Even in countries where I can’t speak a word of the language, getting around isn’t usually too much of a problem. In South America a little Spanish goes a long way; in the Middle East and Western Europe everyone speaks English; and in Asia I can read the bulk of the characters. As I mentioned recently France did pose some interesting problems, but all in all I was able to manage. Budapest has been my first taste of total linguistic isolation in quite awhile – perhaps since Korea – as Hungarian really is in a language group all on its own. Even though it does use the same alphabet as English (plus accent marks), and even though I have grown up hearing it (my paternal grandparents spoke Hungarian), so far I’ve rarely had any idea what’s what.
This presents the biggest problem while trying to eat, as I literally cannot understand even a single item on the menu – and unlike Asia, there aren’t any pictures to point at.
Thus my solution has been to do most of the shopping at supermarkets – something I usually try to do while traveling anyway, as it saves TONS of cash, allowing far longer trips on an identical budget (or equivalently, the ability to work less and play more within a fixed-length trip). It also saves time, since you can walk around with all the meals you need premade in your backpack, avoiding the need to constantly sit down in restaurants and wait for slow waiters and cooks.
Thus began my quest for a frying pan.
Throughout my stay in Paris and most of the Netherlands, I’ve been subsisting on baguettes, yogurt, fruit, and protein bars. This is starting to become very tedious, and now that I’m staying in a dorm with a refrigerator and kitchen, a nice breakfast omelette is starting to sound more and more appealing. The only issue is: no frying pan.
This simple household object proved to be far more difficult to obtain than expected, though it did lead to a fairly pleasant afternoon of roaming the city – even if it was on a cloudy and overcast day.
Oh, and while I’m on the subject of food – apparently these Doner Kebaps that you have on every other street corner in Germany are actually a Europe-wide phenomenon. So far I’ve seen about 10,000 of them here in Budapest, even more than in Paris.
Those Europeans sure do love their doner.