05/21/2010 - 05/26/2010 75 °F
Hold on... I need to catch my breath!
I've been running so much since my last entry that I can't even remember what I've been doing! That fact is probably going to make the writing of this post rather difficult, but I will try my best. Now.. where did I leave off?
Oh yes, I had ripped a hole in my jeans and mastered public transit. Got it.
During the week life is rather dull: I get up every morning and go to class at ten. I get out of class at 12:30, go to that crowded market where I ripped my jeans and almost purposefully punched an old lady to eat lunch, and run back to the school for class from 2:30 to 5:30. By the time I get home I'm exhausted both physically and mentally, so I usually stay in and do homework, or we all pick a restaurant from our tour books and have an authentic Hungarian meal. I think it is safe to say that I have a very thorough understanding of their cuisine.
Fortunately, Monday was a Hungarian holiday, so we got a long weekend. Unfortunately, BJ packed it tight with activities and tourist attractions. The weekend started off on Friday after class. We all came back to the apartments, freshened up, and scampered off to a lovely little dinner downtown. I had chicken paprika and it was all right, but we had better at other restaurants. Then we basically just came back and relaxed because we knew Saturday was going to be a long day.
Saturday morning we headed out around ten for the Budapest Zoo. Now, I didn't particularly want to go to the zoo because I felt like I was, in a sense, wasting my time. There are like three different zoo's in Ohio that I can choose from, and the animals they have here are the same ones at home, but whatever. It's what everyone else wanted to do, and it was really cheap. I found ways to keep myself entertained. It was actually pretty cool at some parts. For instance, in U.S. zoos, giraffes and such are kept in enclosures that are far enough away from visitors that you can't touch them or anything. Well here, they don't seem to give a damn what you feed the animals because the giraffes were just hanging their heads out over the crowd and you could pet and feed them if you pushed your way close enough. I did. Totally worth it. Didn't get a picture, though, which is kind of a shame. Oh ya, I did have another lovely experience with the public restrooms. Maybe I'll get it right one of these days. In some bathrooms, the toilet paper is out by the sinks, and you have to grab it before you go into the stalls. Learned THAT lesson the hard way. Also walked in on a lady and her daughter. Awkward mostly because I couldn't even apologize because I don't know how to say "Oh, crap lady, I'm sorry. If you would kindly lock the door to your stall like everyone else on the planet, I wouldn't have walked in on you and your child mid-zip" in Hungarian. They were also out of soap. I became a bit cranky by that point. I hadn't eaten in hours, and my new TOMS were splattered with animal droppings. (Ok, not really. I just added that for effect). But I was still ready to leave.
By the way, Mother, you would be so proud of me. I faithfully carry my little Purell bottle everywhere I go, and I made everyone sanitize their hands after touching the animals and using the restroom. There is no questions that I am your daughter.
After leaving the zoo, we stopped across the street to grab some grub. I had a gyro that was probably really good, but I wolfed it down so fast I don't think I would have even noticed if it had tasted like poop. We hopped onto the metro and came back to the apartment, only to freshen up and head back out again to conquer the biggest mall I have ever seen in my life. Just walking in the front door was overwhelming. Well, actually, we accidentally walked into this crappy department store at first, thinking it was attached to the mall, but we were completely wrong and looked like idiots searching for a mall that was literally the size of a small mountain. Eventually, we found it, and split up to look for the stuff we wanted. I was very proud of myself. I don't speak a lick of Hungarian, but I made my purchases and navigated through the huge building without a single mishap. Being abroad is helping gain a strong sense of independence (not that I was particularly lacking in that area before...), but I am loving every minute of it.
