Thursday, September 18, 2008

Don't Read This Crap Entry

Unfortunately I don't have pictures today because I'm not on my own personal computer. But I do have stories! Wait. No. Those are what I make on the weekends. Maybe I have random pieces of information or points of interest. Yeah. I like that... Tales of Interest. Sajnos, I don't have anything that is coherent. OOOOOO! But I did for the first time insert a Hungarian word into my English without thinking about it. Hoooooray! I feel like I need to put down a story now that all I have done is ramble..

So while I buy more time to think of a story how about some vocabulary?

Sajnos (pronounced shy-no-sh) = unfortunately

That's about enough for the day. It's hard to think of words that don't have accents and it's a pain to copy and paste the individual letters from Wikipedia (I'm using an American keyboard).

On to my tales of interest.
On Tuesday Claire (super cool roommate) and I were on a quest. Our quest was to find a posta to buy revenue stamps. We first tried the posta directely across the street from us. Turns out, all you can do at that place is pick up packages. They mimed for us to go to Keleti Train Station. We walked the 3 blocks there and couldn't find it. So I went to the lower level and found a place that sells kávé for 95 forint. 95 forint! Might I remind you that the exchange right is 1:170. So that's $.56 for an espresso. Then yesterday I found a place 2 blocks away from my apartment that sells it for 90 forint and it's slightly better quality $.53 for an espresso. My day was greatly improved.

This was a crap entry. I should just delete it. But I already wrote it all so deal with it. I'll never write another entry when I don't have anything to say or any pictures to post

I think I'll go walk around a castle (vár) now.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Some Say it's the Journey and Not the Destination, But They've Never Spent the Night in a Croatian Border Patrol Station

For the weekend we decided we wanted to get out of the city and travel. We settled on the beaches of Croatia because we knew we wouldn't want to go there when it got cold. Also, when the tourist season is over, the country pretty much shuts down. First, let me just remind you that Croatia is the only country bordering Hungary that is not in the EU. Meaning, that they are pretty strict about their borders.

We chose to be adventurous for this trip. It's out first time 'traveling' so we bought train tickets that would force us to sleep overnight in the Zagreb train station. Our train left Budapest at 5pm. Chelsea and Danielle left their apartment at 4:15 putting us in the ticket line at 4:30. One lady took fooooreeeevvveeerrr so we finally got our tickets at 4:49. We then asked the ticket checker what train was ours, she said platform 12.. which is on the other side of the stations. We ran. We got on the train at 4:53. That same lady then finds us on the train to tell us that it's actually platform 6... on the other side of the station. We ran faster. We finally get onto the right train at 4:58. We made it. It would have been better had we missed it.

That's Chelsea above, look at how happy she is. We're passing Lake Balaton and it's beautiful. When we sat down on the train we were sitting next to another guy. She kept asking us if we should tell him that there's another seat open just right behind us so that he doesn't have to be crowded by a bunch of soon to be drunk American girls. Then I look over at what he's reading and look up at Chelsea. She mouths "Is that in English?" Yes. So she asks him "Where are you studying?" He answers in a delicious Irish accent that he's getting his post-doc in Nationalism at CEU. Figures that the one person we sit next to speaks English.

We finally reach the border of Hungary and they do their passport checking, etc. Chelsea and I give them ours. Then Danielle, oh sweet Danielle hands them a copy of her passport. At this point, our Irishman turns to us and says that Croatia is the one place where you need an actual passport since it's not in the EU, we should try Slovenia. Thanks Buddy for telling us that now. The Border Patrol then takes our Passports and kicks us off the train. We spent the night in the room pictured below.

It wasn't a total loss. We have a great story now about how we were stupid Americans once who thought a copy would pass. During the night, while I slept, Chelsea and Danielle came up with a great epic poem about our adventures which is where the title of this blog is excerpted from. Chelsea also got a kiss from a ridiculously drunk homeless man.

Before I took my nap in the waiting room we had all decided that we would not accept defeat and return to Budapest. But then we realized that we had to go back through the city because that's where all the trains went. The Border Patrol was also going to call us a cab so we could return to the city until we absolutely refused to take a cab for a distance of 4 hours and promised to take the morning train. The plan was to either refuel at my apartment or just get another ticket to Vienna (3 hours from Budapest) or Bratislava (2.5 hours). When I woke up Chelsea accepted defeat. The new plan was to sleep for eleventy thousand hours and get really drunk to forget all our troubles. The plan worked well. We ended up going to a club in Mammut Mall and went to bed after 4am, it was a good time.

This is our 5:13 morning train back to Budapest. I asked the girls to show me how they felt.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Beginning?... I Guess

The picture to the left is of the Pest side. The building in the center is parliament. It was built during a time when Hungary was 3 times the size it is today. The next picture is of the Buda side. The largest building there is of the castle. The last picture is a close up of what I believe is St Matthew's Cathedral.

This is the most beautiful city I have ever been in. The Hungarians are a bit strange. They will do anything to escape paying taxes. Now I know, you're probably thinking that everyone is like that but these people created new floor names to escape a luxury tax. Not too long ago there was a tax on all properties that were over 5 stories high. Most of the buildings in Pest are 7 stories by American standards. The first floor is called Ground Floor, then First Floor, then Floor 1, 2, .... 5. I live on floor 3 which is actually floor 4... in America. Not every building has a First Floor but every one that I have seen has a Ground Floor.

I've been here about a week and a half now and since I've arrived, I've climbed to the top of Buda hill to the Citadel 3 times and taken a tour bus once. It gives you a great view of the city and every time I go I try to make myself sentimental to make it actually hit me that I am here. What I find amusing is that it hits me more when I think about the time difference. All I have to do to figure out what time it is back home is jump 12 hours ahead then add three hours. It gives a pretty good idea that I am half a world away. Like right now, it's 2:30 in the afternoon here and in Sacramento it's 5:30 in the morning.

Sometimes I'm amazed how far pointing will get you. I don't know the words for basically any food so I've been choosing what to eat based on where there is no crowd and what is easy to point to. Although I do know how to ask for a cup of coffee (kerek egy kave (minus a few diacritics)). Another thing that is great about this place is how cheap certain things are. The coffee at most non-tourist places ranges between 130-180 forint. That's about $1. Wine is szuper cheap at around 280-500 forint, $1.75-$4, and it's gooooood wine. They also have a delicious candy here that is cottage cheese coated in dark chocolate. Sounds gross but it's not like cottage cheese in the US, it's actually good and drier. I'll miss it when I'm gone because it's not really sold outside of Hungary.

My apartment is gigantic. It was built in the late 19th century and it's right next to City Park, which is right next to Hero's Square, two museums, the Sechennyi Baths, a zoo, and an amusement park. But all of those are on the opposite side of the park. I love where I live because it's on the farther side of Pest and my school is in Buda so I get to explore everything in between. Essentially it rocks.