15th August 2016 - Exploring Eastern Hungary
Monday 15th August 2016
Plan A this morning was to catch the 7:12 to Fehérgyarmat as that train had a good connection to Zajta, which didn't have too many trains, but further investigations revealed that we could catch the 9:15, do the lines to Csenger and Fehérgyarmat and go to Zajta later on. There was also an 8:45 to Füzesabony and a 9:12 to Valea lui Mihai in Romania so we made sure that we were at the station in time to look at those as well. The latter had a required 418/3 on but it was a "move to nowhere" as if we had taken it to the border there would be a two hour and twenty minute fester there before anything back and we didn't want to cross the border having neither a CFR timetable or currency.
The class 418 on the 9:15 was not required but the main aim of the day was new track so we got on for the slow journey to Mátészalka which was quite a large station where four lines diverged and services to a further two places which branched off the other lines. We only had four minutes to change trains with more than one to choose from but the nearest Bzmot was clearly labelled as going to Csenger so there were no problems. There were few people on board, most of whom got off at various stations en route but we stayed on until the end of course, taking a couple of pictures before returning on the same unit to Mátészalka where there was about half an hour to visit the Co-Op mini opposite the station and photograph the plinthed steam loco outside the station.
Next, we took another loco-hauled train to Fehérgyarmat to connect with a unit to Zajta, which was a heavily rebuilt class 127 "Inter Pici" Bzmot which had new seats and air conditioning; truly a silk purse from a sow's ear. If we thought that the lines we had been on so far today were slow then they had nothing on this line, 50 minutes to do 25 kilometres and we have to confess to nodding off on the way.
Zajta was not as good as Csenger for photographs but we did take a token photo before heading straight back after six minutes at this outpost of the MAV network.
As the train stopped at the first "station" after leaving Zajta a white car screeched to a halt in a cloud of dust next to the dirt platform, doors flew open, two young people leapt out and raced round to the boot to collect their luggage before running to the train, talk about cutting it fine. We did wonder whether they had actually intended to get on at Zajta, missed the train and got their driver to chase after it, probably no mean feat as the roads looked as if they were in no better comparable condition than the railway.
By the time we got back to Fehérgyarmat, the sky was very dark and threatening to the north though the sun was still out where we were so a couple of pictures were taken including a narrow gauge C50 type loco, Gv3729, which was plinthed inside a barbed wire topped compound.
A couple of stations further down the line, the sun had disappeared and something went "clonk" on the roof, followed by another one, then another, then it sounded as if we were inside a steel drum and it was barely possible to see further than a couple of hundred yards across the fields. At the first signs of the downpour we had leapt up and closed all the windows in our section of the train but didn't realise that one in the vestibule was open, only noticing when a stream of water started running under the door!
The rain had just about stopped by the time we got to Mátészalka but there were large puddles everywhere though it hadn't rained everywhere as some places we passed through on the way back to Debrecen looked quite dry. After sitting on the train for most of the previous 2 1/2 hours we decided to walk back to the hotel as it was not raining and passed one of the restaurants that had been marked on our map last night. It was called Belga and was a little further along than where the "X" had been marked on the map and had a good selection of Belgian beers; perhaps it was a friend of the similarly-stocked restaurant in the hotel Raba in Győr? The food was very good but almost double the price of the Csokonai last night and more like the amount we would expect to pay in somewhere like the UK or Germany.
Music could be heard as we walked the rest of the way back to the hotel after eating and this was traced to the stage that we had noticed yesterday in the main square which had been moved a short distance and was now occupied by an orchestra who were playing "Clair de lune" by Debussy. The concert was being filmed and relayed to a couple of large screens to the side so that people further back in the crowd could see the musicians at work. We stopped and listened for a while and noticed what looked to be an army band preparing to perform next, there was a plain dull green coach parked nearby which looked rather military. Standing in the open air listening to a free concert was certainly a nice relaxing way of rounding the day off.
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