Morning Glory [Oasis]

Friday, September 18, 2009

[1 September 2009]

Hungarian of the Day: “Here you go!”



This is an awesome word, which was taught to me by a new friend (from Tennessee!) as the most useful word in Hungarian. And it very much seems to be. It’s uses include, but are not limited to: “Here you go!” (when handing something to someone); “Come in!” (when answering the door); “What else can I do for you?” (when in a shop); “Take a seat!” (when pointing to a chair); “Pardon?” (excuse me?); and more. It’s a handy word, and now that I know it I hear it everywhere. You're right Scott, it is quite the word.


Early to rise today - alarm went off at about 7am and I needed to finnish packing! With my little rolling bag in tow I headed out to the bus with a banana and a piece of toast with nutella in hand (sad story is that the nutella toast eventually fell out of my hand and had a tragic death on the sidewalk outside!). So we boarded the bus - me, Sona, and Laura took up the back bench of seats with a boy from Hungary named Lazlo. After waiting on a few stragglers we finally got rolling.

The bus took us on a winding path through the Hungarian countryside - which I imagine wold be very beautiful in the middle of summer. There are fields that must be a hundred acres large entirely covered with sunflowers (MF, you would be in heaven!) right next to ones covered with corn and then again right next to other crops. Too bad in early September they were all mostly dead and no longer the bright beautiful sunflowers they were. It was neat to get a perspective of the country that wasn’t just of

the city - the landscape is mostly flat here. There’s a “mountain range” which could be translated into a set of small hills - but they still dot the horizon. There were wildflowers blooming along the roads and trees everywhere. I didn’t realized I missed the countryside! I guess after 18 years in NH and 6 years in NC and NH you really grow accustomed to nature!

Our first stop was in a small village called Jászbérny at a museum where the prize possession was this horn called the “Lehel’s Horn.” It was a cute little museum that contained mostly history of the town and some Hungarian history. The most exciting parts were the horn itself and a statue of Lenin they had in the courtyard. The horn is an old symbol of the ruler of the town (the mayor, if you will). It was used during all ceremonies - the mayor would hold it and make his speech and then would drink wine from it. There’s a small legend about some ruler who was being held captive and was

sentenced to die asked to play his horn once more - and was allowed to do so. But instead of playing his horn he used it to crack the emperor who had sentenced him to death over the head and killing him. There’s even a crack and a piece missing out of the horn to prove it! Aside from the use of it - it’s actually quite beautiful. Ivory (I think) decorated with carvings of people, animals, plants, and more. It’s quite intricate - but they said it’s a fabrication. There’s no way it could actually be the horn of the ancient legends, but rather one built to live up to the legends (I mean, it’s still insanely old and has been used for centuries, but there’s no way it can date back to Hungary’s birth).

And the statue of Lenin is kind of awesome because it was one that used to be out on the street when Hungary was under Soviet rule. There’s this huge debate going on over what to do with these statues - it’s a part of the history that’s not fun and

you don’t really want to leave the statues as a memorial. So many places are saving them as pieces of art (because they’re rather intricate and detailed) and as history. Because if you throw away reminders of history you can’t throw away the history with it. People need reminders of the past so that they will not repeat it. That aside, this was quite the friendly little Lenin statue! Seated on a park bench, he’s just inviting you to come have a sit next to him and chat away your afternoon.

So we got back on the bus and headed for our next stop - a cute little Romanesque church in a tiny village called Jánoshida. It’s one of the only surviving churches of its kind in the plains. It was a really nice church that was partially restored/excavated to

show the older parts. It’s still a functioning church for the village so they’re very proud of their history. There’s a small portion of one wall that’s been taken out to show some of the old stone carvings that were originally in the wall. It was really neat to see. What was even nicer was the man and woman who run the church were there to show us some things and they made us food! They had water (with gas, oh well) and these little biscuits called pogácsa. Pogásca are a traditional Hungarian scone/biscuit/roll things that come in many varieties (both of toppings and “stuffings”). They’re almost always small (5ish centimeters in diameter). These ones were the more traditional ones, just the basic roll-ish thing with a cheese baked onto the top. Delicious. And also so sweet of these people to feed us on our trip! I mean, I know it was really just a snack - but they decided to bake a whole bunch of these traditional treats for a large group of mostly foreign visitors. I think it was sweet.

Next we stopped at this little town (of which the name escapes me at this moment) just to have lunch and a small break. It was a cute little town situated on the Tisza river, which is one of the major rivers of Central Europe (it actually ends when it falls into hte Danube in Hungary). It was a cute town, we walked up to the river and took a look before settling on a small restaurant. Here I had a salad (finally!) which consisted of lettuce, tomatoes, some other vegetables and mozzarella. It was divine - mainly because I LOVE mozzarella.

Our next stop was a visit to the homestead of this guy called Miklos Horty, who is a big figure in the birth of Hungary and revolution and such. His story is really interesting and I recommend reading the Wikipedia article on him. What's funny is that this house is now being used as a dormitory for a

magnet-type school, so we walked through the halls to check out some rooms while these teens were playing cards and pool and looking at us like we were crazy. And they listened a lot too because they don't hear a lot of English. Basically they were very confused by our presence - and we were confused as to why we were walking through a boarding school!

