Entry 12 – May 22, 2010
Hey everyone. Here is another update. The notes I have been taking have slowly become less thorough and some days were completely omitted, so just assume not much interesting happened if a date is left out. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Note: I have not had a chance to add pictures to this post yet, but will be pretty busy for the next two weeks, so I thought I should post the text and the just get the pictures up when I can. Stay tuned for those.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
As per usual, I slept in a bit in the morning. This has become the norm, so from now on I’m not calling it sleeping in but will call the previous “on time” early.
Upon gaining consciousness, I went to the ESN office to register for the Krakow trip. There were supposedly not many slots left, so I want to get there right when they opened at 10. Unfortunately, no one showed up at the office until after 11:30. Luckily we had our laptops and full batteries so we were able to get some work done sitting in the hallway. After we bought our tickets, I think there were about 2 or 3 spots left, so it was good that we went when we did.
For lunch, Matt wanted to buy something at the cafeteria, so I brought my bagged lunch and joined him there. We bumped into one of the other ESN students there, Fatma, and joined her for lunch. She had to leave pretty shortly and ended up leaving a bowl of soup almost completely untouched. At this point I was left with somewhat of a moral/social dilemma: had she offered the left over food, I would have had no qualms eating it, but had I found food left on a table by a stranger I wouldn’t dare eat it. This situation fell squarely in the middle of those other clearly defined situations. Being the kind of person that hates to see food go to waste, I eventually decided there would be no harm enjoying her soup, though I definitely sat there debating the situation with myself for a good 5 or 10 minutes before I made up my mind. It was actually quite good (and makes for a nice embarrassing story). Fatma, if you read this, I hope that was ok!
After lunch we decided we were better off trying to work somewhere other than the lab as we would have spent about 45 min of our 2 hours of time before language class just walking there and back. We found some benches in the hall near class and set to work. The team at that point was starting to come together quite nicely.
In the evening, Matt had a few friends that had been studying in Germany come and visit. They had spent a few weeks backpacking Europe by that point and they had some really funny stories such as sleeping in a McDonald’s Play Place and paying a hotel to sleep on the couch in the lobby. They spent a couple nights with us while they explored Budapest.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
(Again, sorry for the gap, but I guess nothing all that important happened in there.) As soon as we got to the lab, we basically walked in and walked back out. It was just sweltering in there, so we worked in the hall the whole day. In the evening we made Vietnamese chicken for supper and it turned out pretty good. Having some bananas that were going bad and a whole lot of peanut butter supplied by Amara, I decided to make peanut butter banana cookies. They were quite delicious and I got compliments on them from all the people I shared them with. I might have to reuse the recipe some time.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
This was basically an average day. However, I found out in the evening that the next morning we had to be at school by 5 AM, not PM as I had previously thought, in order to catch the bus to Krakow. Since it was already late when I discovered this, I decided to just go to bed and pack in the morning.
Friday, April 16, 2010
I woke up SUPER early to go to Krakow. I think I got up around 3:45 AM. I quickly packed and stumbled out the door. Normally these ESN events start much later than advertised, but this time everybody was there on time except for one student. Someone called her and woke her up. She had also thought it was PM, so she was not packed. The ESN mentors decided to give her 15 minutes to get to the bus, so she quickly packed and ran to the bus and got there in exactly 15 minutes. I don’t know how she did it.
After driving for a short while, we stopped somewhere in Slovakia and just sat there for a while. Normally when we were stopping for breaks, everyone would get off the bus and stretch or use the washroom, but here they told us to stay put. We ended stopped there for over an hour. I think what happened was the bus driver was trying to buy a ticket that would let him use the highway, but the system had recently changed. The new system required a special GPS system that logged the distance travelled and billed the driver accordingly. Unfortunately, the driver of our bus did not have proper documentation to prove that he was associated with the bus company and the language barrier between the Hungarian and Slovakian.
The views along the drive were great. There were lots of hills full of trees with occasional villages mixed in. There was one super steep, super tall hill that had a very old castle perched on top. It was almost as if the castle had grown out of the hill. It was very fairy tale/Disney like.
