The tour minivan emerged into what had to be an important historical area of Budapest. The view from the window closest to me was of an especially stately palace adorned with statues, gates, towers, spires — typical castle stuff. The guide began to speak, and I eagerly waited to find out what iconic Hungarian landmark I was looking at.
“There are 16 McDonalds throughout the Buda and Pest metropolitan areas,” said Gabriella, a college student from Greece, who was translating the guide’s commentary, since I was on a tour of Budapest conducted entirely in Greek.
“Huh? Are we stopping for lunch?” was my first reaction to Gabriella’s comment. However, the seriousness of her tone convinced me that this was actually an authentic cultural tidbit she was relaying. Meanwhile, the tour guide, along with the rest of the passengers consisting of Iga, a woman traveling with her seven-year-old daughter, Katerina, as well as her parents and sister, turned to assess my response. None of them spoke English. Continue reading