Once back on the bus we made our way to our last stop - Tiszafüred - which is a small town on the river Tisza. During the bus ride me and my partner made some notes about what our skit was to be (and also talked about the absurdity of making graduate students do skits just to get to know one another. Give us a few thousand Forints and send us to a bar - we’ll all be fast friends in no time!) Here we made our way to our “camping site” - a term that had us scared from the moment we heard it. Camping? Seriously? When the bus pulled into the site we were afraid that they had forgotten to tell us we were actually camping - there were tents and mobile homes set up all over the place. Fortunately for us (and unfortunately at the same time) we were actually to be staying in these little bungalow type buildings. Which are not as cute or quaint as the term bungalow suggests. They’re pretty much tiny yellow cabins with couches that have been somehow converted to beds that are not that comfortable with a bathroom that was a little scary and a common room that we just used to throw our wet bathing suits. So after a quick survey of the building the four of us (Sona, Me, Kelly, and Laura) changes quickly to our bathing suits and made our way back to the


Here the bus takes us to a park/public beach for the Tisza river. When someone offers you the opportunity to swim in a river you may very well never return to, you take it. But, we had also been mislead to believe that this river contained some natural hot springs. Nothing about this river was hot (nor warm, lukewarm, cool, or anything other than fricking freezing). But still, we swam. And by swam I mean we edged ourselves slowly into the water, determined to swim some (mind you, all the professors and some of the other students had run and jumped in and were all the way across the river by the time our big toes even touched the water). It’s been a while since I’ve swam in a lake/river. They’re dirty. At least at the beach you’ve got sand and the water moves enough that the floor of the ocean is pretty much solid and clear. Lakes have gross mushy bottoms and things floating around (gross! nature!). I stayed in for a short while and pranced back out to dry off.

Upon the return home we changed into clothes suitable for dinner and then took a short walk to the restaurant. Dinner was interesting - the traditional 3 course meal that seems to be very popular here (not this food exactly, but they’re big on “meals” where you pay a set price for soup/main course/dessert). I had chicken soup, baked chicken stuffed with plums, potatoes, bread, and some sort of cherry cakeish thing. The chicken stuffed with plums was a little much for me - I picked out most of the

plums and ate the chicken solo. As a side note, I am getting so tired of potatoes. They come with everything here. Dinner would have been rather pleasant except for the fact that the mosquitos in this town apparently love me. I was killing them left and right - and they were leaving almost everyone else at my table at home. Mosquitos in NC and NH don’t love me - apparently I am a tasty delicacy to these Madyar monsters!

After the return to the camp site we had a few minutes to finalize our skits, change (for me this meant cover as much of my body as possible to fend of the little buggers), and gather what props were necessary. Then we met back at the restaurant on the camping grounds for a wine tasting and skits. They had 6 types of wine starting with the lightest white wine and moving along to the deepest red wine (which is called “Bull’s Blood” and is a very dark, very strong red wine that is made from mixing a set of the best red wines of the season. This means that no two wineries will have the same tasting Bull’s Blood in a given year, nor will the Bull’s Blood at an individual winery taste the same from year to year). With the introduction of each wine came a speech on the origins of the wine, what food it was best served with and other aspects of the wine. Interspersed with the wine we performed our skits. Some were hilarious, some were not (you could tell we all thought it was dumb so the performances reflected that. They were either really short and boring or they were totally making fun of the characters). Our skit, however, was great.

We pretty much ad-libbed the whole thing. Here’s the synopsis: Queen Isabella (me) is approached by Columbus (Pavol) with the request to sail around the world. She shoots him down three times, he hangs his head in sadness and walks, dejected, out of the room. Isabella starts to eat her dinner, realizes it tastes like crap and is bland and calls Chris back. She demands he leave to find her some spices to make her food more edible. He enthusiastically runs out the room and goes on his adventure. Pause here for dramatic effect about how long this actually takes. Chris comes back in, shirtless and in Bermuda shorts (get it, he discovered islands in the Caribbean!), sunglasses, and a rolling suitcase “full of spices.” He is trailed by the other two American girls from our program (get it - he brought bak Americans?!). He presents the queen with her spices and announces “The dark ages are so over!”

And that’s why we came in second place :) We got a pen and this nifty little folder thing. Go us!

So after all the skits were over, all the nice bottles of wine drunken, we were presented with yet another couple vats of wine (remember the plastic jug of wine I talked about with the meeting on Sunday? They brought about 3 of those for this trip). So professors, students, and administrators sat around this outdoor restaurant until about 3am chatting about everything (from topics of medieval history, to the current state of banking in Hungary, to the problems associated with the construction of the fourth metro line in Budapest, to English poetry, and more). James, the English guy, even taught me the rules to Cricket. Something I’ve been dying to know for ages (seriously, I want to understand this crazy game). And now I mostly understand its concept and a chunk of the rules. Anyone want to play? And after that we made our way back to the bungalow and slept. It was a long day.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you all so much for your comments! I'm only happy when I have comments. Really. You are contributing to my future happiness right now! XOXO