Around 3 we got to the salt mines. They were way better than I had imagined. First, to get into the mine, we had to walk down some 55 half flights of stairs. They were quite narrow. Once we were in the actual mining tunnels, there were tons of carvings in the salt that the miners had done. There were a couple statues done by professional artists, but they were all really good. There were also a number of chapels down there, one of which was HUGE and still has mass regularly and is often used for weddings. There was a sound and light show type thing in that chapel too. I snuck a video of it that I might post later. Throughout the caves, there were also a number of museum like exhibits set up.
Our tour guide made a number of jokes, though I don’t recall many specifically. She was talking about how healthy the air was in the caves and that people use it for therapy; they come into the cave and walk around, singing for several hours at a time to increase breathing. After that comment, she joked that she was over 100 (she was obviously in her late 20’s).
At one point there was a fairly large pit. The tour guide said they used to have a lake there with boat tours, but one day a bunch of Russian soldiers were a bit too rowdy and ended up flipping their boat. 7 people got trapped under the boat and drowned, so they had the lake drained and have not had such tours since.
There was one other lake in the mine that we saw that held some sort of world record, though I do not recall what it was. A different world record I do remember is the worlds highest underground bungee jump which took place in a room that had a very high ceiling.
Throughout the whole thing, mostly at the end, there were souvenir shops everywhere, all carrying pretty much the same stuff. I know it was a tourist location, but it still seemed overdone to me. One neat thing they were selling was a lamp that was a large piece of hollowed out salt which I kind of liked.
After the mines, we dropped all our stuff off at the hostel and went out for supper. We were served a soup and some cabbage and sausage dish that was alright. It looked kind of strange, though, and I found myself craving some sort of desert afterwards. After supper a few of us wanted to find a coffee shop or something while everyone else went to find a pub/bar/klub. On our way, one of the girls noticed that her wallet was missing. She was convinced she dropped it, but I think everyone else assumed it was picked. She had pretty big open pockets in her puffy jacket, so it wouldn’t have been a challenge. Well, she was pretty upset over it and was running all over trying to find it. We helped her look for a little while and then just decided to go back to the hostel.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Following breakfast we went for a walking tour of Krakow which was very interesting. There was a cathedral where a bunch of kings and heroes were buried, including even the president who had just died in the plane crash, if I heard correctly. Outside the cathedral there were some bones hanging above the entrance. They were said to be parts of a dragon, though they were really from a whale, rhino, and some other large animal. As the story goes, the world will end when those bones fall.
Following the tour, we went to try and find some lunch. We were in a group of at least 20 people and we all went into one restaurant. They gave us a group discount of 10%, which was nice of them. I ate some pirogies and a grilled veggie and chicken salad. Paying the bill was interesting. We came up short, after including a tip, and when trying to figure things out with 20 people it is virtually impossible to know where the missing money was. Initially I had forgotten to pay for my drink, so I sorted that out, but there was still a bunch missing. Eventually a few of us that were 100% confident we had payed more than our share already just left and let the rest of them sort out the remainder. We had been trying to get everything straightened out and it wasn’t working, so we just let them do it. There was enough money there to pay for the meal and most of the tip, so worst case scenario, we were bad tippers.
After lunch, we just did our own wandering throughout the town. We checked out some of the things that were going on in the main square for the president’s funeral. In the nearby marketplace I found myself a Krakow pin that nicely fit with my simple, mono-coloured theme. Julia’s mom collects Polish pottery, and we found a shop completely full of perfect examples of what she wanted, but they were closed.
Eventually we found ourselves in the Jewish district, but just as we got there we realized that we had barely enough time to get back to the hostel for supper, so we had to turn around. Supper was another soup, followed by chicken with some mashed potatoes (my first batch of mashed this whole trip, I’m pretty sure) with some salad, and then apple pie for dessert. Most people were super full for some reason (they probably had a snack thinking supper would be small like the previous night) and so I was the only one who finished my whole meal, as well as someone else’s whole dessert. The pie was very good, so I pretty much had to do it.
