If the loaf of bread is from a grocery store that’s but two blocks away, then the cost is tickets for two on a trolley bus and two more for two separate subway lines, not to mention the price of the loaf itself.
Is that the only way to get to the store?
It is if you just turned five years old and your dad knows, on this father/son outing, that getting from A to B is not the priority.
With the biggest of grins and the curliest of hair that is observable to the cashier only because he stands and peers down from his rather lofty perch, you proudly present the paper upon which dad has written in Hungarian – from his handy book of translations – what type of ticket you want to buy.
With a matching smile accompanied by unintelligible words, the cashier takes the paper you handed him.
Five years ago, you, yourself, were handed at birth – curly-headed even then – to the mom and dad who’d adopted you even before you were born.
“Oh, the Places you’ll Go” – Budapest among them – could hardly have been imagined even by Dr. Seuss, let alone anyone gathered in the hospital room that day!
But here you are, your very own ticket in one hand, dad’s hand in the other, standing before the orange coloured ticket validation machine on the metal pole.
You check to see that this particular machine is not clogged with chewing gum which, according to the website for traveling about Budapest, is “deliberately done by prank makers.”
If there were no other reason than to hear the short musical tone that confirms your ticket has been validated (“validation is required before the start of your journey”) – the stamped time and date of your prized paper now in your possession later to be plastered with all the others in your scrapbook – the pleasant musical confirmation your trip with dad is about to begin would be enough.
But there’s more. Much more.
Next it’s ”the escalator that takes you to the metro platform where you wait for the metro car.” There the ticket inspector – sometimes in a blue uniform, sometimes in plain clothes, but always with the official red armband – approaches, smiles, asks kindly (dad translating) to see that you’ve validated your ticket.
Maybe he also asks, with dad’s help, where you are going?
Given you’ll be transferring from the trolley to the subway to yet another subway, dad reminds you – since you won’t relinquish your ticket – to be sure not to lose it since you’ll need the ticket until the end of your journey.
No problem there. You’re so excited the ticket is safely hidden – albeit slightly crumpled – in a closed fist. For the scrapbook you can smooth it out later.
It’s true, you could have taken the tram along the Danube Promenade, “one of the city’s most scenic routes,” but this is not a sightseeing tour of the river’s “graceful bridges” – Liberty, Erzsébet and Cain among them.
Neither is it about Gellert Hill, Castle Hill or the Parliament. They’re cool but what are really cool are the wheels on this trolley that go round and round.
What’s spectacular about this trip is the electrical connection the trolley makes with the wires overhead that somehow make this thing move.
Riding the trolley (trolleys are red); sitting – especially near the front – on the not one but two subways (subways are green); or, if you have to, taking the bus which is too-often crowded, too often stuck in traffic (busses are blue), is what five-year-olds live for.
And to think, as you most certainly do, that all public transportation in Budapest is color-coded just for kids!
So why does this grocery store that’s but two blocks away, require over an hour to get there just to purchase a loaf of bread?
Because it was never about the bread.
A father/son life-long outing is not about the destination.
It’s about the journey.
It always is.