What a difference a year makes....
I was on a 5-country vacation trip in Central Europe.
This year this Keleti station in Hungary has been the center of worldwide migration attention.
Syrian refugees tried to pass through on their way to a new life in Austria or Germany.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, were denied access to trains and "camped" trackside and in the spacious lobby.
The station emptied quickly and we wandered around the huge space, looking for an ATM.
We had no local currency and finally found the machine we sought and withdrew 100,000 HUF, in Hungarian Forints.
I raised my eyebrows at having a hundred grand of any money in my hands - and looked around nervously - but used my calculator and quickly saw it amounted to only about $355 USD.
The cab driver nodded when we gave the address of our rented 4-room flat at 29 Andrassy Ut. and, ten minutes later, we arrived safely at our private lodging for the next few days.
The added bonus of renting an apartment instead of another hotel room, was there was a washing machine in the kitchen.
He walked us through the second floor apartment and quickly left.
It was 2:00 in the morning and it had been a long day.
We had started out from Vienna and got off the train in the capital of Slovakia to spend the day.
The late train was a bit frustrating but luckily, when it did suddenly arrive, we had our bags and tickets ready and had scrambled on board.
Pretty classy neck of the woods, as they say.
Our rental had lots of brochures and suggestion on nearby places to eat. And to bar hop.
We had a late breakfast at a nice place around the corner and realized we were the only "tourists" in the place.
We ordered with a lot of smiles, nodding and pointing at pictures of items on the menu.
I'm looking back at how we fared a year ago compared to the anguish these migrating Syrians had to suffer as their stay in Budapest extended to many weeks, forcing many of those fleeing to pick up their scant possessions and start walking toward a new life at the Austrian frontier.
(Click on the photo and links for more details.)
I wrote a blog posting about this trip last year but the news breaking in this city - and the Hungarian government's reaction to a sudden flood of men, women and children - seemed reason enough to re-visit.
Have a happy and safe vacation everyone.