As we were leaving the restaurant, the ESN mentors told us to go to the neighbouring convenience store to buy our beer for the night (in case the pubs were closed due to the funeral) as well as to buy our lunch for the next day. They also told us that the next morning, after breakfast we were going to Auschwitz. Some guy on inline skates yelled something to the effect of “Auschwitz? After breakfast? Are you crazy?!” and then he rolled away as fast as he could. That basically became the catch phrase for the rest of the trip, and variations of the theme have still been used since then.
After the instructions for the next day were given, a few of us went to the Jewish district again. It took us longer than we had thought to get there and again had to turn around almost immediately, but it was a really good walk with lots of talking and getting to know each other.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
For breakfast, it was pretty much the same story as the day before, after which we headed to the concentration camp. I found that it didn’t really hit me very hard, but I suppose that it did make things more real for me. The photos they had up on the walls and the belongings taken from the prisoners were probably what did it. There was one room with a tank full of several tonnes of human hair that had been found after the Allies rescued the prisoners; it was used to make the lining of the Nazi’s coats as well as wigs and other such things.
After another long bus ride home (9 hours for 300 km, thanks to the winding, hilly roads and frequent, mandatory stops from the driver (supposedly he had to stop for at least 30 minutes every 2 hours)) we arrived back at Ferenciek Tere close to midnight, from which we walked home.
Monday, April 19, 2010
After the late night, I slept in, worked from home a bit, then went to our classes. Our 5 page culture paper was due in 2 weeks and our language exam was two days after that. We had to also prepare a short presentation about the topic of our culture paper. It was very evident that the academic part of this adventure was nearing it’s end. Sunny also informed us that his last day of work was going to be the next Monday. In the evening, we went out for Cam’s birthday dinner and then back to Cam and Andrew’s flat for a bit of a party. They had beer pong setup again and Anthony and Adrian were the reigning champs, but Matt and I took them out in our first game and probably went for just about as long as they did before they got back up in the rotation and took the title back from us, but everybody left shortly after to go to Morrison’s. I went back home and had a lovely Skype call with Amara.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
At work we started testing our team against the previous years’ teams. Ours seemed to be doing quite well!
After work, we got together all of our stuff for our residence permit (our 90 days was ending the next day). We went to our flat agency and they pretty much took care of all the things that we didn’t have yet, though it ended up costing us more than we originally thought it would. However, $150 is a small price to pay for being able to stay in Europe (we had heard some horror stories such as people being banned from the EU for 10 years, so we didn’t want that, hence our change of mind regarding getting the permit). We were told to come back on Friday to pick up some things that they couldn’t give us right away. We were getting a little nervous at that point, so we were hoping all went well.
On the way home, we got some ice cream at a little booth outside McDonald’s and then Sunny had Martha over for supper to teach her how to make butter chicken. I helped too, though I forget all the steps.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
We finally got a call from our internet provider and scheduled an appointment for the next day for them to come and fix the internet. Matt went to the Opera in the evening (Romeo and Juliet ballet) and Sunny went out to party, making the most of his last days in Budapest.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Again, we stayed home to work. We didn’t want to miss the cable guy. Out team was working very well and beating or tying with all the other teams. We decided that, as per our prof’s request, we would branch off from that common team and make our own unique teams, and then after that we would merge everything back into one super team which we would use for the basis of our final report.
The cable guy showed up around 4, almost 3 hours late. He got the internet working almost right away, but I guess it wasn’t fast enough (that was the issue we were having before it died completely) so he swapped out the modem. After fiddling with my router (erasing all the settings in the process, which I wasn’t too happy about) for well over an hour, he told me I had to buy a new router and then clone my laptop’s MAC address to it for it to work. Since the internet was working on my machine, I was happy enough with his work and so he went on his way. About a minute later, I had my router working again with the modem. I have it hacked with 3rd party firmware, so I wasn’t really expecting anyone to be able to configure it easily, but it was a very simple thing to clone the MAC address. I’ll just blame it on the language barrier.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Another day of working from home. We wanted to do our residence permits ASAP once we heard back from our flat agency, but they never ended up calling. As far as work was concerned, we ran the new tournament with our team which performed alright, but not as well as we would have liked; we figured our individual teams would fix the small issues.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
This was another early morning day. We got up early to catch a boat to Szentendre, a nearby Hungarian town. Sunny had told us the boat was leaving at 10 am, so we were madly rushing to get to Anthony’s place (he knew where the boat was) and found out when we got there that the boat left at 10:30. Anthony knew Sunny was confused, but since Sunny tends to be late, he just let him think that, which ended up being a good plan since we would have been late for the 10:00 boat.
