Monday, September 11, 2006

happy to be here

So my post on Friday was a little bit down.  There were no funny little anecdotes or entertaining observances.  I apologize.  Let me liven up this blog a bit.  I’ll start with the partial lunar eclipse that I witnessed on Thursday evening.  A group of girls from my apartment decided to head down to Budapest’s Castle District where the International Wine Festival was being held.  As we were leaving the dormitory, Christy pointed out that it looked like there was a lunar eclipse, and sure enough, there was a shadow over about a quarter of the moon.  Unfortunately, we saw it right at the end, so the moon was quickly reappearing, but it was still a beautiful sight.  We looked online the next day and found out that there had indeed been a partial lunar eclipse visible only in eastern Europe and Africa on Thursday night.  So I guess you could say I’m glad to be living in Europe at this time.

So we were heading out to the wine festival, where we were going to do a little wine tasting and a lot of people watching, when Zso (pronounced like the English name Joe), a Hungarian student we know, came running after us.  There had been a misunderstanding, and he and a few other Hungarian students thought that the Calvin students were planning on going out with the Hungarians on Thursday night.  I guess some of the Calvin students had made such plans, but we knew nothing of them.  However, the Calvin students who made the plans apparently backed out without letting the Hungarian students know, so Mary, Kyla, Chandra, Eric and I went with the Hungarian students to a little out of the way (aka, down a dark alley) bar.  One of the Hungarian students who we’ve come to know had received news that she was accepted into a study-abroad program in Glasgow, Scotland, so this was her going-away party.  I’m so glad I went so I could say goodbye to her.  We had such a great time that night.  The bar seemed a little bit shady at first, but everyone was really nice, and there were three different rooms to the place.  The first room was indoors, and there were a lot of people smoking in there at little tables, so we moved onto the next room, which was half-indoors and half-outdoors, but it was full, so we settled in the third room, which had walls but no ceiling.  It was a beautiful night, and since we were sort of outside, the smoke from the cigarettes being smoked around us wasn’t too bad.  So we talked and laughed, and had a great time.  The Hungarian students taught us some useful Hungarian phrases (“excuse me,” “you’re welcome,” etc.) that we had not yet been taught in our Hungarian language class. 
Friday was rather uneventful, if you don’t count my falling down some stairs outside the Budapest University of Technology and Economics where we had to go for exchange-student orientation.  It was raining when we came outside, and I slipped on some wet cement, and banged up my arms and back.  And then I wrote a downer of a blog post.  :)
Saturday was a beautiful day, and Julia, Cari, and I took advantage of it by going to a Eger, little town two hours northeast of here by train.  Eger is in the heart of the Hungarian wine country, so after touring around the city itself for the morning and early afternoon, we walked thirty minutes outside the town to “The Valley of Nice Women,” which is what the English translation of the name for the wine valley is.  It was beautiful, and we felt as though we were in Italy.  Perfectly blue sky, temperatures in the mid-70s, grape vines growing all up the hills, and about 50 little wineries where one can taste wine.  So we tasted five of their wines for a total of about $3.  I liked one of the five - a sweet white wine.  I guess I have girly tastes.  It was a lovely experience, though.  The whole day was just beautiful - laid-back, warm, easy.  We slept well Saturday night, though, because we walked all over in Eger during the day, and had only gotten about six hours of sleep the night before. 
  Me, Julia, and Cari by the Cathedral in Eger
  Cari and Julia in the castle ruins
  Me in the castle ruins
  The view of Eger from the castle ruins
Sunday morning the whole group ended up at the english-speaking Church of Scotland in downtown Budapest.  It was funny, really, because we split into three different groups so that we wouldn’t be a huge group going to any one church, and then we all ended up at the same church.  I liked the church a lot, and I think I’ll make it my church home for the weekends that I am in the city.  They are without a minister right now, but they have a delightful and Biblically-sound stand-in from Inverness, Scotland there for now.  The church itself was very welcoming, too.  Over tea after the service lots of people came up to members of our group welcoming us and asking if we planned to come again.  I do plan to go again, this weekend in fact.  Many people from our group will be gone this weekend - some to Croatia, some to Austria, and some to Oktoberfest in Munich - but I’ll be here with a few others, and we plan to go to the spa and to the Church of Scotland.  Perhaps we’ll even go spelunking in some of Budapest’s caves.  Who knows! 
Well, it’s time again for Hungarian language class.  All together tonight instead of split into two groups as we have been for the past two weeks.  I hear we’ll be playing some games.

Posted by Emily MacLeod on 09/11 at 12:19 PM
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