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Archive for January, 2012

Since we’re in Hungary, BreAnna and I decided to attempt cooking a Hungarian meal. Since the recipe we found was on the internet, the only assurance that it’s Hungarian is the fact that it calls for Hungarian Paprika. Still, we decided to attempt making Borsofozelek, which seems to be cream pea soup.

Ingredients include: oil, onion, water, green peas, flour, milk, salt, pepper, and Hungarian paprika.

Results: A filling meal with a kick.

Papa is the cook at my house and takes everything into consideration, even colors.  I loved that Borsofozelek bobbed green spheres in a red background. Personally, I would have liked the peas cooked a little longer, but BreAnna though they were fine. The first taste brings a normal mouthful of peas and paprika. About a minute later, the heat sweeps through and down your throat. BreAnna and I both decided it’s a delicious way to clear out your sinuses. Luckily, we had some bread to help pat down the flames. Ultimately, it was a success.

 

Jan 29, 2012
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Currently, I only have a picture of the living room/ kitchen part of our apartment, but once I’ve finished unpacking, I’ll be sure to include a photo of my room as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 29, 2012

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So far, BreAnna and I have made two trips to the market. One was with our group of main campus students. The second was just us.

Trip One: A short bus trip from Keleti Pályaudvar (Keleti train station) planted us in front of the Great Market Hall. Wish I could have stood there, gawking like a tourist, but we had to hustle after our guide. For me, this was a return trip. In high school I had a chance to be invited to a Global Youth Leadership Conference during which we visited Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. When we were in Budapest, we visited the Great Market Hall. Now, over 5 years later, I recognized the Hall enough to remember where the bathrooms were located. I recognized the layout, saw the restaurant where my friends and I ate, and went looking for the massive candles balanced on tables outside of food stands.

This time, we wound along the hall, up the stairs and back towards the building’s front, all the while gargling the Hungarian words for fruits and vegetables. After the short tour, we were released to blubber the Hungarian words on our own to stand owners who generally knew enough English to make us feel useless. BreAnna, Kaitlin and I wandered to the ATM, which promptly refused my card, twice. I still had a few Forints with me and wasn’t planning to shop just yet, so I was fine. We twined between stands, skimming past potatoes, eggplants, onions, bananas, cheeses, meat, oranges, and grapes. Then, deciding that food shopping on empty stomachs was not a good idea, we trooped upstairs to locate some grub. And lets just say, that was some of the best grub ever. Sweets just naturally draw people, particularly tourists, and we found ourselves cemented in front of a stand selling pancakes and langos. A langos is a large circle of fried dough that is topped with jam, cheese, meat, and/or vegetables. BreAnna chose one with cranberry jam. The pancakes were more like crepes, being made on a circular frying platform. I watched my pancake being cooked and flipped, then got to see the woman add crushed walnuts, Nutella, rum flavored raisins, and vanilla cream. Then, it was rolled into a crepe and chocolate syrup was drizzled on top while gobs of whipped cream decorated the ends. Rich and delicious.

Since our bellies were full of sugary glory, we decided on a walk along the street across from the Great Market Hall. We explored several shops and saw the famous Hungarian trick boxes (I brought back one for my sister, Cyci, on my previous trip). BreAnna located a gift for her nephew in one of the shops, and we all headed home for the evening.

Trip Two: This was a short trip. We were looking for fruit and Hungarian paprika. Both were located immediately, and after a little leg work to compare prices, we were able to purchase bananas, clementines, and the paprika. On top of the food, I was able to acquire a few photos. The one above is the outside of the Great Market Hall, and the one to the left is of the inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 28, 2012 and Jan 29, 2012

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Today, BreAnna, Kaitlin, and I struck out in search of a nearby cafe. We strode up one street, pointing to cafes and debating on the possibility of the prices being outside our budgets. After several blocks, we circled around, remarking on one cafe/bar with red seats as a potential. Feeling our faces stiffening into winter wind grimaces we swung into the cafe directly next door to the apartment building in which BreAnna and I live. Inside we snuck glances at the cake case while examining the menu. Ultimately, we decided to abandon the healthy sandwich option and in turn selected cakes and pies. I chose an almá pite (apple pie), and both BreAnna and Kaitlin selected a slice of cake with a berry topping. We settled down with our desserts, coffee and tea drinks and began sliding our forks into our fruity treats. The cheesecake was described as having a mousse texture, with a light fruity taste. With free wifi and a convenient location, this cafe may soon become our homework haunt.