From Anthony’s, we took our time getting to the boat and were boarded by about 10:10. No one else we were expecting to meet were at the boat yet, so Sunny started making some calls and got Martha rushing to the dock. At 10:31 she arrived; Sunny had got the deck hand guy to wait for a couple extra minutes. We eventually realized that there were actually two docks in Budapest that the boat was picking up passengers and that Martha was originally going to the other one. Since the other one left later, she would have easily been on time for it, but at least she got on.
We got to Szentendre around noon and went off to find some lunch. One of the girls (from Germany, I think) had been there the previous week only for about half an hour (she had organized this event in order to come back) and brought us all to this great little restaurant hidden in the center of town. The food was great, the waiter (who I suspect may have also been the owner, based on a few things he said) was super helpful, the view from our table outside was picturesque; I’m very glad we went there for lunch.
After lunch, we spent a couple hours just walking around and taking pictures. The city is very beautiful with all its old buildings and great looking trees. Our group slowly started breaking apart as different people wanted to see different thigns. At one point, our group was mostly still together, but three of us wanted to get some Lángos (basically deep fried dough with some sort of topping, usually sour cream and cheese, or something sweet such as jam or icing sugar). The Lángos place was in a really tight alley, so just the 3 of us went up there to get some, plus Sunny who just wanted to join keep us company. The line was pretty long and the alley crowded, so Sunny went back to the main courtyard to wait for us, but by the time he got back, the rest of the group was already gone.
We got our Lángos (it was REALLY good) and then kept walking around. Martcha was eventually wanting to stop as she had got a lot of sun and was a bit burnt. and Sunny was just tired so he wanted to stop too, but Anthony and I wanted to keep walking around, so we broke off and kept going. Eventually we left the touristy area and the rest of the town looked pretty nice too; it may have even reminded me slightly more of Winnipeg, though I can’t explain why.
I’m not often one to spend much time with people one on one, especially people I don’t already know really well, but I had a good time hanging out with Anthony. We got back to the boat with about 15 minutes to spare before it was to leave and found the rest of the group already there. On the boat ride back, we took turns playing some game on Anthony’s iPhone; I was doing second best, just barely behind Anthony (I think I ended up being 1 point less than him, with his record being up in the 150 area).
We got back to Budapest at 6. We were super close to where the 100 Wonders exhibit was, so I quickly ran in to buy myself a copy of CubiCup. The lady at the shop counter didn’t speak english, but she called someone over who kind of did to help her out. I picked out the “brown and gold” set, as it was described to me. They were having trouble translating the word they thought was gold, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It ended up being more of an orange than a gold and I am really happy with the set I got.
When we got home, I found a lovely letter in the mail box from Amara and, after reading it, had to leave right away to go for dinner with, as it turned out, almost all of the international students at an all you can eat and drink restaurant. I left the restaurant a little early so I could Skype with Amara. I was full anyway, so I didn’t miss out on any food. After staying up far too late chatting (and working on the previous blog entry) I went to bed.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
After forgetting to set an alarm, I ended up sleeping until 2pm. I hate sleeping in that late as I just feel awful for the rest of the day. I finished up that blog post, had poutine for supper, attempted to do some ground work for the culture paper, and then called it a day.