Sunday and Monday were filled with activities that were tiring but interesting. Actually, Monday's were interesting. Sunday sucked. We took a metro to a train and then a train to a bus to get to a little historical center called Skanzen. About 15 years ago, the Hungarians began to disasemble old buildings and such from all of the different regions of Hungary, take them to Skanzen, and reasemble them there, so that way you can walk around for a few hours and get a taste of the history of every region of the country. In theory, awesome. In reality, terrible. The few signs they had that were meant to explain the many buildings, houses, and windmills were all in Hungarian, so we essentially wandered around for a few hours eating and drinking because we didn't know what else to do. The food was really good, so I was failry content staying there, but the rest of the group was ready to leave within an hour. They pretty much stayed put in the shade of a sapling, but I wasn't ready to just sit there. BJ, Rachel, and I walked around for maybe two hours and ate, and I got some really pretty photos of the hills that surrounded the mini (and more boring) Epcot. Once we'd had our fill of Hungarian history for the day, we hitched a ride to the train on the bus, then took the train back to the metro, and then walked two blocks home. On the way home, I was beat to say the least. We live right neat the opera building of Budapest, and everyone went inside to take a quick peek. Well, at that moment, I was thinking "the hell with this. I want food and a nap NOW." So I didn't go in and walked home instead. Mistake. They all bought tickets to the opera, which I was unaware of, so now everyone is going to the Hungarian opera tonight and I don't have a ticket. Boo. I might try to get a ticket today, but if the box office is closed I will just stay in and do homework. I have loads that must be finished before we leave Hungary Saturday morning. I'll let you know what happens.
So anyway... back to Sunday. No wait. Sunday's over. Monday. Monday was a great day, but it was incredibly tiring. BJ rented a bus/giant van for us to take to Esztergom and Visegrad. They are both about an hour's ride out of Budapest, right by the Slovakian border. BJ hired a tour guide of Hungary to accompany us on our excursion, and he was an educated man probably in his 70s. He spoke Hungarian and very good English with a thick accent. His name was Gabor (pronounced Gaah-boar), and I swear the man knew ANYTHING you ever wanted to know about the history of Hungary. It was very cool that he was able to explain every little thing to us, but exhausting at the same time. We arrived at Esztergom and walked up a hill to go inside a large old church. I honestly can't tell you a thing about it. It was old and pretty. You'll just have to take my word for it. Gabor crammed so much history in my head in the few hours he was with us that I don't remember a single thing.
After exploring a little, we hopped back on the Mercedes-Benz bus (apparently that is no big deal here) and headed to Esztergom to see the ancient castle. I took some beautiful photos which can be seen in the photos section of this site. I just uploaded them! The views were absolutely breathtaking, and I loved climbing around the old ruins. Once we had our fill of culture and history, the bus took us back to Budapest and we went out for gelato at a cute little place down the street from us. It was a long but very pleasant day.
I've been writing this post over the course of three days, so everytime I take a break, something new happens, and I feel the need to post it. SO, I'll bring you up to speed on today and then I'm stopping for the sake of my own sanity.
I had finance this morning for over three hours and wanted to shoot myself.
After class, we all crossed over to the Buda side of Budapest (the city was once two cities, Buda and Pest, that were separated by the Danube River. Now they are combined to make Budapest. Oh, another little lesson for you: in Hungarian, "S" is actually pronounced "SH"; therefore, Budapest is actually pronounced Budapesht. If you want to be official.) Anywho, we walked across a lovely old bridge that was designed by a Scotsman named Adam Clark (don't know why I know that) and arrived at the bottom of Castle Hill. I do not know why it is called Castle Hill because a palace, not a castle, sits on top of it. Silly Hungarians and their translation errors. We took a bus up the hill and saw a church and some statues and finally we ate lunch in an outdoor cafe that was situated on the side of the hill below the palace (not castle) so you could look out over the Danube. It was delish but kinda on the pricey side.
On our way home, we stopped into St. Stephen's Basilica and checked that out. Enough said. And now, FINALLY, I'm home and in for the night. I was unable to get a ticket for the opera; however, I am kind of glad because I'm exhuasted, not in the mood to get dressed up, and I have loads of homework to do before out Saturday departure.
Well, I think this message has reached it's end. I don't think I've left any details out, and, if so, it doesn't really matter because you all wouldn't know the difference anyway. Ha ha!
Until next time!