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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hungarian of the Day: “I Don’t Understand

Nem Értem!

[nem eyr-tem]

[today is hopefully going to be the only exception, but I hope to do a word/phrase/saying of the day and then document it with a story and a picture. Then after a line break will continue my daily story/life update. However, I feel this is an appropriate start to my adventure!]


Packing: Check

Re-Packing to Fit Weight Requirements: Check

Find Phoenix: Check

Get to C&J Bus at Pease: Check

Get to Logan International: Check

Get on Swiss Air Flight 53: Check

Eat Delicious Meal on Flight: Check

Sleep: Check - Double Check

The time has finally come - I’m en route to Budapest! It’s become this strange mix of emotions - I’m absolutely elated to be doing something productive with my life and to be able to live abroad. However, my stomach twists in knots over all the unknowns in my immediate and extended future. However, the scale is tipped to the excitement side and I cannot wait to get started on my new life (which I guess you could say started in Logan!)I hope I was able to say mysee-you-soonsto everyone before I boarded my plane at 9:10EST in Boston. If not, please know it was unintentional and I will try to call you from Budapest at some point soon.

Packing went a lot smoother than I expected (I mean, yes I was a few pounds over and I had to figure out what was to be left behind, but that’s not a big deal, really). I actually surprised myself with the quick decisions I was able to make about what I was bringing. This means probably that I am missing a lot of things that I might need, but at this point I’m so over caring that it’s just going to be what it is and I will deal with things as they hit me. All in all I have three-ish bags of my own. I say ish because I have a suitcase and duffel bag with clothes and stuff in it which I count as real luggage and then I have my fencing bag. Then I also have my backpack and tiny cary-on roll-bag. So, I feel like I have a lot, but when you think about moving somewhere for two years it’s not that much, right?

We took C&J Trail-ways into Logan International Airport, which I thought was expensive, but turned out to still be less than what it would have cost my dad to park at Logan for the hours we were there. And the bus had WiFi, which was pretty cool (yay for updating Twitter & Facebook en route!) and allowed everyone to just sit back and relax. Not that anyone in my part was relaxed - mom was nervous to fly and anxious to get to Budapest (as was I) and dad is still pretty sad to see me go so far away for so long (it’s not as easy to get to Budapest as it was to Chapel Hill!).

Once in the airport we grabbed some (delicious) Boston food - I had lobster bisque and a crab cake sandwich that I split with mom. Nothing like leaving the US on a full stomach of delicious New England fare. The line for security wasn’t that bad - especially when a new line opened up right in front of me. Thank goodness I’ve travelled so much because I was just able to pull out the necessary things and throw everything else on the belt and run through. I hate security lines. I get why theyre important and that it’s necessary to have them, but far too often I get stuck behind the people who have no clue what theyre doing. Once through I grabbed my last American Starbucks (iced white mocha w/ skim and no whip!) and sat down to charge my assorted appliances. My GOD was it hot in there! I think both the a/c and the fans were broken because the air was just stagnant and gross.

The Swiss Air plane was cute and not as big as Alitalia or Aeroflot - the seats were 2-4-2 which gave plenty of arm room and the biggest surprise was the crazy amount of leg room offered to each person! Usually I get a bit cramped on planes but on this one I almost had too much space so that I wasn’t able to fold up and stay put. But seriosul, why am I complaining about too much room in coach?! Each seat had its own TV with a selection of games, movies, TV episodes, music, audiobooks, etc. Did I use any of it? Yeah, I playedWho Wants to Be A Millionairefor about the first 15 min of the flight before we got our dinner (cheese tortellini w/ a bed of spinach, a salad, a roll, and a brownie) and then passed out for the next 5 hours. Then I was woken up by breakfast (croissant and chocolate) and watch an episode of the Simpsons and almost a full episode of CSI:Miami (not enough to find out who did it, dang it!). Then it was.....

Guten Tag Switzerland!

Granted, we only went out into Zürich’s city center for about 3 hours, but still! Mom and I managed to take the train, wander around, not get lost, and get back to the airport with plenty of time remaining for being bored in the airport. After the flight and the 6+ hours in Zürich I got very accustomed to listening to German - which sounds very pretty when spoken by natives and can sound pretty gross when butchered by non-natives. When we finally got to Budapest hearing Hungarian seemed really foreign!

My goals for Switzerland were to buy a Swiss watch, some chocolate, a Swiss Army knife, a yodeling horn, and to open a bank account. What did get accomplished was buying some Swiss chocolate (caramel & chocolate - delicious) and a Swatch! And not just any Swatch - one made only for the stores in Zürich city. So, that’s pretty cool, right? Judge if you must, but I’m super excited about it! It ticks REALLY REALLY loud though. Oh well, I love it! Oh, and for our delicious one time in Zürich only Swiss meal? McDonalds. Sheesh. Mom only wanted a soda and I was too tired to argue. So I got a snack wrap (which was a Caesar snack wrap - pretty awesome - Chicken, lettuce, tomato, parmesan cheese, and caesar dressing) and a Coke Lite (which is much better than Diet Coke, it’s American counterpart, that I will only drink when it’s the only option in the US). We shopped some, wandered down to the river, took some pictures, bought some postcards, and then hopped the train back to the Airport.

Craziest things about Zürich airport?

  1. They only announce your gate 60 minuted before your flight - so you have very little time to get through security.
  2. It is the ritziest airport I have ever been in - Burberry, Ferrari Clothing, Emporio Armani, Hermès, Gucci, Porsche Clothing, etc.
  3. Met a girl from Durham, NH who went to UNH, graduated a year before me, and is now entering her 3rd year of Medical School in Hungary (a process that lasts 6 years, I am not sure if that includes residency or some European equivalent of it). No I didn’t get her number/email address she sounded like she never has time for anything and I wasn’t going to be that person.

I slept the whole way to Budapest, surprise, surprise. Once we landed we got our bags with no hassle ( but which was swamped with people as they only had 2 carousels for the place and very unorganized) and paid for tickets on the airport shuttle. They took us right to the front door of Le Meridien. This may just be the fanciest hotel I have ever stayed in - including the Broadmore. It’s really beautiful, the staff is friendly, and it’s location for a couple of first-timers cannot be beat. It’s expensive though, luckily we were able to find a package deal with American Express so were not paying the full price. We checked in, the concierge told me where to sit in the lobby to steal free internet from the bar, and hauled ourselves up to our AMAZING room. Pictures will follow, but let me give you a written explanation:

  1. Bathroom has heated floors. I love this European custom, and should I ever own a house, it will too.
  2. Bathroom has separate tub/shower. Bath will be had tonight - it’s the size of a small swimming pool. I cannot wait.
  3. Bed is a King, but made for two. This means mom and I have separate comforters. It may just be the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in - which if you know of me and my love for my personal bed in the US, is quite the statement.
  4. There is a chandelier IN OUR ROOM. Not saying - just saying.

So, mom fell asleep pretty much as soon as we got into the room (she doesn’t sleep well on planes) and I took a much craved shower. Then went down to the lobby to call dad (thank God for Skype) and then re-explain to him how to video chat. Talked to him for a little while. Then checked my email and other assorted internet addictions and returned to the room. I decided I was far too hungry and not tired enough to sleep so I woke mom, told her I was going to find some food (to which I was told I better not leave the hotel!). I ended up in the bar of the hotel with a bowl of [DELICIOUS] goulash and a Coke Light. Sat for about a half an hour listening to a Jazz ensemble and just reveling in the fact that - I am here. I am in Budapest. And I am here for two years.

Good God I hope I like this place!

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