b u d a  &  
p e s t

The Orient Express is neither. Sitting at Hegyshdorn Hug for an hour while the Nazi stormtroopers border check is not my idea of romantic train travel. I've been travelling with Bobak and Danny, two guys I met at the station. We all went into IBUSZ, the Hungarian travel office to look for a room. There we met Cinda, a cute Hungarian chick who patiently answered all our questions about the different permutations of us getting a place for the night. We realized she got the last laugh when she put us up with Laszlo Pataki and his wife, an angry looking and silent couple, two hours by train outside the city.

On the way, I realized I was a captive audience to Bobak's life story. For the entire two hours out to the Pataki compound, he talked nonstop. He was an Iranian national living in London, studying German for the semester in Vienna. He thought the language fit the stern and exacting German personality quite well. He illustrated his point by saying the English say "I love you," Italians say "Te amo," and the French say "J't-aime." Germans, on the other hand, say "Ich liebe dich."

Danny, on the other hand, was a twenty yr old anthro major on a year abroad program from Wesleyan. Until this trip, his most exciting experience was working in a McDonald's on the interstate near his hometown. He told me that Chicken McNuggets come in four shapes - squarish, oblong, circular and the one that looks like it has a tumour. He also said that at closing time, the shake mix is drained out of the machine into a pail. The next day, that same pail is poured back into the machine -- with no loss of flavor. The biggest McDonald's trade secret? Coffee shakes are flavor of the month for three-quarters of the year.

Back to the Grand Tour. . . .

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june 1996