Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Arrived in Eger! How I Don't Know

I managed to make it to Eger. I'm staying at the Hotel Senator-Ház somewhere in the city, near the castle. The room is great. Huge and wooden. I got here and they offered me a choice of two rooms. A tiny room up two very winding flights (fun climb with my 800-pound suitcase), overlooking a bar that might be the only noisy spot in Eger, or a giant two-room suite in another building down an alley from the main hotel.

I choose to go big.

I just don't know how I ended up here.

After an afternoon in Győr on the factory tour, I headed across the breadth of Hungary for Eger, the next destination on this tour of Central Europe. I wasn't too far out of Eger when it hit me. I really hadn't gotten much of any sleep last night. Once again I questioned my appalling lack of judgment.

I was already dog-tired and I had a three-hour (or so) drive across a foreign country. I stopped at a McDonald's -- they have those upscle McCfe's here in Hungary, too -- and loaded myself up with diet Coke, or as the native say, "Coca Cola Light." It helped some. When I hit the beltway around Budapest, the M-Zero, it was under construction. Two narrow lanes. No shoulder. Lots of trucks singularly uninterested in lane integrity. Once again, I questioned my appalling lack of judgment.

I finally got to the actually-constructed M-3, chugged down that road and saw the exit sign for Eger. Eger is not just off the freeway. It's another 20 to 30 minutes north of the exit. Luckily it was well-marked. Until I hit Eger city limits. I stopped at a gas station to ask for directions. Yes, real men do that, but only in foreign countries. Of course, the fact that there is not a ready supply of English-language speakers in rural Hungary was a bit of setback. I questioned my appalling lack of judgment.

I showed the women at the station at a small map of Eger from my Rough Guide, pointed out the location of the Senator-Ház, and made a gesture denoting confusion. They somehw figured out I needed a larger map, which they had one hanging in the station. I was able to see that I was still a little south of the downtown, I had to turn right at a street named Deák Ferenc, which was actually easy to remember because that's the same name as the square in Budapest where all three subway lines meet. And I had turn right off Deák Ferenc when it ended onto Kossuth utca. This too would be easy to remember because precisely 50 percent of all streets in Hungary are named Kossuth. This would be easy because I would only need to follow Kossuth until it crossed a river, and then I would turn left at the very first street after the river, which I would then follow to its end and there would be the Senator-Ház. So simple. What possibly could go wrong!

Well, the fact that Kossuth turned into a one-way street heading in the opposite direction from the river. That's what could go wrong. Again, my thoughts turned to my appalling lack of judgment, thinking that I could find a small hotel, down a small alley, after dark, in a foreign country where I barely know how to say "thank you" in the native tongue. (By the way, it's "köszönöm, pronounced for some reason as if there are r's after the vowel in the first two syllables.

Except, bizarrely, I actually found the hotel with no problem. I turned left onto a street that I could see on the map would dead-end into Kossuth utca, made an immediate right down the narrow one-lane alley (presuming there were no cars coming the other direction) and, sure enough, at the end of the alley, I saw "hotel" and then I saw "Senator-Ház." What I did not see was parking. So I did the European thing of just parking the car where I stopped, got out and went into the hotel. I asked where I should park and someone who worked there (I think) volunteered to park my car for me. So I let him.

So I have no clue where the Mercedes is as I type this. Thank God it's an A-class.

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