Monday, April 26, 2010
First thing in the morning, we trekked off to the immigration office. We went to one building at first and were sitting in a waiting room, and after a few minutes noticed that the sign on the door did not seem right. We asked and found out we were in the wrong building of the complex. We hurried over to the correct one and sat waiting there for at least an hour. When we were finally let in, they told us we needed authorization forms from our flat manager and to get our lease extended. They only offer residence permits for a minimum of 3 months, and our lease contract was not valid for that long a period, so we had to get some sort of proof that we could stay in our flat if need be. Sunny was told that he didn’t need to bother getting his as he was leaving earlier than we were and was leaving for Greece the next day, so he didn’t really have a chance to get it anyway.
Since things took longer than we thought, we had to skip our language class and went straight to culture. Matt was the only person ready to give his presentation, so for the rest of the class we just continued talking about Hungarian culture.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
I managed to sleep in pretty late again and then went straight to our flat manager’s to get the needed papers. Not much else happened that day.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
We went to the immigration office again. Our flat manager gave us the paper work for the wrong flat and they didn’t take the note we were given saying we could extend our lease at any time. The immigration office just got the flat manager to fax the proper form over. We were a bit nervous, but it was out of our hands at that point, so we just decided to wait and see.
After immigration stuff, we went to work for a bit, then went to our language class.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
After another day of working on the project, we went out to Margaret Island to play frisbee with a bunch of people. For supper I tried making some orange chicken dish Amara had done when she was here. I tried adding orange slices while cooking the thing, but they tasted quite bitter. Amara generally uses canned mandarins, not these run of the mill oranges that I uses, so that was likely the culprit.
Monday, April 26 to Sunday, May 2, 2010
Basically all week I was up late working on my paper, procrastinating, or Skyping Amara. I was probably up until 2 am every night.
I wrote pretty much the entire paper Sunday, as well as doing a large portion of the research. It wasn’t the best paper I ever wrote, but since the primary audience wasn’t a native English speaker, I was fine with it.
Monday, May 3, 2010
I went to work in the morning, but ended up pretty much just working on my paper and printing it off. We went to our (last) language class, and then went to culture. I handed in my paper and did my presentation. The presentation went fairly well and I even had someone come up to me after class specifically to tell me how much they liked mine. Not bad for something I prepared in the half our of free time I had prior to the class.
In the evening, I started to feel as though I was coming down with something…
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
I wasn’t feeling so good, so I stayed home from work. We tested our teams against all the previous teams. We had the one root team we had based our versions on, then we each had our own version, and then we had merged things back. Part of Matt’s change made the code run pretty slow, so both his version and the merged version also had a “fast mode” which just had this section disabled. All together, that made 6 teams we had to test against everyone else’s. My team was able to beat all the other teams, and did so by a significant margin.
In the evening, I studied language for a little while. Sunny and Sharon got back from Greece.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
We stayed home from work again to study (and so I could try to catch up on some sleep). I was feeling quite awful, but went to school to write the exam anyway. Pretty much every term I end up getting sick just before exams and have one exam that I write while feeling just completely awful. Going into that exam I am usually pretty confident that I will fail pretty bad, but walk out as one of the first to finish, feeling really good about the exam. This was no exception.
On my way home from the exam, I got a call from the immigration office saying that our residence permits were ready to be picked up, which was a huge relief.
When I got home, I took a nap while Sunny cleaned up the flat. In the evening, Sunny had a going away party here and lots of people came over. I think we counted around 40 at one point, And I think our flat is only 69 m^2 (and no one was in the bedrooms, which is a large portion of our flat). At almost 1 am, the cops came and kicked everyone out, which was fine with me because I just wanted to go to bed. Thankfully they didn’t fine us or anything.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
It was Sunny’s last full day in Budapest. I slept in to try to recover from the illness. We spent the rest of the day hanging out with Sunny. Matt, Sharon, Sunny, and I went to Dona Lele for supper.
Friday, May 7, 2010
I slept in a little, then went to do some sightseeing with Sunny and Sharon. We went to Buda Castle and rode the thing that takes you up the hill (funacular? I forget the name). After that, we went to Margaret Island briefly to hang out with a bunch of people. One of Cam’s friends from Canada (who had come to do some travelling with Cam) brought a real ultimate disc that was much better than the cheap, garbage frisbee that we found in our flat. Sunny said his goodbyes to everyone there, popped a bottle of champaigne (I tried it, it wasn’t awful; I had two sips before I dumped the rest, which is the most I’ve ever consumed of any alcoholic drink), and then we went back to our flat. Sunny and Sharon’s cab came shortly there after and then they were off to the airport. Miguel had come back to our flat too, so we hung out with him for a while. He showed us some Mexican dancing videos (one had a guy pretty much using a girl as a nun-chuck) and we introduced him to Google Street View.
