Before recounting the antics involving our hotel’s elevator, I’m going to step back and grasp at where I left off in my previous post. My roommate and I awoke Monday morning and decided getting up immediately was way too much effort. After ten minutes of groggy mumbling we crept out of our beds. My shoulders were complaining and BreAnna’s back was giving her a hard time over our respective luggage issues the previous day. 3:10am is not a time to wake up, even though technically it’s 9:10am here in Budapest. Breakfast was typical European; breads, cheeses, warm milk, juice, scrambled eggs, cold cut meat, and sausages. Being vegetarian, I simply passed over the meat and selected some eggs and a slice of bread which I topped with a forest fruit jelly. I’m not entirely sure what forest fruit encompasses, but the jelly was delicious and tangy.
At 10am, we were picked up by Adriana who led us to McDaniel College Budapest for an orientation session. The staircase is beautiful, but not fun to climb. The individual steps are wide but short, making walking feel very stop-motion. Orientation involved what to try and what to avoid about the city, such as work on make friends with other students, but don’t ever throw a college house party (the elderly ladies won’t like it, and neither will the police). After listening for a bit and learning a few Hungarian phrases, we were given a break and sandwiches were brought in for our selection. The sandwiches involved slices of bread, similar to Italian bread, topped with spread and dinky vegetable slices. A creamy paprika sandwich was one of my favorites. On the other hand, the supposed eggplant spread tasted more like cucumber (a vegetable I truly loath).
Following our session, we were released to explore the city. BreAnna and I headed past Keleti Pályaudvar, which is a Budapest train station with a humungous arch built into the structure of the white stone building. She and I played a bit of ping-pong – wandering down various streets and bouncing back to Keleti. We decided to schedule some adventure days where we could fall into the typical tourist mode, with cameras hanging around our necks, photographing everything. Still under the cloud of jet lag and needing a shield from the cold, we trooped back to the hotel to relax.
Dinner was a major event. First, everyone gathered at 6:30pm in the lobby and strode out the door and down our street. We traveled quite a distance (seems to be a recurring theme in cities), to reach the metro. Earlier in the day, during orientation, we’d been given our student passes. Public transportation in Budapest has sporadic regulation. People are merely expected to have tickets (that they punch at a tiny machine in the metro station) or passes in order to jump on board. However, it’s kind of a guess as to whether you might actually run into a controller who will check for your pass. When the bus, tram, or metro train pulls up, you simply walk on, and can get a free ride. However, if you’re caught by a controller, you have to pay a fine of several thousand Forints (equivalent is probably around 70 US dollars). So we headed onto the metro, safe since we had our passes. When we stepped off, the restaurant was only half a block away from the station.
Dinner landed us in a restaurant that is big on game meats, but food was available buffet style, so there were plenty of available non-meat options. I was lucky enough to be seated across from Dr. Adamson, giving me the chance to chat with him about Hungary. Just as we sat down with our food, most of the building’s lights shut off, loud enthusiastic music slammed down conversations, and a cake sporting a crackling sparkler pranced into the room. Talk about a restaurant turning happy birthday into a grand event. After the music evaporated and the lights switched on, Dr. Adamson began telling BreAnna and I about places to explore in Hungary. A lot of students who come to McDaniel, Budapest, travel all over Europe. Since BreAnna and I are both on tight budgets, we’ll probably stick to the cheaper option of traveling through Hungary. Our one major trip will be to Prague, Czech Republic. Otherwise, cheap train tickets and Dr. Adamson’s advice can place us in several different cities and towns with minimal trouble.
After dinner, we sped back to our hotel and located our beds without any doors or corners running into us.
Now for the tale of our elevator escapade. The photograph I’ve included with this post illustrates one of the hotel’s elevators. BreAnna and I were fascinated with the glass elevator that overlooked a courtyard, and our amusement was heightened when we discovered our 3rd-floor window was on the opposite side. We felt very stalker-like peering through our blinds at people riding down in the elevator. So, Tuesday morning, we snatched up our cameras and I headed out the door to the elevator. I shot pictures first, of her in our room, and me reflected in the mirror on the elevator doors. Then I put my camera away so BreAnna could have her turn to take pictures out our window. After we exchanged thumbs-up I swung back around to our room. As I entered, BreAnna immediately questioned whatever magical powers I had employed to keep the elevator in one spot. “Oh,” I said, “I simply went into the elevator and pushed the ‘close doors’ button. Since I haven’t pushed a floor number, the elevator has no where to go.” I effectively trapped myself in the elevator (at least until our photo session ended).
After comparing photos and fetching breakfast, we hauled our suitcases downstairs in preparation to leave for our new apartment. Since McDaniel Budapest does not have dorms, the students from the McDaniel Westminster campus are placed into apartments by the school. Because we’re from the main campus, the school finds and rents our apartments for us, whereas other students must find their own places. The disadvantage? We don’t know what our apartment is going to be like. The advantage? Worrying was never necessary. A McDaniel student showed us to our new apartment. First we had to haul, scrape and lug our bags up two flights of stairs (the elevator was broken), then we ran around trying to locate our door (you enter the doors from a balcony, and the doors have no label), finally, we were almost defeated by three stubborn door locks. Still, somehow, we’re now in our new apartment, and it is gorgeous. We have a kitchen/living room, a bathroom, and individual bedrooms with more space than we could possibly need.
The rest of our day involved our McDaniel student guide pointing out stores and showing us the way to campus, signing several forms for Adriana, and difficulties with shopping. Shopping involved trying to guess what Hungarian words might mean, attempting to differentiate fabric detergent from fabric softener and debating what to purchase for dinner and tomorrow morning’s breakfast. Let’s just say we should have asked our McDaniel student guide a few more questions regarding shopping.
Jan 23-24, 2012
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