Driving in Budapest

Budapest brings up all kinds of memories for me, but the most vivid one was the nightmare of driving through the city. First off, all European drivers are nuts. And if you happen to be European that craziness is embedded into your blood stream and will resurface the moment you get behind the wheel of a car in Europe. Lucky for me, Karlo already drives like a lunatic in the States, but in Europe he had to take it up a few notches – just to fit in.

My role in any road trip is always that of navigator and normally I do a great job. I love maps and can read them very well. I have a keen sense of direction and can express myself quite well. But this only works when the language that I’m expressing these directions is English. Throw me into the city streets of Budapest, where all the cars (including ours) are flying around at warp speeds, the average street name includes 17 characters, 2 of which are vowels, and I’m at a complete loss. The scene went something like this . . . Karlo becoming increasingly irritated because I can’t seem to perform his simple request of, “Just give me a street name as we pass it.” First off, there are no street signs like we are used to here in The States. The names of the streets are written somewhere on the buildings that are on the corners of the streets – never in a consistent spot and never in a consistent way. So we zip by a street name that looks something like this Utcanévlexikona, or this Kiskunhalasikaporszaklu Utca, or this Zenetorteneti at 40 mph and he thinks that I can come anywhere close to phonetically uttering something similar to the name. I would get about this far ”U . . . T . . . C . . . A . . . “ before the sign was a distant memory. I was useless in my role of navigator and needless to say we spent a lot of time driving in circles lost in Budapest. It was ironic how the one place in Europe where Karlo should have been the most ‘at home’ and we were the most lost because the language was, and will always be, impossible for me.