverance paid off.

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