Monday, April 12, 2010

Driving in Hungary

Norm Apr 12,2010. I read a U.S. news item a while back that indicated State , County and local governments in America were considering the increase in traffic fines to help compensate for budget shortfalls. I can tell you Hungary has had this figured out well in advance. This is a cash society and taxation doesn't work well. Not everyone can afford to buy a car and not everyone can afford to drive it if they had one. I have been asked on facebook what my attraction was to the Post Office? It is a beautiful building but that is not the attraction. It is where traffic fines are collected. I am proud to say, I am major contributor to the nation economy in this regard, Throughout the country a plethera of hidden cameras seem to lurk in the ditches, slither from behind road signs, hide in potholes or are comouflaged in cabbage rolls at the roadside stand. All taking pictures of my popular license plate. Soon I get a dear Norm letter sending me to the Post Office to pay my 30,000 forint donation. So if I don't drive and get speeding tickets (by the way, I'm the slowest guy on the highway) I'll save a bucket full of money....right? Wrong, for parking in a no parking zone in front of the branch house for 5 minutes......another 30,000 forint. 30,000 forint equals about $160.00 US. Our girls and boys in blue prowl the streets of Pecs in search of parking victims. They are armed with digital cameras and portable computers, earning their keep and fattening the town coffers.
The more we can keep the car hidden in the basement of our apartment the better. With the numerous little narrow one way streets, it is about a 3 km. drive to church with no place to park when we get there. To walk to church with our shortcuts, it is less than 1 km. and with gas at just under $7.00 a gallon that's a plus.
Otherwise driving in Hungary is pleasant. We have a new freeway that just opened up from Pecs to Budapest with rest stops and service plazas that would rival anything in North America, and I love the round-a-bouts. I also have to compliment the Hungarian drivers as very courteous. They are good on the yield to pedestrians and excellent on merging. I do however withhold any compliments to those driving taxi cabs, BMW's or Audi's. And Hungarian drivers are very friendly....always beeping their horns, flashing their lights and waving...well sort of waving.
You see on the roads just about any model of car you would see in North America plus a few others such as Renault and Citreon. I did see a vintage three wheeled Messersmitt one day as well as a Farrari and a Maserati. Suberbans, Explorers and pick up trucks that we are used to in Wyoming are almost non-existant. The mission car that we drive ( the one that loves to get tickets) is a Scoda Fabia. Quite an adequate little car actually as long as you remember to keep the hills behind you and not let one get in front of you.

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