Yesterday morning as I was sitting and waiting for the bus an elderly Hungarian lady came and sat down on the bench next to me. She noted that the weather was beautiful and I smiled and agreed. Then she asked me something that I could not quite figure out... I explained that I only know a little Hungarian. She smiled, nodded and then talked to me using very simple Hungarian. Sometimes she would have to reword things, but there was only one question that I never managed to figure out! Even better, I knew enough Hungarian to answer her questions - my grammar was far from perfect and I did not always use complete sentences, but I could make myself understood. They were simple things, like where I was from and where in Budapest my classes are, but I understood the questions and new how to answer them! Also, I apparently do not have a strong American accent in my broken Hungarian - she asked me if I was German and was genuinely surprised when I explained that I was American. Her stop was before mine and as she got off I wished her "szep napot" - have a beautiful day - and she smiled and waved from the stop as the bus pulled away. I think it made both of our days :-)
Sunday Christina and I tracked down a small Anglican congregation whose service is in English. Their sanctuary looks like it was adapted from the same sort of wine cellar as the bar we went to to listen to live Hungarian music. Their priest was in Austria at some sort of meeting, so they were planning to have a basic morning prayer service but there was a priest who just happened to be visiting from England, so they ended up having a normal service after all. There were only about 20 people there and the 'sanctuary' could not have held more than twice that, but everyone was very friendly and it was really nice to actually understand everything. I also really enjoyed the number of different accents :-) Everyone spoke English, but we were still from all over the world. We will probably go back there frequently, though it is also nice to visit the gorgeous churches that are all over Budapest.
In Budapest there is a phenomenon known as a tanchaz - as best as I can figure out, a tanchaz (literally "dance house") is like a contra dance but with traditional Hungarian Dancing. This past Saturday was the tanchaz ball where all of the different teachers and bands and dancers came together starting at 8pm and there was supposed to be dancing until 5 am. Christina, Chelsey and I decided to check it out. We got there around 8 and discovered that there were 3 different rooms with different kinds of dances in each room and the dancing in any given room changed every half hour or so as teachers familiar with the dances from different regions switched out. We tried dancing some, but my feet and ankles are not cut out for that kind of intense foot work (I realized that part of why I like contra is that the emphasis is not on footwork). Chelsey and Christina were much better. I really enjoyed watching and listening to the live music though. The boot slapping dances that the men do are especially impressive. We left around 10:30 so that we could catch the metro home, but it was definitely a lot of fun :-)
Erzebet Tér has been invaded by cows. Here are a few of the more interesting ones:
And this one even had flies
Last Thursday Christina, Kyle and I climbed Gellert Hill - a hill taller than the one the castle is on and that houses the citadel. It has gorgeous views of the entire city. It also has a pretty garden and a simple playground consisting of swings and concrete dinosaurs. Other than that words really are not useful, so here are pictures
The castle in Buda