Being a Pest about Budapest

300px-Bratislava_viewI have a one-a-day “Jeopardy!” calendar. Today’s question — I’m sorry, “answer” –is exactly the kind of thing I live for: something where you could conceivably give a different answer (sorry, “question”) and argue ad nauseam about why it’s right.

The category was “Geography ‘B'”. (HAHA GET IT) In other words, all the answers are going to start with the letter “B”.

So, here’s the question:

“This city that straddles the Danube was once called the ‘Queen of the Danube'”

Wanna think about it for a second? I’ll give you a moment …


OK, so, the answer they wanted was Budapest. (Sorry, “What is Budapest?”) But here’s the thing: Bratislava is
also a city whose name starts with “B” and occupies both banks of the Danube.

The question only imposes three criteria on the answer: 1) the city’s name must start with a “B”, 2) the city has to be on both banks of the Danube, and 3) someone has to have called the city “the Queen of the Danube”. Bratislava clearly satisfies the first two. So what about the third?

Now, you could argue that the fact that there is a hotel, and a river cruise ship, in Budapest, each of which is called “the Queen of the Danube” shows that Budapest simply has to be the one and only city that was ever called that. And the top ten hits on Google for the phrase bring up Budapest. An open and shut case, right?

Not so fast. First of all, a “poetic alias” like “the Paris of the East” has been used for every city from Beirut to Shanghai (and also Budapest). So clearly they get reused.

Secondly, the question doesn’t ask for the Danubian city that has been called “the Queen of the Danube” most often. It’s sufficient for it to have been called “the Queen of the Danube” just once. And hell, I’ll be happy to do the honors myself: Bratislava, truly, you are the Queen of the Danube.

Ah, but I hadn’t done that at the time the question was written, you say? Well, how do you know? Can you prove it? I’m sure I can conveniently find some scrap of yellowed paper to back up my claim…

But if that’s not enough, well this is where I’d bust out some 17th-century text in Slovakian praising Bratislava as the Queen of the Danube, and say, “But Alex, clearly the Slovakians felt very strongly that it was their metropolis that was the Queen of the Danube,” thereby sending Trebek and the off-screen panel of judges into feverish deliberations, replete with mutterings of “The sheer impudence –!!” and “He’s got us dead to rights, you know.”

Alas, I still need that text. So if you have one, please let me know, and I’ll go pick that fight pronto.

P.S. To say nothing of the argument that Budapest is two cities (or even three), not one!!!
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