There are somethings that are present everywhere in the US, some of them are just as prevalent here...one of these things is road construction
I had another conversation with an old Hungarian woman on the bus. This one started when she commented on the fact that the plants by the bus stop that are usually just greenery suddenly had little flowers. I understood just enough words that with her gesturing I knew what she was talking about. She asked if I knew what kind of flowers they were. I responded that I did not. My "nem tudom" must have sounded less that confident because she then asked "Magyarul?", I responded "Tudom kiscit magyarul." She pondered this for a second and then asked if I was from Slovakia. When I responded "nem" she asked if I was from Romania before I could add that I was American. When I told her I was American she looked shocked. She asked if I was visiting a sibling here, and I responded that no, I am just here to study. She asked what I am studying and when I responded math she told me that she has a sibling who does math and physics. These conversations are nothing very deep, but it is nice to know that I can at least understand and answer basic questions.
One day last week Christina, Kyle and I went to a gyros place for lunch. Incidentally, there are as many gyros places here as there are burger places in the US. I have to admit that the gyros are better than fast food hamburgers though... Anyway, I mentioned this because while we were eating Kyle suddenly sat up alert and asked incredulously "Is that...csipp csepp...?" We listened for a minute, and sure enough, the music playing in the gyros shop seemed to be a techno-remix of the Csipp Csepp song. This would be roughly the equivalent of a techno remix of the eensie weensie spider playing at a fast food place. It was interesting to say the least.
Friday night a group of us decided to go to a classical concert at the Palace of the Arts. The concert hall is incredible. We were sitting in the very last row of the top balcony and could still hear everything perfectly. The only thing that was at all out of balance was the organ, and even that was not badly out of balance. We also experienced an interesting cultural phenomenon. After the last scheduled piece in the concert, the applause did not die down and instead everyone started clapping in unison, apparently calling for an encore. This happened 3 times! None of us had ever seen anything like it and it was all we could do not to burst out laughing when it happened the third time. It makes me wonder if this is normal here.
Here is the view from where we were sitting
and the outside of the Palace of the Arts
On Saturday, Christina, Bridget, Leslie and I took a train out to Lake Balaton and a thermal spring that is near it. It was amazing to get out of the city. I am enjoying Budapest immensely, but I really don't think I am a city girl. The best anecdote from the trip occurred when we were getting on a bus to go between two small towns near Lake Balaton. The bus driver realized that we did not know much Hungarian and told us that the fare for the four of us would be ein thousand forint. "Ein" sounds an awful lot like "nine", so we were a bit worried for a minute, but we figured out what was actually going on quickly. It make sense that the native Hungarian speakers would be just as likely to mix their foreign languages (German and English) as we are to blend the other languages we know with our meager Hungarian, but it can certainly make for interesting communication issues :-) Here are some of the pictures I took during the Lake Balaton adventure: