Our European Odyssey

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

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Or, in English, hello. We just hope we've been pronouncing it right. We realized at the end of the day today that we've been mispronouncing the Hungarian word for "thank you." But everyone seemed to understand what we said and appreciate the fact that we made the effort.

Today was a busy day. We left before 7 a.m. and rode the suburban metro train to the city center. We walked down Andrassy Avenue, which is lined with some beautiful old houses and buildings.

At the end of Andrassy is Heroes' Square, which contains statues of several of the city's "heroes" from the past, primarily Hungarian kings from about 900 through 1300.

We then walked through City Park. While there, we spent some relaxing time at the Szechenyi thermal baths. There are indoor and outdoor pools of varying temperatures, and the water contains large amounts of minerals, supposedly a cure-all for what ails you. There were lots of elderly locals in skimpy Speedos and bikinis. Andrea packed her one-piece in the interest of not offending anyone by showing too much skin, but she was one of the few females not wearing a bikini. We were almost too relaxed when we left. We didn't feel like walking anywhere else.

But walk we did... We checked out a castle in City Park, built for the city's 1,000th year of existence. (It's neat being somewhere with things that old.) We then ventured to Great Market Hall, a huge market with many vendors selling produce, meats, pastries, crafts and more (including recently severed, very large catfish heads.) The food part was great -- like a huge farmers market. We bought two rolls, a hunk of cheese, two tomatoes and an apple for lunch. It was healthy and delicious. We enjoyed our meal in the park across the street and plan to buy lunch there again tomorrow.

Speaking of the produce, everything we have seen has looked like it could be in a photo shoot. The tomatoes were firm and juicy, the radishes were the biggest we have ever seen and there was a large variety of peppers (called paprika) to suit any taste. We also found out that Hungarians like to eat sauerkraut stuffed in about any kind of vegetable, especially peppers.

After lunch, we wanted to go to Margit Island, a large park in the middle of the Danube. This proved more difficult than we thought, as we got lost on public transportation a couple of times. It took some time, but luckily we have a three-day pass for public transportation in Budapest. The island itself was just all right, not much more than a big park.

We then caught the metro back to where we are staying. Grandma served us a dinner of fried sausages, creamed peas and bread. Dessert was an excellent apple German pancake-like dish with meringue on top. Superb.

After the day was over, we were able to reflect on a couple of interesting facts. First, Guns and Roses is apparently still together and performing in Eastern Europe. According to posters we saw, they will be in Budapest next week. Second, Chuck Norris is a pop culture hero here as well as at home, but the Hungarians spell his name Chauk Norjis. Third, it is amazing how small the cars are here. We saw one SUV today (a Jeep Grand Cherokee) and no non-work-related pickup trucks. The cars are small sub-compact vehicles. Fuel efficiency must be considered important here.

Last, we think that we are turning into conservative old farts. We have seen lots of teenagers making out and hanging all over each other in public. Apparently, public displays of affection don't have the same stigma here as in the U.S. We have been grossed out by it. We thought about yelling, "Get a room!" at one young couple but figured that if they didn't speak English, then they might think we were cheering them on.

Tomorrow, we plan to spend a third day in Budapest, focusing primarily on Castle Hill. We are going to try to post pictures again tonight, but if it doesn't work, we are going to try to find an Internet cafe tomorrow. Best wishes to everyone back home.


At 4:41 PM, May 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad you are enjoying yourself and eating well. How is the weather? It is finally rather pleasant here, sunny and not too hot. Looking forward to your next post.

Andrea's Mom

At 4:43 PM, May 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad you are enjoying yourself and eating well. How is the weather? It is finally rather pleasant here, sunny and not too hot. Looking forward to your next post.

Andrea's Mom

At 4:48 PM, May 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was worried about what happened to GNR -- they were the hot band when I was in highschool 20 years ago. So Hungary is where the has-been rock stars go.

I love you're blog. Thanks for adding to it every day. Dalton says "Hope you all are having fun way over there." He thinks the baths sound neat. So do I! Britty is in his Brit world as usual. Today was the last day of school -- he's still bouncing off the walls with excitement! (Those poor teachers.)

Mom and I are getting ready to leave on Saturday bright and early to take the boys to Florida! I don't know who's more excited -- me or the boys! We may have to find an interet cafe in Florida just to get caught up on your adventures. Take care!

Kari, Dalton, and Brit

At 9:14 PM, May 18, 2006, Anonymous lee said...

sounds like y'all is having fun. i'm enjoying the the blogs and pics. for some reason i find it hilarious that chuck norris is a pop icon over there. he is one bad dude. you mentioned that you wanted to experience some of the communist flavor while it was still around. this might be a reason why it is no more. here is a fact about chuck...Remember the Soviet Union? They decided to quit after watching a DeltaForce marathon on Satellite TV.


At 9:29 PM, May 18, 2006, Blogger Nichole said...

Giant radishes! Andrea must have been thrilled :)

At 10:22 PM, May 18, 2006, Anonymous Lou and Rick said...

The baths sound great. We thought that Europeans preferred swimming/sunbathing without swimsuits ; Andrea truly was conservative. I too loved the feel of OLD cultures and buildings; Europe, Canada and the east coast all are older than here. Hungary seems so neat. Get recipes.

Yeh!! School is out for me. Tomorrow I will start packing for Florida. I'm looking forward to your pictures.

Love, Mom and Dad


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