My slice of almá pite had a thick, moist crust covering the bottom, back and top. The pie wasn’t loaded with sugar, and had a tart aftertaste. I also had strawberry tea as well. At least my lunch added fruit to my diet. The cost of my sugary lunch was 710 Forints, which, according to the current conversion rate, is only $3.21. I feel very thrifty, and extremely content. I know BreAnna is floating in heaven — I think the berry cake is causing her to float away, maybe it would be a good idea to catch ahold of her ankle and set her back in the chair.

Jan 29, 2012

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Survival skills are needed in any city, such as walking across the street without loosing a limb to a passing vehicle, or slinging your bag across your chest, instead of hanging it on a shoulder where it can be snatched.  However, BreAnna and I have a few additional skills we’re picking up here in Budapest.

Skill 1: Patience.  Now, I suppose this is a practical skill that most parents impress upon their children, but BreAnna and I are getting a Hungarian crash course.  At home, I usually know how long it will take me to reach the store, or my friends house, so I can allot the correct amount of time.  On Wednesday, our group had to meet up to go with McDaniel staff to an Immigration Office.  We had a meeting time of 8:15am, we headed out the door at 7:30am, and after a quick turn around, got going at 7:40am.  We located the correct tram to Blaha Luzja ter, jumped on-board and two stops later we were standing on the platform wondering what to do for 30 minutes.  It seems we have expectations of transportation taking longer than it actually does.  Now, even though it’s a city, I have yet to see a traffic jam.  Why?  Because many people take the cheaper option; public transportation.  As McDaniel students, we have a $15 monthly student pass that we can use to ride any public tram, trolly, subway, or bus.  Since transportation is quick, we find ourselves characteristically early when we only intended to be on time.

Skill 1 Continued: Remember, patience is key.  After our group rode to the Immigration office, we walked in and sat.  Just like any major office in the U.S., you sit while the electronic screens hold numbers lower than yours, and never seem to change.  When my number finally came up, I walked down the hall to the correct counter and sat down again.  I passed my papers to the woman behind the counter and again, waited, as she copied, sorted, stamped, and signed my papers.  Finally, they took my picture and shooed me towards the waiting room where it seemed everyone had finished…. except BreAnna.  Stuck with a complication involving her bank statement, she was still twiddling her thumbs.

Finally she was released and we could go shopping.

Skill 2: Guessing.  Surprise, surprise, Madyarul (Hungarian) is often the only language surrounding you in Hungary.  While I can now recognize several street names by how they are spelled, I certainly can’t pronounce them.  Madyarul covers every box and bag in the grocery store, with only a few food items sporting English words on the front (if we’re lucky).  It’s more of a challenge than you would think trying to pick out which baking flour is most likely to be all-purpose.  If all else fails, and you’ve lost the guessing game, ask.

Skill 3: Ask.  After debating over what might possibly be vegetable oil, in a small grocery store, BreAnna and I decided to figure it out later.  I went out that evening while she was napping to try again, and found that my skills at guessing Hungarian had not improved in the course of a few hours.  So, I went back to my room and translated salt (só), black pepper (feketebors), and vegetable oil (növényi olaj), and once again trooped up the street for groceries.  Well, I found só and feketebors, but I kept staring at the oils.  I could pick out olive oil and sunflower oil, but I wasn’t entirely sure that the green bottle with vegetables on it was vegetable oil, namely because there were two different ones, a 10% and a 15% bottle.  So, I asked an attendant if he spoke English he said a little, but had to get another store staff to answer my question.  Ultimately, I settled on sunflower oil. Asking is a very good skill; it saved BreAnna and I from cooking our food in vinegar, the actual substance in the green bottle.

