Overview of the past few days... Last Friday one of the Hungarians on the CELTA course had a party at her house in one of the outer districts. We had a traditional Hungarian "cook-out" with a huge pot of sausage, potatoes, etc. cooked over a fire - yummy! There was a huge storm which moved the party inside... it was pretty but made me miss all my Glimmerglass friends after our amazing thunderstorms earlier in the summer.
Classes are still intensive. I had a huge shock when I got back my second assignment on Thursday -- I don't have to resubmit it! Good thing because I still have to resubmit assignment one, do assignment four, plan two lessons, and pray I don't have to resubmit assignment three. It's going to be a busy week! Teaching is going better though - I actually got a couple of smiley faces on my last lesson plan. It wasn't a perfect lesson, but I got the students more interested, had to act like my life revolved around turo rudi, and had fun teaching.
I have officially lost track of how many apartments I've seen. It's somewhere around 15. There are few things I am looking forward to more than knowing where I'll be living after next week! One that I saw on Thursday has a lot of potential - just waiting to get the final cost numbers and such. Hopefully, more to come on that. In the meantime, I'm seeing another tomorrow, one on Monday... and so on. Today is the first day in a while that I'm not seeing any. It's nice to have a break. One of the hardest things has been seeing ones that I know from the first minute won't work but not wanting to walk in and walk out. Yesterday, I saw two nearly identical ones in a building right next to the opera. Because of the location, I might have been willing to make some compromises but they didn't have proper stoves with ovens and were about the size of a Canevin-Lowe dorm room, plus stairs and a bathroom. Even if I didn't care about not having a separate bedroom (which I do), there wouldn't be the physical space for guests that I already know I'm having this year... there simply wasn't even the floor space.
Since yesterday was the holiday (August 20, St. Stephen's Feast Day) I spent a good bit of the day in Pest. The other times I've been in Hungary, I've always gotten here late August so I'd never been in the country and was interested in seeing the celebrations. In the morning, after seeing the tiny apartments by the opera, I got some ice cream (no peach stuff this time!) and walked around between the opera and Liszt Ferenc Square. I stumbled upon a group of young folk dancers and watched them for a bit. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera at that point :( After going home to get my camera, I wandered over to the basilica where they were setting up for the big Mass. It was about two hours before Mass would start so I got a spot right on the barricade between the seated area and general standing. The two hours went pretty quickly because there was setting up to watch and people in various traditional outfits milling around. My favorite outfits were on a group of teen girls who were wearing white eyelet dresses with blue trim. They were representing one of the towns in Hungary and had a litter with a statue of Mary which they were carrying. Starting about an hour before Mass there were also a variety of people talking about the day ... I couldn't understand much, but some of it was about this being the 20th anniversary of St. Stephen's Day in independent Hungary. Finally, around 4:30, the processions started. The first part was the presenting of the new bread. I'm not sure why, but St. Stephen's Day is when the first bread is made from the year's harvest. Because of this, there was a procession with people from all over Hungary, in their area's traditional dress, bringing loaves of bread - some of them huge - to the basilica. Also part of the procession was a model of St. Stephen's crown made out of wheat.Following the bread were the children who had been invited from the areas most affected by the flooding earlier in the summer. Finally, just before Mass was to start, the most important part of the procession occurred which was bringing out the Szent Jobb, or incorruptible Holy Right(hand) of St. Stephen. Because I was so close to the front, I wasn't more than 100 meters away from the procession. Think being in DC, on the 4th of July, 20 years after the end of the Civil War, watching Betsy Ross' flag processed in, and you might come close. Only, even now, Betsy Ross' flag is just over 200 years old and the Szent Jobb is more than 1000... ohh and the fact that flags don't typically decompose like humans do. Yes, it's odd to see a hand just hanging out, not decomposed, after a millennium. However, who's to say God can't do odd things!!
As soon as the procession was over, the Mass started but I had to leave to meet people for dinner. It's a good thing I'll never see people in the crowd again (or even if so, won't remember them/they won't remember me) because I felt like quite a - insert veterinary term for my "cousin" on my dad's side - pushing through people to get out of the square. At least, God knows I would love to have stayed. It's too bad I didn't take the time to check the schedule before planning dinner.
After meeting up with some of my classmates, I lead an expedition up into the Buda hills to one of my favorite restaurants - Fenyogyongye. It's a traditional Hungarian place and is too far out of the city center to be touristy. Amazing food, nice location, English speaking staff.. good combination. The most exciting part was, after asking for a table, in Hungarian, and telling the server we would like English menus, he brought English menus for everyone and a Hungarian one for me. Granted, I glanced at the menu then shared an English one with someone else, but it was really nice to know he thought I was Hungarian.
We took the bus (65.. ahh the memories) back down the hill and then walked along the Duna waiting for the fireworks. They were spectacular! My camera has a setting specifically for fireworks so I got some cool pictures.
Castle in the background
Parliament in the background