As we headed to Keleti train station on the first rainy night in a week of summer with opera tickets in hand, a woman walked past us with tears in her eyes. She was another tourist and as we turned the corner, I could see the cause of her tears.
Long before our trip to Hungary, I was following the news of the migrants (or more acurately, refugees) fleeing war in Syria and Libya. The stories of innocent people making desperate decisions to leave their lives behind and search for peace in another country were so heartbreaking to hear. Many died on their way to Europe using small fishing boats to cross the Mediterranean and dodging border police and highway cars in the dead of night. Now that they made their way in, it seemed as if the journey was only halfway done.
What started out as a slow trickle, has turned into a flood of people rushing into Europe before Hungary finished building a manned border fence to keep migrants out. Thousands have come in daily, as they head towards Germany and Sweden by way of Hungary and then Vienna. Those other countrIes have been far more welcoming to these migrants, but under the heavy load of these streams of people rushing in, trains between Austria and Hungary had to be closed for the second time in 2 weeks to regain control. Unfortunately this also happened on the last 2 days we were scheduled to leave in the same direction.
Luckily for us, we managed to buy a ticket to Bratislava, Slovakia. It being only an hour away from Vienna meant we could exlore another country on the way and board the train again in the evening. Sadly for the migrants, they don't have it so easy. As our train departed Budapest, they were taken into a seperate direction to a special train waiting for them. Whether it was heading to the border, or to the migrant camps, I don't know.