Unique Cultural Idiosyncrasies:
- Do not clink glasses when drinking beer in Hungary. This is what the Austrian generals of the Hapsburg Empire did in 1849 when they violently quashed the Hungarian independence movement. The Hungarians vowed never to clink glasses for 150 years in memory of that moment, and while the sesquicentennial has recently passed, the bitter memories of this violent repression have not been forgotten
- Hungarians greet and introduce themselves last name first and then first name last
- The average tips for services is 10-20% for taxis, restaurants, etc.
- Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, Hungarians were eager to remove all vestiges of the occupying Soviets, but what to do with all of those statues of Lenin and Stalin? Their solution was to create a Statue-Park, which is on the southern border of the city on the Buda side of the river. It’s kitschy, but fun.
- The Hungarian language is unlike anything you have ever heard or tried to speak. It is neither a romance nor a Slavic language, but at least it’s written using the Roman alphabet. As a result, it is phonetic if you are reading signs. Here are some of the few words to memorize in order to get around:
o EE-gen Yes
o Nem No
o Yo Good
o Ku-su-nem Thank you
o Edge One
o Bore Wine
o Shore Beer
o See-ya See-ya
o Zaam-latt Check (please)
o Veez-latt Bye
o Whole-Von Where is…?
- If you don’t already have international coverage for your cell phone (call your service provider ahead of time to check), I would recommend you rent one as cabs are the easiest way to get around town. Use City Taxi, and from a cell phone dial 06 1 211-1111 or simply 211-1111 from a landline. Don’t flag a cab from the street, as they can over charge you.
The contact number for the American Embassy is 475-4400. FX is about $1/HUF 200. Only change money in banks, but the easiest thing to do is to bring your ATM Card. There are cash machines everywhere. If you have a Citibank account, it's fun to go into Citibank and check out your checking account, which can be viewed in Forints. You will feel very rich!!