Postcard from Budapest, Hungary: Bittersweet reflections from window-shopping

We’re not much on shopping. We return from trips with nothing new aside from calories consumed.

But we appreciate the efforts shopkeepers make to entice us to enter.

We bought no teapots or fine porcelain in Budapest. We added no snazzy men’s shorts, furry hats, Chucks, Sergeant-Pepper-worthy jackets, funky used clothing or Gucci doggie sweaters to our wardrobes. We felt no need for war “nostalgia” and ate such ample lunches neither a plate of rainbow-colored macarons or the stunning architecture of the New York Café could tempt us with sweets.

We flunked the frugality test when it came to coffee.

The apartment we rented came equipped with a Nespresso machine. I have no complaints about the quality of the coffee. It is pretty close to perfect.

But Nespresso manages patent law effectively to prevent much interference from competitors imitating their jewel-toned, diamond-cut capsules.

With no opportunity for ordering by mail when traveling, we were forced to seek out Nespresso storefronts staffed by black-suit-wearing, model-perfect young men and women with command of numerous foreign languages.

Okay, a limited command. But we were in his country. “Less bitter” to describe the coffee I wanted left him totally befuddled. He kept on repeating my request as “less better.” I don’t think anyone ever had requested capsules that were “less better” before.

We finally negotiated a less bitter score and made a $60 purchase we hoped would take us through the month. It did not quite make it. Even that amount required a supplemental coffee allocation.

It’s a necessity, right?

Window-shopping is certainly a less expensive hobby.

Hey, what the hell can one expect from a company that has George Clooney for window-dressing?


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