Things we didn't know about Hungary:
1) Budapest was actually two separate cities, each named for a branch
of the Danube River. Buda is on the west side, and Pest is on the
east. 150 years ago, they became one city - Budapest. Do you think
this will happen to Minneapolis/St. Paul?
2) Paprika has a taste to it. I thought it was invented as a garnish
for deviled eggs. I mean, is there any other use for it? And I certainly
didn't know it was spicy. I think I've used it to sprinkle on a
cake before - I can't believe my ignorance! The Hungarians use it
in goulash, on steak, on chicken. It's also at the table in the
restaurants - instead of salt and pepper, it's salt and paprika.
3) The allowed blood alcohol level for drivers is zero. No tolerance
whatsoever. Probably pushed through by the taxi drivers. We were
pulled over by the Hungarian police when we took a side road, and
were asked if we had druken any alcohol. Nope. Did you have any
alcohol absolute? Nope - just Findlandia (don't feel bad if you
don't get it; they didn't get it, either). Then they asked to see
our drivers licenses, passports, and vehicle registration. Uh oh.
But it was OK, I guess. They gave it all back and let us go after
giving us detailed instructions on how to get to our hotel. Too
bad it was in German.
4) Hungarians are not related to the Slavic peoples in the region.
Their language is not similar, either. Traffic signs are impossible
to read - worse than Dutch ones. We have absolutely no clue what
they mean. Anyway, Hungarians are Magyars, from Asia. They were
a horseback Asiatic nomadic (enough adjectives already!) tribe who
conquered large portions of Europe 1100 years ago, until they converted
to Christianity and settled down in Hungary.
5) Lots of people have invaded Budapest. First the Magyars. Then
the Mongols in 1241. Then the Turks in 1526 (Pest) and 1541 (Buda).
The Hapsburgs in 1835, who were thrown out in 1848, and the Soviet
Union in 1956, who were thrown out in 1990.
6) Hungarian music sounds unlike European music. They have some
instrument that resembled a large auto-harp (remember those? I wonder
what happened to them?), mixed with a clarinet, bass, and 2 violins.
It made some "different" sounds.
We will do a bit more exploring in Budapest tomorrow morning, and
then head north through central Slovakia, back to Bratislava for
the night. Then on to the High Tatras for the day, ending up in
Prague for the night.