Saturday, May 8 and Sunday, May 9, 2010
It was a pretty uneventful weekend.
Monday, May 10, 2010
We went to pick up our residence permits first thing in the morning. After that, we went and got our grade sheet from the lady in charge of our program and went around to collect our grades. I got a 4 in language and a 5 in culture (both out of 5). The prof in charge of our project also gave us a grade of 5, but I don’t think that grade actually means anything. We worked on our report for a few hours in the middle of the day between picking up grades.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
We returned our grade sheet to our program coordinator and then went to work on our report. A lady from a US college asked us some questions about our time here. I think she was evaluating the program before their school sent anyone over.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
We decided to work from home and got a lot of work done on the report. We had poutine for supper and somehow made way too much. We each put half of ours in the fridge for the next day’s lunch.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
We worked from home again, largely so we could easily eat poutine.
We also discovered the course list for the next year at our home university had been posted, so I looked int my curse lad for the next year; it looks like if I take the courses that actually interest me, it would be 2 courses in the first term and 5 int he second, but taking a different science elective (which looks slightly less interesting, but should be about 100 times easier) would make it 3 and 4 instead. Next year should be pretty good.
In the evening, I went to see the movie “The Road” with Tuomas and Gerard. I really liked it. It was just my kind of movie. It was a bit sad, but it was all about the plot, not some action movie for the sake of being an action movie.
Just prior to the movie I had “Narancsos Túró” gelati which was SUPER good. I think that means “oranges and cheese”, but maybe it meant something along the lines of creamsicle.
Friday, May 14, 2010
We went in to work as our last day officially being in the lab. We collected all the files anyone might need if they wanted to work on the project in the future and put it on the server, along with a few video clips of our teams playing against others. I gave our prof a bottle of maple syrup Amara had brought that we didn’t end up using. He was quite happy with it.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
It was a mostly relaxing day, then towards the end we decided we should probably be planning some travelling during our one full week of free time. We decided on going to Zagreb, Croatia, picked a train to take, and decided to play it by ear after that.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
We went to the train station around noon to get our train ticket, which seemed quite expensive to me. When we got to the train, I realized she had given us round trip tickets, so that helped us decide not to wander too far from Zagreb. We boarded the train just about half an hour before it was supposed to leave, but ended up sitting there for quite some time. Some others on the train were saying there were some delays, so we quickly hopped off the train, bought some lunch (we had forgotten to eat and it was going to be at least 6 hours on the train) and then rushed back on, but we still had another hour or so before the train finally left. Overall, it was two and a half hours late. For us, that was just inconvenient, but others on the train had to make a connecting train, so they were quite concerned.
Eventually we got to Zagreb just before 11 pm. We found a hostel and they had a twin room available, which was perfect. It was a little on the expensive side, but it was a private room and it was all newly renovated, so it was fine. Since it was so late, we just skipped dinner and went to bed.
Monday, May 17, 2010
We got up at 9 and went for “breakfast” at a sandwich shop called “Pengvin.” I had a vegi burger that was pretty good. For the rest of the day we just wandered the city. We found a telecomm and postal museum that was kind of interesting. We also found a crazy park that seemed hundreds of years old. As we were wandering near the residential area, we found some weird stairs and decided to climb them. They started off kind of like someone’s back lane, then it was almost like we were in someone’s back yard, but then we ended up in some forest looking part of the neighbourhood. Compared to Budapest, there was quite a surprising amount of green space throughout the city.
For supper, we found a restaurant in the tour guide book we got at the hostel. I went with the “boiled cottage cheese” (pretty much pirogies) and stuffed chicken breast. Following that we went to the bus station to try and buy tickets to the Plitvice National Park. We were pretty much just looking for some answers to some questions, but within a few seconds we had tickets bought already.
