AMENDMENT: The rail strike has since ended and trains are running throughout Hungary.

Hear that? No? That's because Budapest is missing a distinct sound. The sound of trains.

This photo was taken at peak rush hour time at Nyugati station, one of the city's main and usually most bustling domestic train stations. Take note of the arrival and departure board - nearly empty, save for a train headed to the airport. It's not exactly what I'd call active.

Since last Saturday there has been a strike that started with the railroad's domestic workers, but then spread by week's start to almost all trains in and out of Hungary. It's been reported that the cause for the strike is an internal battle between train officials and employees over money employees feel they deserve after the sale of a private sector of MAV.

Walk into any of Budapest's three main train stations, including Keleti, which normally handles most of the international traffic, and you'll be surprised at the deserted nature that haunts the iron and glass lattice-work. Despite Christmas being just days away, the strike shows no signs of stopping, which spells disaster, or at least major headaches, for holiday travelers with destinations outside of Hungary. However, it's been said that railroad employees will suspend the strike temporarily on the Christmas holiday. For those who want to arrive to family and friends earlier than Christmas Day, good luck.

A separate strike at Budapest's airport has holiday travelers needing to arrive at the airport three hours before departure to ensure everything goes smoothly. At this point, the bus is your best bet, either that or good old fashioned thumbing it.

Jacob P.

Ophélie Bretnacher has been MISSING since Thursday December 4th, in Budapest. She was last seen at around 3AM between Portside de Cuba and Chain Bridge. Her bag was found with her ID and phone on the Pest side of the bridge, but no sign of Ophélie. If anyone has ANY information, please contact the facebook group here or call this number:


Please help us look for her by spreading the word to your friends, your help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you. has gone viral!

That means we've posted a very silly video on Youtube which may or may not pass as entertainment. You decide!

If you think anyone might be amused, annoyed or believe that Bob and Skyler might be in earnest, please pass on the link. After all, you are our pathogens!

Down and Out in Budapest

With every Christmas comes new decorative fads, and Budapest is no exception. Last year seemed to be the year of mini-Santas climbing towards windows like jolly little gremlin-burglars. This year, they've grown and they've taken to hanging around outside shops, doing little jigs.
Just take a trip down the körűt and you'll see a few. Some just stand there; others shift from one leg to the other, to keep warm; one even has a saxophone, although he didn't bother to show up when I went to see him yesterday. Busking's not for everyone.

The one thing they all share is that they don't exactly exude Christmas - or Mikolas - cheer. Jingle Bells couldn't have been further from my mind. Several of them look like they've been standing outside for too long; like they have no homes to go to. In fact, I saw a disturbed-looking homeless person outside 'Plus' supermarket the same morning doing much the same thing, instilling a mixture of pity and repulsion in the passers-by.

Left out on the street, Santa isn't bearing up so well, and he's not even real. The guy outside "Plus", however, is as real as you or I.

So for anyone who's interested, there are several charities who are working to improve the lives of the homeless in Budapest. The Hungarian Maltese Charity is one of the most visible and has information in English here. Alternatively, you can donate direct to the homeless foundation, Fedél Nélküliekért Alapítvány, who are the ones who sell the papers on the streets. ("Számlaszám" is the account number.)

There, that's as much Christmas spirit as you're likely to get from me.

Andy Sz.


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