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Message From Europe, The Sixth:

Well, we finally did it.

We had no choice. We had a train to catch. We needed to eat. It was Sunday in Budapest, and everyplace more respectable was closed.

We ate at McDonalds.

It was, well, McDonalds. Mariann felt that the coating on the McNuggets was a bit better than in the states. Jeff felt that his Quarter Pounder was a touch on the salty side. But, all in all, it was the same place.

They didn't have McGoulash or McPaprikas, or anything like that. Instead, they had a line of (brace yourselves) Chinese food. The idea of going to Hungary to get Chinese food from a McDonalds has a certain elegant appeal. The Chinese dishes were called, we kid you not, McFu. We can only assume that a line of McDonalds Japanese food called McNip is just around the corner.

We have been staying with Mariann's family in a charming town called Harkany, somewhere in the back of beyond. There are lots of charming views and German tourists. Also, the town is a mere 2 km from the Croatian border. That mean that you can meet actual smugglers at the local flea market. Mariann's Uncle Gabor is tight with the local smuggling community.

Bosnia. We've had a complete breakdown of the Rule of Law, and we're passing the savings on to you!

We have also had extensive run-ins with Soviet-era Russian towels. The theory behind them seems to be this: The Hungarians consider the towel to represent the bourgeoisie, the body to represent the proletariat, and the water on the body to represent the means of production.

In the USA, or a similar decadent country, the bourgeoisie eagerly strips the means of production away from the proletariat. However, in an enlightened country like Hungary, the bourgeoisie can pass by again and again, but it will be unable to take away only a fraction of the means of production. The end result of all of this is generally that the proletariat ends up wiping off most of the means of production with the previous day's shirt.

As expected, Mariann's relatives have been a limitless fount of stories about the suffering of the Hungarian people. The tale goes something like this:

Around 700 years ago, Hungary won a war. It's been downhill from there.

We are writing this during a layover in Heathrow airport. We are tired and cranky, but we're ready to come home. Final thoughts will follow, assuming that our plane doesn't have to have an emergency, cannibalism- inducing landing in Greenland.

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