I recently wrapped up a whirlwind series of days where I spent five nights in five different hotels and saw five different airports. I am counting one night in my 'base hotel' here in Szeged, but I feel I can count that since I was only back in town for about 18 hours.
On Wednesday night, after a day at work, I took the train to Budapest since I had an early morning flight to kick-off a three day trip. I missed my stop at the airport and had to double back on another train without a proper ticket. They didn't announce the airport stop, not even in Hungarian, and it was dark and lacking in proper signage. But this stop was at Terminal 1 and I thought I needed to be at Terminal 2 to catch the free shuttle to the hotel. So I jumped on a bus that had a sign on it that said it was going to Ferihegy 2. Ferihegy is the name of the airport so I thought the bus was going back to Terminal 2. I jumped on at the rear door and didn't realize at the time I was supposed to pay 400 Forints (about $2). Eh, no one said anything, but that might be why people looked at me. Then again, people look at me in Szeged. It probably has something to do with not being Hungarian. Back to the story, the bus did not go directly to Terminal 2. I am fairly confident that the bus eventually went there, but I started to worry after about six stops and it seemed like we were doing nothing but moving away from the airport and into a retail area. By sheer luck, I saw my hotel's sign in the distance and said screw it, I'm getting off at the next stop and walking. So I did.
If you're wondering about my luggage, I only took my backpack with my work materials and a change of clothes. When it comes to packing, the lesson to learn is that there is nothing that you cannot wear for two days in a row, especially if you see different people each day.
I couldn't really tell where my hotel was because it went out of view due to other buildings and the landscape. I eventually walked past a sign that said I was entering an airport business park. I was fully prepared to jump a fence if that's what it came to but I was staying at the Airport Hotel so it seemed promising. There were some cars on the street and they may have wondered what I was doing since it was almost 10 pm and really cold and why would anyone walk in an area like that at that time. I had steeled myself to walk for an hour if necessary before I would consider calling a taxi, but it only took about 20 minutes.
In the morning I took the free shuttle to the airport which was easy to find since it came every 30 minutes. It took me only 45 minutes from the time I woke up to the time I cleared the security checkpoint at the airport. If you ever need to stay near the Budapest airport, consider the Airport Hotel (that's its name) which is new, has free continental breakfast, 24 hour restaurant, and of course the free shuttle. Prices are good too. Use booking.com
I managed to hit up five airports because I did not get a direct flight (there are few to none of them for where I went) either there or back. I also went through a different connecting airport each way. But wait, that should only be four airports: Budapest, connection 1, destination, connection 2. Almost. When I arrived at my destination, I landed in one city. But I left from a different city because of where my last meeting was. My departure airport really could benefit from check-in kiosks. It was also a little strange since my return connection was through Zurich. So I left the E.U. and then jumped right back in so I had to clear customs twice. Also, when I left from my departing city, I almost had some trouble explaining what I was doing and my travel pattern. It doesn't help that they keep stamping my passport out of order and with illegible stamps. It seems sort of pointless.
When I got back to Budapest, I took that bus (and paid this time) from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 (but there were still stops in between but it made more sense with daylight), bought a train ticket, and generally had a hassle free ride back to Szeged. Where I stayed one night, cleaned up, shaved, packed different clothes and then went back to Budapest to meet a client for dinner on Sunday and then a different client for lunch on Monday. Now I'm back Szeged, but I might be hitting the road again as soon as Thursday.