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Wednesday
Dec052012

The Snow Boat

Today, it finally happened.  Some nice snow fell on my head.  And even though I didn’t actually throw a snowball yet, I did watch my friend throw one (poorly).

The only picture I got to prove that there was snow - next time I'll try for something more exciting. (click to see larger)My afternoon class is about management, so we had been out in the hallway doing a quirky activity.  When we returned to the classroom, someone started squeaking as they got to the window.  I assumed there was a mouse in the room, but that was wrong.  There was snow falling outside.  Apparently squeaking can express two things:  fear of a mouse, and excitement about snow.

Good to know, I am learning things in school.

But, that view was worth all the studying I’m doing.  The classroom is on the European 3rd floor (4th in America – much more impressive sounding), and the building is right on the Danube.  So, the view is of the prettiest bridge in Budapest, and there is a fancy hotel next to a grand hill right across the river.  It was wise of them to have the desks face away from the window, or lectures would be quite hard to follow.

It was pretty exciting to see the little white flakes falling in the river, and it was a big surprise.  Earlier I had a break, so I wanted to go gaze longingly out the window with my cup of coffee, but the only thing out there was thick fog.

Watching a river boat cruising along through the snow, I really got to thinking about how awesome of an adventure that would be.  I’ve wanted to navigate up the rivers of Europe and see old cities and castles from the deck of a fun little boat, but maybe it would be better to see from the inside while sipping a mug of something warm.  If anyone has a boat that you want to lend me, I’ll be happy to send you some postcards.

 Snow, cold weather, Christmas lights - it's that time of the year... (click to see larger)

Hungarian word of the day:

Hajó

This word is pronounced „Haw-yo,” and it means boat or ship.  Instead of riding one in the summer when it’s hot and I’ll get sunburned, I’ll brave the winter snow and ice in my hajó, just as soon as I can figure out how.  Suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday
Nov282012

Hungarian Winter: Foreign Bloodsuckers And Lack Of Productivity

This story is scary, much like this poster! (click image to see larger)Again, it’s that time of the year.  I came home from school, took a nap, woke up a little after 4 p.m., and switched on the lights.  It was dark out.

Living in a (kind of) northern country whose border is the edge of the time zone is a little cursed.  I know, I know, I complain about it every year. But, I think that’s my right for willingly putting up with it.

Plus, I like the darkness.  You don’t need sunscreen.  You don’t need sunglasses. You get to see pretty buildings (people light those up).  You don’t have to look at ugly buildings (people don’t bother to light those).

On a serious note, though, there are two big problems.  The first is lack of productivity.  The second is vampires (no, I’m not kidding – keep reading if you think I am).

Let’s start with productivity (and save the exciting part for the end)  I need to learn some tricks for still feeling motivation when it’s dark out – do you know any?  My natural clock tries to tell me that darkness means it’s nearly bedtime.  In other words, relax, read a book, watch some TV, and then go to sleep.  Maybe not the greatest idea at 5:15 in the evening.  Homework doesn’t do itself…

Dusk in the city. This is why Budapest is great (even at night). (click image to see larger)Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the vampire part.  I just read an article that a town in Serbia is panicked because of a vampire.  Apparently he lived in an old mill, but it recently collapsed, so he’s now homeless.  This led the mayor to issue a warning for all the villagers to put garlic in their windows and doors, and hang crosses in their windows.  No, I’m not joking, read the article here.  Even I can’t make up a story like that.

I’m just concerned that the vampire will read this blog and fall in love with Budapest.  After all, it isn’t far from him, and it seems to be vampire friendly because they filmed the Underworld movies here.  It’s fairly unlikely that he’ll move to a Mediterranean island.  Someone better warn the guards on the Serbian border to keep their eyes open (at night).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to the store to buy some garlic.

 I may have to hide out in the famous Matthias Church of Budapest! (click image to see larger)

Hungarian word of the day:

Este

This word is pronounced “Esh-teh,” and it means “evening.”  The evenings get earlier and earlier, my productivity drops, and my new vampire friend is on his way here.

