Our European Odyssey

This blog covered our month-long trip to Eastern Europe -- specifically the countries of Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Grandma's Home Cooking

The home cooking came late in the day. The morning didn't start so wonderfully, however. We planned to go to the Esceri Flea Market to check out the local wares. This seemed like a simple task, though it involved four switches on public transportation. After we finally got on the bus that was supposed to take us to the flea market, we never saw it. We kept riding until we got to another market. We got out there and wandered around for a minute before realizing it was a produce market and not the flea market. We asked a woman (well, Andrea pointed to the flea market's name in our guidebook) whether we were going the right way and found out we needed to turn around. So back on the bus we went. But it was the wrong bus. We needed Bus 54, and this was Bus 54GY. Easy mistake to make, but we ended up heading the wrong way. Anyway, we never found the flea market but did find a metro stop that took us back to the city center.

After that crazy adventure, we headed to Castle Hill. To get there, we crossed the Chain Bridge on foot. It's Budapest's oldest bridge and the best way to cross the Danube. After reaching the top of Castle Hill, we enjoyed spectacular views of the city's eastern side. We also enjoyed our first authentic Medieval castle, the Royal Palace. It was huge. Also on Castle Hill, we visited Matthias Church, which dates back to 1290 and was a Muslim mosque for a short time when the Ottomans controlled the city. Every square inch on the inside was covered with colorful designs and murals.

From Castle Hill, we decided to take a scenic tram ride through the Buda Hills to the Children's Railway, which really is run by children. We bought two tickets. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into. The ride was an uneventful, unscenic 45-minute trip through the forest. However, we did have the pleasure of sharing the train car with a class of noisy junior high kids on a field trip. Unbeknownst to us, we could not get back to the station we started from, and we weren't sure how to get back to town. Andrea attempted to get help from four middle school-age railway workers who spoke very little English. She had quite a time, and the boys must have been amused by us dumb Americans. But they really wanted to help and managed to direct us to a nearby cograil station. From there, we managed to get back into the city.

Even though we got lost twice today, we enjoyed ourselves. You don't have these kinds of adventures every day.

Back on the home front, our two teenage hosts went out tonight, so it was just us and Grandma. She fixed us a delicious pork and sauerkraut dish with a sour cream and paprika topping. She speaks no English, but between our guidebook and the old Hungarian-English primer she found, we were able to have a choppy yet amusing conversation. We'd like to adopt her as our Hungarian grandmother.

Speaking of the language barrier, we knew that bottled water here is very commonly carbonated, and we intended to avoid buying it. However, that's easier said than done when you don't speak the language. We scrutinized the labels and thought we picked regular old bottled water. But we were wrong. It was not only carbonated but also fortified with calcium and magnesium, which gave it a dirty taste.

Also in our grocery store adventure, Jake picked up what he thought was yogurt for lunch. He failed to notice that the container said "sour cream." Oh well. It was almost as yummy as the kefir he bought. (Kefir is a fermented yogurt-like food.) They both went relatively uneaten.

Last but not least, Jake checked his grades today. He had three A's and a B+, giving him a cumulative college GPA of 3.940, which means he earned summa cum laude honors. Andrea would just like to add that her cumulative GPA was 3.943.


At 4:39 PM, May 19, 2006, Anonymous Shannon said...

Hello from London-
Mom and I have finally returned to our point of origin-and yes I am feeling better!

Your trip sounds lovely-I am almost jealous...

Love you,

At 8:20 PM, May 19, 2006, Anonymous Andrea's Mom said...

It sounds like you had an adventurous day. The memories will be priceless. I enjoy reading about your adventures and sharing them.

Love you both,

At 8:34 PM, May 19, 2006, Anonymous Rick and Lou said...

Your day was challenging but what fun. The paprika sauerkraut pork sounds yummy. Bring grandma home with you!!

Congratulations on the GPA. (Your dad's best recollection of his cummulative GPA was that it was 3.944. Though we may have trouble documenting that.)

I am packed for Georgia and Florida. Kari is picking me up at 4 a.m.

We love hearing from you. Keep the adventures coming.

Love Mom and Dad

At 8:41 PM, May 19, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has jet lag caught up with you two yet?? You really hit the ground running. Keep the pics and news coming. And Andrea -- you go girl on that GPA!


At 7:21 AM, May 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Andrea & Jake,
It sounds like you're having a wonderful time. What better way to get to see the city then to get lost. We really enjoy hearing about your adventures. It feels like we're there with you. Keep them coming.


At 10:08 AM, May 20, 2006, Anonymous Doug and Rose said...

MU has obviously prepared you well for life as world travelers -- 3.9 GPA's and you can't find the right bus.

Sounds like you are having a wonderful adventure. Your pictures look great - maybe you can find a gig with National Geographic. Reading your blog has become part of our morning routine and can't wait for the next exciting installment.

Doug and Rose


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