Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I'm So Hungary

People always make fun of nonsensical English-language t-shirts in Japan but they should go to Croatia. A coast chock full of tourists makes for a sea of tacky souvenir t-shirts and I am really hoping that kids on the Dalmatian coast understand less of the English language than the Japanese. How else to explain "Who needs boobs..." (and then on the back) "When you've got an ass like this?" (14 year old girl). Or "You need to buy me a drink because you're still ugly" (12 year old boy). Then there was the economically-worded "He is gay" with an arrow meant to point at the person standing next to the wearer of the t-shirt. For some strange reason, I felt like apologizing to the Croatians for these hideous shirts.

Maybe English is tough but Hungarian is WAY HARDER. We're in Budapest now and there is absolutely nothing in this language that I can hang a hat on...no familiar words, sounds, nothing. When I read maps or our guidebook, my eyes just glaze right over when they get to a Hungarian word, all of which seem to begin or end with "nagy." It is a famously impenetrable language. The only thing I can remember is that greetings are backwards - you can say the phonetic equivalent of "See ya" for hello and "Hello" will work for goodbye. Both are kind of useless anyway because usually the shopkeeper will bark something to me in a brusque manner and I will scuttle away scared. Smiling in a friendly manner doesn't really work here.

This morning, Isaac and I went for coffee at the Gerbeaud which is yet another example of crazy gorgeous art deco. Then a long walk up the hill to the citadel on the Buda side. It's a great view of Pest. Then we went to the Gellert baths to soak all aft. Hot, cold, hot, cold, inside, outside! The sauna was truly scary, however, and I didn't last longer than 30 seconds. It was the most intense sauna I've ever been in and kind of felt like the time I had the mystic tan mishap (scary, can't see, surrounded by air that seems solid rather than a gas). I've cooked in hot waters before but this sauna was downright painful and I felt my metal necklaces (tiny, dainty chains) immediately heat up enough to scorch my neck. It was awful and I headed straight for the tiny cold bath (8 degrees) after to dunk myself. Pins and needles! This hot cold thing rules.

Best items seen in souvenir shop: Britney Russian doll and Simpsons Russian doll (Bart on outside, cracked-out Lisa on inside drawn by someone who's obviously never seen the Simpsons, plus random teacups painted on the inner three).
Worst items seen in fleamarket: actual SS Nazi rings and paraphernalia.

More notes to come.


Blogger mad said...

ohhh how lovely to hear of budapest. how i adored living there all those years ago, up in buda on a gorgeous little winding street called normafa.

this means my recos would all be sadly out of date - but back in 1988, the pastries were amazing at the forum hotel & there were tons of awesome ice cream places, & who could forget the abundance of schnitzel?

keep the reports coming!!

9:21 PM  

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