Monday
Nov262012

I Need Your Help!

It's not a horse race, but I want to win. Please help!I like telling my stories, that much is obvious.  But, I also appreciate a little recognition.  Who doesn’t?

Recently, I was contacted by an expat blogging website who complimented me on my work.  They even went so far as to suggest that I’m in the running for one of their yearly awards!

This leads me to ask you, my faithful readers, for a little bit of help.  Go to my information on their website and leave a nice comment about how much you love my blog!

Here’s the link:

http://www.expatsblog.com/blogs/1133/alex-will-travel

The more comments I have, the better I look!

Thanks in advance.  This will help me keep up my motivation of writing and adding new information here.

 

Hungarian word of the day:

Verseny

This word is pronounced “Vurh-shen,” and it means contest or competition (according to my dictionary).

Tuesday
Nov202012

Eger Castle Canon

Click image to see larger.Canons are cool.  Canons are awesome.  As a matter of fact, I might make it a habit to start taking pictures of canons when I see them.

By the way, this one is in the castle in Eger, Hungary.

Sunday
Nov182012

On The Road (With Parents)

I had visitors.  They were my parents.  We rented a car.  We went on a trip.  It was fun.  If this was all the detail I ever gave you, I’d probably write more often.

Who doesn't want to drive through a gate like this? (click to see larger)Ok, fine, I’ll say more.

Keep in mind, this was a few weeks ago.  It’s not that I don’t have any time to write, the truth is that I don’t feel like sitting down and typing away after long days of studying.  My free time during busy school months (like this one) is typically spent doing activities that don’t require thinking.  You know, activities such as boiling water, going grocery shopping, or closing the window.

Back to the topic:  road trips are fun.  I like train trips a lot more, but they can really limit your options.  When you travel on the rails, it’s much more challenging to get to small places, and it can take longer with local trains and changes.  The result of a train trip is that the journey is more fun at the expense of the destination.

Cars are a responsibility.  A big, big responsibility.  The only realistic option for me is to rent one.  Two alternatives I can think of are to buy or steal one, but the first is too expensive and the second requires a lot of tattoos (at least according to Hollywood).  Therefore, I have to track down a rental company, and figure out how to make it all work.  Fortunately, my dad has developed quite a skill set for doing this in a European setting, so it requires minimum effort on my part.

A nice Slovakian sidestreet. (click to see larger)The next catch is finding where to go.  Cities are difficult to navigate, and this isn’t the continent where I grew up.  This equation has the result that European cities are difficult to get around in.  But, it’s 2012.  We now have a nice little object called a GPS that tells us exactly where to go.  Unfortunately, her robotic voice always ignores me when I start to argue – so rude (and “turn around when possible” is a phrase that haunts my nightmares).

Another challenge is gas.  I assume this part will be irrelevant in another 100 years (there will be an alternative source of fuel or a robot to do it for us), but now we still have to take responsibility.  Fortunately, pulling a car into a gas station is a pretty big hint of what you want, and a little bit of pointing covers the less certain parts.  This trip, I even ended up with a (maybe free, maybe not) water bottle!  What a deal!

Driving right off of a hill. (click to see larger)On the other hand, there are plenty of good parts to a road trip.  You don’t have to worry about some creepy, smelly guy sitting in the car with you (if that happens, you have much bigger problems).  If you get hungry, you can stop (train conductors don’t take kindly to the pulling of the emergency brake when passing by a nice restaurant).  And, the best part, you can sing at the top of your lungs!

This is the biggest debate:

Rental Car Smell vs. Train Smell

That, in my opinion, is a toss-up.

As usual, I’m out of time and didn’t talk about my trip.  Why do I always do this?  Whoever it was who said the famous quote about the journey being the most important part would probably really like me.  Check back soon for some more stories!

 Driving right next to this didn't make me uncomfortable at all... (click to see larger)

Hungarian word of the day:

Autó

This word is pronounced like „Aw-oo-toe,” and it (surprisingly) means car.  It’s pretty useful when you want to rent one.  It can save you from having to take a boat trip.

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