For the evening, we went to some jazz show (Ray Anderson and his Pocket Brass Band) at their concert hall. Having brought minimal clothing, we looked a bit out of place in t-shirts and jeans, but the show was pretty good. They were a bit too experimental for me, though. Coming back from the show, some guy on the street stopped us and started asking for money because he was just visiting from Bosnia and needed money to stay at the Red Cross. We gave him some change. Who knows if he was honest or not, though. He was trying to give us his phone in exchange for the money, but I suppose it could have been lifted.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
We got up pretty early to make our 8:30 bus. The ride was about 2.5 hours and we got off at a pretty small looking stop. We looked around and eventually saw something that said “entrance” and walked towards it. Once we got there, it actually looked like a tourist place, so we were a bit relieved. The park was extremely beautiful. There was a big winding path all through the park, over some of the lakes, winding through the trees. There were a few different paths that could be taken depending on how long you wanted to spend there. We picked one of medium length. The fact that there were so many touristy buildings at the entrance and in the middle of the paths I found slightly disappointing, but it was handy when we got hungry for lunch. Matt ordered chicken and ended up with, literally, half a chicken, cut straight down the middle.
To get back home, we were told to just wait at the bus stop and then pay the driver. We did that (the bus was almost half an hour early and did not wait) and when we paid, we did not get tickets. We did get back fine though.
We got back a bit early, so we got some food, changed some money, and went to see the Budapest Orchestra at the concert hall. We walked in just in time, though. The were just starting to play when we sat down. We were far more out of place at this show; everyone else was in suits and dresses. The orchestra and choir were very good, though.
Matt was sitting next to a blind guy and the guy asked Matt something in Croatian, and we didn’t understand so we just kind of kept walking (this was during intermission). Matt didn’t realize he was blind at the time. Later we saw him being guided around by various people, so he probably just wanted help getting out of the hall.
At the end of the show, the director and the lead vocalist walked off and onto stage about 5 or 6 times because people kept clapping. It was quite strange. He did that a bit between songs too, but usually only once.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
We decided we had probably seen enough in Zagreb, so we went to check out the train times at the station. There was one leaving around 4 in the afternoon, so that left us plenty of time to check out the technology museum. They had a bunch of cool stuff there, but probably the most interesting thing was the Nicola Tesla exhibit. Normally they only give the demonstration for large groups, but Matt and I were there, plus a Tesla freak from Holland, so they offered to show us everything. Since it was such a small group, there was a chance to do a lot of discussing things. Nikola Tesla was a crazy smart guy. He was able to do things over a hundred years ago that we can barely do today, if at all. Unfortunately, capitalist society wasn’t too happy with his ideas of free energy for everyone, so much of his work never saw widespread use. A lot of society today has significant Tesla influences though; AC power in our homes and wireless transmissions, just to name a few.
After the museum, we went for pizza at another place recommended in the little book we had. I had a vegetarian pizza with cauliflower, carrots, peas, and spinach on it, among other things. It was good. After finding food, we went to a big farmers market to find myself another pin. This one has some colour in it, but it is still nicely subdued. I am now at 4 pins, and expect to get a few more next week.
On the train ride back, we were told to get on a specific car of the train, which we found a little odd, but were happy to do so. When we got to the border, we were told there would be a delay as there was another train on the tracks. About half an hour later, we started moving… in the opposite direction. At first we thought we were just maneuvering around something, but we never turned around. I’m not sure how that worked, but we did get back to Budapest.
Thursday, May 20 and Friday, May 21, 2010
These were mostly relaxing days. Friday night was the ESN Fairwell Gala, which consisted of dinner at a fancy all you can eat place. It was probably the last time I’ll see most of those people.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
I worked on this blog post most of the day. Early in the morning, though, we got someone ringing our doorbell. It was Andrew, who had lost his keys the night before. When he left the flat in the morning to try and find them, he left his spare in the flat, so he just came over to hang out until the restaurant opened again. He eventually got them back and then just hung out here for much of the afternoon.