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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Budapest 2: The Ugly Americans 

I really do love this city. Aside from how beautiful and historically relevant it is, it feels Old. You know, you can just *feel* the bones of the city and the earth beneath it? I love it. Also, it's fairly inexpensive, and there are a large number of really really hot men. As today was spent at an outdoor public pool (I was outvoted on the Turkish Bath idea...maybe I'll go alone tomorrow), there was plenty of opportunity to observe said specimens in near-optimal conditions.

Warning! Possibly obnoxious rant ahead.

But then, there's the trouble with traveling with my family. For all the upsides (we go places I can't afford on my own, do things I couldn't/wouldn't do on my own, etc.), there are the downsides. The first is, obviously, that I'm traveling with my parents. And sharing a hotel room with my younger sister. This means those hot Hungarian boys are for looking only ;-(

Also, my parents and sister have a habit of playing the Ugly Americans; our parents are rather experienced travelers, and my sister has lived abroad, so this never ceases to shock me. They really ought to know better.

My dad makes the same joke he makes with waiters in the US: telling them that the food was terrible, and that we couldn't eat it, as they clear away empty plates. This is obnoxious at home, but where the servers' command of the subtleties of English are less than perfect, it leads to visible confusion and consternation. Visible, that is, to everyone but him. My mom is perpetually asking "what's in that" and, following the response, saying "oh, I don't want that, do you have (insert other dish that may or may not resemble what's on the menu)?" And my sister, who above all should know better, today at lunch began loudly reading and making fun of the mistakes in the English version of our menu, which included a detailed (and, I think, interesting) history of Hungarian cuisine. The waiters all spoke enough English to know what pointing and laughing means.

None of us speak Magyar, or German, or Czech, or any of the local languages, and while less than ideal, that's the way it is. The thing my family does that makes me CRAZY is that they make no effort whatsoever to learn even the basics, like 'hello,' 'goodbye,' 'thank you,' etc. Which I feel is the least I can do (since learning a language for every trip, while a nice goal, is not gonna happen) And what's worse: when I point out to them that what they're doing is rude/inappropriate, they tell me to 'have a sense of humor' and tell me I'm being immature.

End rant.

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