Travel Journal

Jo napot!

(Wednesday 29 October 2014) by Mariken
Having fun in Bratislava
Having fun in Bratislava
We are in Hungary, and boy, is there a language barrier! In the touristy areas I can get by with my rather limited knowledge of German*, but other things - the most common things like grocery shopping - are extremely hard. I really need to learn Hungarian. Two days ago I bought a huge bag of paprikas to make my own interpretation of goulash, only what I had thought to be mild, semi-sweet paprikas turned out to be scorching hot peppers. Some internet research taught me that apparently there are eight varieties of paprika with 'eros' being the hottest one. Fitting name, like a burning passion. I checked the label on the bag and yes, there it was: hegyes eros paprika. Oops. And yesterday I went scouting for a supermarket. There was one signposted but the only thing I saw was a building with a huge sign reading 'vegyesbolt' above the door. I kept looking, walked through the village a second time, consulted the map again but no, there was nothing else. Only this 'vegyesbolt'.** Turns out that that was the supermarket. I felt like a prize idiot for the second time in as many days. To my defence I can say that the exterior did not resemble a supermarket at all. It looked more like a shack, and not even a large one at that. When I - after some hesitation - peeked inside, it turned out that the interior resembled a supermarket even less. Two frumpy cartons of milk and a sad looking bag of pasta. And an even sadder looking shop assistant, who nevertheless greeted me enthusiastically (I was probably the first customer that day), in a stream of fluent Hungarian of course. To which I could only say 'Jo napot' and 'Auf Wiedersehen' while fleeing from the store, leaving the stock as it was. Probably I should go back to the TESCO in a nearby village, where the labels on the cans are sometimes in English (the ones containing baked beans at least, yuck).

Apart from our linguistic struggles, we are enjoying a rather quiet and uneventful life at the moment in Hungary. The first thing we did when we entered the country, after having stayed almost a week in Bratislava, was looking for a quiet place with a comfy bed to crash for a few days. Because of the Bratislava Snorer (it was so bad, I was afraid the guy was going to choke in his own snoring!) I spent three nights more or less sleepless in my rickety dorm bed, so I needed matchsticks to keep my eyes open. :-O Fortunately we found a really good place and the first night in Hungary we slept around the clock. The next day I sent an email to the owner begging him to extend our stay. I had to do so in German, since that is the lingua franca of tourism in Hungary, and although I am really proud that I managed, I am not going to quote what I actually wrote, since some of my friends are fluent in German and having my linguistic ass kicked on a daily basis in situ is enough. No need to extend my embarrassment over the internet. Fortunately, my crappy German turned out to be both clear and polite enough, because our stay was extended with two days, so we will not leave before Friday. And in the meantime I will do absolutely nothing, apart from sleeping and reading a lot of books. Relax max, this place even has a bath tub. No more dorms for me, at least not before I have bought a set of ear plugs.

Devin Castle
Devin Castle
And what about my own interpretation of goulash? Well, I used Slovakian sausage and a can of tomatoes with garlic bought at the TESCO (the image on the can was self-explanatory) and because of the paprika mess-up it was a little spicy, but we survived. A true Hungarian might not call it goulash, but since I can not understand what a true Hungarian is telling me anyhow, I don't really care. Dinner was good that evening and that's what counts. :-D

* Jacco and I are currently having a discussion about how limited my knowledge of German really is, he says my modesty is false. I, however, know how fluent fluent is and my thought on the matter is that I still have a lot to learn. On that point he does not disagree, but well... you get the gist of it.

** Obviously, I could not sleep until I had learned the 'deeper' meaning of the word 'vegyesbolt'. So I turned to various online dictionaries to enlighten me. However, most of them did not recognize this word. I did learn that 'bolt' means 'shop', which makes sense to me. Well, actually not, considering the state of the 'shop', but well, let's not be too picky. 'Vegyes', however, is not that easy to translate. It has tons of meanings, depending on the word you combine it with, apparently. What I gathered was that in combination with the word 'bolt', you would get something like 'general store', or what we would call in Dutch, a alleswinkel. Both translations strike me as quite odd though, considering that generally speaking they had nothing. But again, let's not be too picky. I went to the TESCO in Zirc.

  • German language skills by Marije
  • Schatzi by Bibiche
    • Liebchen by Mariken
  • heerlijk .... by Ilse

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