Southbound Sickboy …. Hungarian Rhapsody

Southbound Sickboy …. Hungarian Rhapsody // Day 29
Deutscheleitkulturblog by Christian Raum
Berlin/Budapest 17. September 2017l

There are passenger ships travel to Budapest starting at a small pier under the bridge. Three days ago I went there to ask for time and price.

Pier with a ticket office and a second floor. Up there Captain’s bridge is situated. Captain and ticket officer work literally on the Danube. Their pier floating with the waves caused by every ship passing.

They wear worn out trousers and open shirts. Greyhairy chest with golden cross. Their teeth count is lousy. They are smiling. Their eyes, their sunglasses, the gold on chest and fingers sparkling with the sun and the rays, reflected by the water.

They are responsible for two ship’s journey upstream to Budapest. The slow ship at 16.00 hours. The fast at 17 pm. We negotiated time and price and cycle transport. I told them I would return next day to ship over to the capital.

Next day I arrived when ticket office was closed all ready. Only the Captain on the bridge. I told him I delayed my departures one or even two days.

Chatting… where you from? Where you go? All with a cycle… yes all the way from Berlin. Berlin? Berlin.

„Brave man,“ he said. „Come back the day you leave and buy ticket than.“

Next day I passed. But both crew member were busy checking a ship. I waved from a distance.

But time and day came for me to travel on. Things packed. Sickboy loaded. Star Navigation Team busy calculating arrival in Budapest and search a place to stay. Me happy and curious to go further South.

„Hey hello. What a sunny and hot day. I love the cool breath here on the pier… blah blah. Wonder if you spent a nice day in peace and chilly winds.“ Me smiling. But the ticket officer do not say a word. He turned his head.

Me walking around him… „Hey! Good afternoon!“ He looking up following with his eyes the one and only supertiny cloud moving slowly over the basilica. His Captain says something Hungarian. And than the ticket man starts to complain.

„No! No! No!!! Go away!! Go! I waited for you the day before yesterday!‘
„You did not come!“
„No. Yes. No.“
“ No!“
„I waited for you yesterday!! I do not want to see you. Go away! What do you want? I will not sell you a ticket!“

Oh… „Pardon me?“
„You cheated. You betrayed. You are a liar! I will not sell you a ticket. Go away!“
All conversation in German. Captain can not follow. He asking what the problem is.

Ticket officer retreating in the safety of his ticket office. Holding his head out of the door. Some harsh Hungarian words. Some unfriendly German words.

Captain winks. Tell me not to worry. Slammm! The ticket office door closed.

„I not talk with you. Go away! No tickets for you! I waited for two days. Now it is over. I not trust you. Do not allow you on board.“
Me smiling. I have 4500 Forint with me. As negotiated and discussed. I show him the money through the ticket office window.

„No! I do not accept your money. No No No. I will not let you go!“
„Mamma Mia,“ I thought. „Let me go.“
„See… I have a cycle with me. I am not alone. There is a Star Navigation Team traveling with me. I am responsible to bring them all safe to Budapest. Ship is my only option.“


The curtain being closed. „I am not talking to you!! I do not even see you!“
„Oh please. I came all the way from Berlin to sail with your awesome ship to your wonderful Budapest.“

Silence behind the curtain.

No word. Noisy thinking. Paper raschels.

„Ehmm… Berlin? East Berlin? From an East Berlin family? Are you from East Germany. Spending your life there?“ Three, four doubtful words from behind the curtain.
„Yes! Yes!“, I lie. And Danube tides change. Curtain open. The old well known smile from three days ago. Sparkeling eyes. „Please step in front of the window my friend.“

That’s were I am standing for the last five minutes or so.

„Where do you want to go my friend?“
„We have two steamer traveling today, my friend. Which own would you chose?“
„The four o’clock ship please.“
„One person?“
„I have a cycle with me.“
„Oh a cycle. Good. Brave, my friend This will be 3000 for you and 1500 for the cycle.“

Me counting the money onto the window’s frame.
„Sorry my friend. The ticket office is not open yet. Please step beside and return in 30 minutes.“

I step beside and meet him at the door.

„Believe me. I allow you to board the ship only because you are East German. I worked in Dresden. Jena. Frankfurt. You are welcome.“

Captain smiles at me.
He understood no word.
„All good?“

Around 8 pm Budapest is insight. Grim thunderstorm approaching. Black clouds move over parlament. When water and lightning fall from the sky I rush into close by hotel. Sitting on the terrace now. Listening to thunder and fireworkers sirens. Smoking. Thinking.

Am I a liar… ? May be I am a not too bad liar. No. At least Captain was on my side.











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