Published: July 13th 2012July 11th 2012
After a full day of traveling from Miskolc to Budapest, Hungary and then to Croatia, we finally made it to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. Our initial plans were to take the train from Miskolc to Budapest, but the Korean-American family allowed us to ride with them to Budapest which not only saved time but money. More importantly, we had wonderful conversations and learned much about their lives, their work as Baptist missionaries, and struggles that the Gypsies face in Hungary (e.g., Hungarian Christian churches will not let Gypsies worship in their congregations nor provide them with an opportunity for baptism). A recent article published by the New York Times noted that tensions between native Hungarians and Gypsies threaten to tear the country apart.
Gypsies are also referred to as Roma. They are of India, Egyptian, or another closely aligned Arab/Indian decent. The Roma continue to be among the poorest in the country. Their birth rates are much higher and their average expected life span is significantly lower than the Hungarian national average. Roma continue to be discriminated and live a harsh life in the country. They face hardship and prejudice, and it is estimated that 80% live in poverty.
I have much more to say on this topic, but it would take several hours of your time; thus, I will refrain myself from writing an article on this one topic. We do have their contact information and will likely contribute to their mission. We thank them for their generosity!
It took two hours for us to travel from Miskolc to Budapest by car - would have taken 3 1/2 by train. Once at the train station we purchased our tickets to Zagreb. We departed Budapest at 1:00 PM and arrived in Zagreb at 7:45 PM. Like all adventures in foreign lands, this trip had its own twists and turns which added to our collective experiences. We located the correct train but had no clue as to which car we should board. Each “official” person we asked just nodded their head and pointed to the train. Therefore, we boarded the last car and settled in for a 7-hour ride to Zagreb.
After 30 minutes of traveling, the “ticket-man” checked our passes and informed us that this car would “fall off the track at some point down the line.” Sara looked at me and asked, “Why is the train
going to break in half?” Not having an answer, I just assured her that this car would not fall off the track or break in half – at least those were my wishes. Nevertheless, at the next stop Sara and I grabbed our bags, exited the train and sprinted to down the tracks and jumped on another car on the same line. Once on board this car, we met two young men from Finland (we nicknamed them B.J. and Wyatt – our neighbors form New Jersey).
Once on board the car, we quickly noticed that no seats were available. Our Finish friends informed us that they sell many, many more tickets than there are seats. So for the next two hours we sat on our bags between two cars and had a great time conversing with our new friends from Finland. Although we could not understand their names, the young man that looked like B.J. is an elementary school teacher and his best friend, whom we call Wyatt, is a hockey coach. Finally, we were able to find some seats for the last four hours of the trip. Our Finish friends commandeered, legally, a six-person cabin with two other
young families from the UK who were traveling to Split, Croatia.
Needless to say, we had a wonderful time with our Finnish friends. We wish them well on their travels! Upon arrival in Zagreb, we took a cab to our hotel, located our room, and went straight to bed. Croatia is beautiful and we look forward to exploring Zagreb!