Sunday, August 27, 2006

Subtle Differences

So here are some things I’ve noticed in the few days I’ve been here.  First of all, the standard of personal hygiene is, well, different.  It is not at all uncommon to stand next to someone on the bus and wonder if they’ve showered or put on deodorant this week.  I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but right now it still surprises me every time.  Secondly, I have seen one or two speed limit signs, but for the most part, people just drive as fast as the possibly can between one traffic light and the next.  Traffic tends to be on the light side because so many people use public transport, but those that do drive do so quickly, and with absolute precision.  I have seen so many almost-crashes, but never has anyone actually hit something.
  Me and Kyla, worried about the speed of traffic

They just come within inches.  Wow.  Third, waiters will not bring you your check unless you ask.  Last night Julia (my roommate) and I went to an ice cream place, and sat there for an hour and a half before we figured this out.  The place was closing and so finally we asked for our check. 

The difference that made the biggest impact on me, however, was in a guide book.  Yesterday Professor Fetzer took us up into the hills above Buda (the older part of the city), where there is a “Children’s Train.”  This train is run completely by ten- to fourteen-year-olds who are training to become train conductors. 

Apparently it’s a competitive program to get into.  The train runs up through the hills and at one of the stops, you can get off and take what the guide books call “a short walk to a spectacular view of Budapest.”  I am happy to report that the view was indeed spectacular.  The “short walk” however, took us a good thirty minutes at quite an incline.  We climbed a mountain, which has an old fortress at the top, where you can see the city.  This trek was such that the little girl walking in front of me burst tears about halfway up.  Poor thing.  The view from the top of the fortress was breath-taking, though.  We could see all of Budapest and a few suburbs, too.  Amazing.  The walk back down was easier.  When we reached the bottom we waited for the children’s train to get us and then we came home. 
  The fortress
  The view
  Mary, me, Kyla, and Christine at the top of the fortress
This morning a bunch of people from our group tried to go to church at the Basilica we saw the other day, but there was a bouncer.  Who’s ever heard of a bouncer at CHURCH!?  He thought we were tourists I guess, even though we were all dressed for church, so he wouldn’t let us in.  Of course, we didn’t know how to explain to him (in Hungarian) that we just wanted to worship, and he spoke absolutely no English.  Maybe that was the problem.  He didn’t believe we were really going to worship since we didn’t speak the language.  There was a woman who tried to help us, so Kari and Julia did get in, but the rest of us were completely denied.  So we went to Kalvin Ter (Calvin Square), found a cafe, and had some lunch.  We had to meet the rest of our group at the Hungarian National Museum at two, and we had tried to go to a noon mass, so after lunch (which was delicious.  Best Hungarian food I’ve had yet) we walked the block to the Museum, and then spent three hours learning about Hungary’s history from the Neolithic Age to the present.  In Hungarian.  I’m not sure how much I picked up.  Thank goodness Hungarian language classes start on Tuesday. 

Posted by Emily MacLeod on 08/27 at 12:49 PM
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