This story didn’t surprise me: confusing Bucharest with Budapest is apparently one of the most common mistakes made by Brits when booking travel ‘abroad.’ After all, Britain (England especially) remains a place where vast swathes of the population think the world consists of just two countries: England and Abroad. A member of my extended family once asked me, on hearing me talk on the phone in somewhat halting Italian:
‘Do you you speak a bit of Foreign then.’
‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I speak a bit of Foreign.’
Foreign of course is the language they speak Abroad.
The Bucharest/Budapest conundrum of course is not a new one. The great, the good and the cleared of all charges of child abuse have all famously made the same mistake. As recently did someone who paid rather a large amount of money to correct the mistake.
Of course, the cruel will say that turning up in Bucharest and seeing the Dambovita when you’re expecting Budapest and he Danube is a mistake you quickly realise. Yet to compare the two cities is both pointless and unfair.
Budapest may sound a bit like Bucharest but it is one of Europe’s great, majestic, imperial cities. Bucharest is the capital of Romania. They may only be three letters apart, but if orthography is a sound criteria then Mamaia and Miami should look about the same.