Skill 4: Scrubbing Dishes.  I doubt most people from our group were stalled on this particular skill.  In our case, however, we pulled up short upon discovering most of our dishes were dotted with a yellow sticky and sometimes crusty substance.  This revelation lead to an inspection of the cabinets, releasing musty smells and location of more gunk dried on shelves and the bottoms of our wall cabinets.  We delved into a two-day cleaning frenzy of our tiny kitchen and assorted dishes.  At least we’re well aware of what’s included in our current kitchen supply.

Skill 5: Unlocking the Door Frantically.  Wednesday afternoon I was pondering over a small box located on the wall above the shower head, well out of reach for two girls standing around 5ft 2.  It was plugged into the wall, and I figured if it was meant to be messed with, it would have been placed low enough to be examined.  10 minutes later a violent screeching answered my questions.  Poor BreAnna was in the bathroom when the alarm sounded, and echoed around the tiny bathroom.  Next to the word gas, was a small red light.  All I came up with was, “Get out!”  The door immediately gave us another fright; it was locked.  We were told to keep our apartments locked, even when we were at home (to prevent cat burglars), and we were effectively locked in a gas-filled apartment.  It only took a few seconds to unlock the door and we crashed onto the terrace, releasing the alarm into the building’s courtyard.  Since we didn’t have any open fires, I headed back inside to open windows as BreAnna called our adviser at McDaniel.  We were told the company (whatever one is affiliated with the school/building) would be sent over to inspect our alarm, which promptly turned off.  Still, to avoid suffocation, we left our windows open and braved the winter wind.  As we waited for the fix-it guy, we debated over a potential gas smell in the kitchen.  Yes, our stove is a gas stove.  Finally, as we headed out the door to run errands, we met the company’s guy headed towards our door.  He had keys to our apartment, so we were able to leave, and when we returned, the windows were shut and the alarm silent.  The only other time it has sounded was when BreAnna was in the shower, and then it was sporadic, on for a few seconds, off for a few more.  I don’t understand the logic of having a smoke/gas alarm in a potentially steam-filled bathroom.  Our gas fright brings me to our next skill.

Skill 6: Lighting the gas stove.  The oven at my house has an electric lighter, and I was a bit nervous about cooking when I had to light the flame myself.  So, as BreAnna and I prepared to light the gas oven (which may or may not have been the cause of the sudden gas alarm the day before), we opened a window, made sure we knew where our keys were and got ready to bolt if something went wrong.  After teasing my mom about blowing non-existent gas from an electric oven I had gained a bit of common sense, and after each false start, I blew away any extra gas that could possibly be lingering on the stove top.  Between the two of us, we got one of the burners going and we were able to make spaghetti.  We’ll soon be cooking some Hungarian dishes, and hopefully they’ll turn out nicely.

Skill 7: Dressing correctly.  Just because we flew in on an evening with nice weather, doesn’t mean winter is over.  There was snow drifting across our faces as we followed our guide on Thursday, and Friday meeting winds that slid down alleyways and zipped around building corners.  Even with a winter coat, I could have used an extra pair of pants and a long sleeve shirt on either day.  I need to finish unpacking before we start school and find my long underwear.  Waiting for the trolly at 7:30am will certainly be colder than at 10:00am.

So, we’ve survived a week in Budapest, and we just have to get through 17 more weeks.  I think once the weather warms up and we have a chance to explore it we’ll have some adventures.  I rather like being able to move my fingers when trying to take a photograph, so currently, I’ve been leaving my cameras at home.

Jan 22-28, 2012

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Thursday involved a group bus tour, with a professor from McDaniel serving as tour guide.  We got a history lesson and a few cases of frozen fingers.  These are some of the photographs I captured along the way.

The snow made it difficult to take sharp photographs, but many friends and family members have asked for photographs.  I love and miss everybody.  Please follow my blog to get regular updates.

Jan 26, 2012

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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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