Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jó reggelt kivánok

First, a few pictures from the Hungarian dinner party since I never managed to get them added to the relevant post…

Now, for the new stuff :-).

I’m living in a city that actually has seasons. This makes me far more excited than it really has any right to. The leaves have been turning colors, the weather has taken a definite turn towards the colder, and there are people selling roasted chestnuts (which are quite tasty incidentally) and hot wine from carts in the parks. The obvious correct response to this is to spend more time walking around outside enjoying the existence of autumn. On Thursday we went for a walk in Nepliget – a beautiful park that manages to forget that it is in the middle of a city. Here are some pictures from that walk:

On Friday, we decided to go for a walk in the evening before dinner (we had had a late lunch), and since it has been getting dark early, we decided that it would be fun to climb Gellért Hegy (a large hill in Buda) to see the view of the city at night. We walked to Deák Tér, got a couple pictures of the sunset and rode the blue metro line to Kalvin Tér. From there we walked across Szabadság Híd (Liberty Bridge) and then up the side of Gellért we had not previously climbed. We have concluded that some afternoon we need to pack a picnic dinner and take blankets and watch the sunset from the top of the hill and stop to play on the giant slide park on the way up (it was a bit dark when we found the slides on Friday). At any rate, the view from the hill is just as stunning at night as it is during the day.

When we decided we were ready for dinner, we walked back to Kalvin Tér in Pest, wandered down Ráday utca and picked a café for dinner. I had hideg gyümöcs leves (cold fruit soup, in this case strawberry) and gulyas with fresh bread. It was wonderful. We have been cooking dinner most nights, but Friday is our night for going out to dinner and most every week we pick some restraunt or cafe on Ráday. With the exception of when we go to the Pink Cadillac (an amazing pizza place), I usually opt for something that is traditional Hungarian.

Saturday, Christina and I headed to Keleti train station to catch the train to Romania to visit my friend Roxana (a MathCamper from Baia Mare, a city in the Transylvania region of Romania). I love the little tunes that the trains play as they are arriving and leaving from the station – they all sound so happy. We took the train from Budapest to Satu Mare and Roxana’s dad picked us up there. When we got to Roxana’s flat, they had bread, a tray with meat and cheese and delicious eggplant salad waiting for us. On Sunday we had breakfast and then went to the village museum with Roxana. It was a really cool outdoor museum with lots of traditional Romanian houses from different time periods. After the museum we stopped at Roxana’s favorite ice cream place (ice cream is good even when it is cold out) and had big bowls of delicious vanilla/chocolate swirl ice cream with huge mounds of amazing fresh whipped cream topped with fudge sauce. It was heavenly. From the ice cream place we went to the mineralogy museum. Baia Mare is Romanian for “large mine” and the region is known for its gold mines and mining in general. The museum had lots of really shiny crystal formations, most of which had come from mines in the region around Baia Mare. I really enjoyed it. Around 2 we went back to her flat for Sunday dinner. The meal started out with the meat and cheese tray, bread, eggplant salad, a plate of tomatoes and crackers. Roxana warned us not to eat too much as there was more food coming – I don’t think either Christina or I realized just how much more food was coming. The next course was soup – on a cold day there are few things tastier than soup. Then her mom brought out a huge platter piled high with mashed potatoes and topped with fried chicken and roast beef (having roast beef and mashed potatoes was exciting, I have not come across anything resembling roast beef in Hungary). Oh, and a plate of what are best described in English as cheese crepes. All of it was wonderfully delicious. After all of this her mom brought out a cake. Her dad runs some sort of delivery service that includes things for bakeries, so they get all sort of free deserts. The cake had two layers of chocolate cake with a rich cream frosting between them and then it was topped with caramel and chocolate decorations. The whole concoction was tasty, but rich enough that I don’t think I could have eaten a larger slice than I was served (and I usually have a very high tolerance for rich foods.

After dinner (which had taken at least two hours) we hung out with Roxana and her family. We played backgammon with her dad and then she and her dad taught us a fun Romanian card game. We played it twice, first with Roxana and her dad and then with her and her brother. Her brother was very entertaining. He knows just enough English slang to be really funny when he tries to use it (which he was doing constantly). For supper, the meat and cheese tray and eggplant salad came out again, this time accompanied by chocolate filled crepes, large mugs of warm fresh milk that her grandmother had sent and muesli (a granola and fruit cereal).

Monday morning Christina and I worked on HW while Roxana’s family was all at school/work. Around 2:30, they came home and we had “lunch” which was just as involved a meal as Sunday dinner, and just as delicious. We went for another walk to see more of the city itself and then came back and looked at pictures Roxana had of things like the chestnut festival and the region at other times of year. It was a fun and relaxing evening. For supper we had pizza and more milk with muesli, followed, of course, by dessert.

The train station at Keleti and pictures taken from the train:

Pictures from the village museum:

Wait...that's not a European license plate... We saw it while walking around in Baia Mare

Her family (minus her mom who was taking the picture) and the cake we had on Sunday

Tuesday morning we caught the train back to Budapest. Overall it was a wonderful trip. Visiting a friend and staying with their family is also definitely a wonderful way to travel. We got a very different view of Romania (and one that is probably much better at portraying it accurately) than we could have gotten visiting it any other way.

Interestingly, the trip also made me realize just how much Hungarian I have learned and how used to Hungary (and Budapest in particular) I have gotten. I could understand and read bits of Romanian because of my Latin background, but I was very aware of the fact that I did not know how to say even simple things like good morning. It was almost disconcerting to see the blue, yellow and red vertical stripes of the Romanian flag everywhere rather than the red, white and green horizontal stripes of the Hungarian flag and when we walked by a bank that had flags from several nations flying I noticed the Hungarian flag before noticing the American flag (which always looks so out of place amongst the European tricolors…). When we were getting the seat reservations (separate from the train ticket, it is an interesting system) for the train back to Budapest I automatically responded “igen”, Hungarian for yes, when the ticket lady asked, in Romanian, if there were two of us. I also never thought it would be so nice to be greeted “Jó reggelt kivánok”, Hungarian for “Good morning,” by the boarder guards when we crossed back over the boarder into Hungary and realized that I actually understood (and not just from the context) when he asked to see our passports and commented that I have the new version of the US passport while Christina’s is older (Speaking of which, I now have several stamps in my passport – it is exciting). It is going to be interesting to see what sorts of little things like these stand out when I come back to the US at the end of the semester.


Roxana said...

Yay! :D It was awesome seeing you!

Eric said...

"Vanilla-chocolate-swirl Ice Cream." "Roastbeef with mashed potatoes". Heehee.

Erika Anneliese said...

I am kind of incredibly jealous... Sounds like so much fun, and you got to see Roxana!