If It Can Cheer Up Karloff . . .

. . . it ought to be working wonders on a soul decidedly less gloomy than your average Karloffian antihero. A trip to Budapest, that is. It has been eleven months since last we took in the sites of the Hungarian capital. Granted, highlights included visits to awe-inspiring Statue Park and the downright dispiriting Terror House, outings for which my catchings-up with pop-acculturated Hungarians like glamorous Zsa Zsa Gabor and dashing Cornel Wilde or the radio experiments of Val Gielgud in said locale had left me thoroughly unprepared. Unexpected, too, were our encounters with FDR, Scarlett O’Hara, and assorted automata (Kempelen’s famed Turk among them).

William Henry Pratt (or Karloff, to call him by the assumed name that would become a typecasting trap) may not be a widely trusted authority on mirth, merriment or gender orientation; nor is old Hollywood with its backlot scenes and cultural insensitivities necessarily a reliable travel agent. Still, his character’s insistence that “It’s gay there,” which I heard again a few weeks ago in The Black Room (1935), is sure getting me in the mood for another Danubian interlude.

Of all the European city tours I have taken since my relocation from the United States to Wales—Madrid, Istanbul, and Prague among them—our week in Budapest has remained a delight as yet unsurpassed (the well-chosen dark spots on the schedule notwithstanding). Our nights at the opera alone were worth the inconveniences of budget air travel. My recent computer crashes have erased many of my holiday snapshots; so I am all the more eager to retrace my steps. Not that I expect to be walking around town in shorts and shirtsleeves this time around (apparently, a mere four weeks, from mid-March to mid-April, make all the difference). I won’t blame either Buda or Pest if it turns out that, to reverse an adage, you can’t go abroad again.

Not prepared to keep up with the out-of-date while abroad, the ‘castellan shuts up the keep, which will reopen upon his return.

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