Little Things I’ve Noticed and Budapest!

Hello All!

A few things I have noticed since I got here include the fact that people take their dogs everywhere, and in the US I have so many convenient things that I do not have here.  People really do take their dogs everywhere.  They go on the trams, in the stores, to the random buildings.  The dogs almost all have on little jackets and a muzzle.  The muzzle is an encouraged social norm.  No rules exist to require it, but many people do this with their larger dogs.  Also, I see grown men with little bitty dogs.  It was miserably cold the other day and I saw a grown mad with a tiny dog shoved into his coat.  And as he waited at a crosswalk he petted it, and was talking to it.  Men in the US would rarely do this and still feel manly.  I have serious respect for that man.  Convenient things I really miss (as sad as this is) are meals that are frozen and in bags.  This type of thing does not exist here.  The only already prepared meal you can really buy frozen is pizza.

This last weekend I went to Budapest and it was fantastic.  The trip was miserably cold and there was a bitter wind the whole time, but it did not deter any of us from having a great time.  Budapest is made up of two sides of the city “Buda” and “Pest”.  Buda is the side to the west and is the older part and is situated on a large hill.  Pest is the never area and is mainly on flat land.  The two are separated by the Danube River.  The first morning we went to The Citadel, Gellert Hill, Statue of Liberty, and Elizabeth bridge.  The Citadel, Gellert Hill and Statue of Liberty were pretty much all the same destination.  From this huge hill you could see all of budapest.  It was a beautiful view.  The hill is so named because Gellert was a bishop who was killed by pagans during a rebellion by pagans in 1046.  How did they kill him you might ask? Well, they tied his hands, put him in a barrel, and rolled him down this giant hill.

In the afternoon we visited the main market in Pest and visited an Easter Market.  The easter market was fantastic with all kinds of hand made goods, sweets, and all around great items.  Our hostel was fantastic and a group of us went to the Hard Rock Cafe Budapest for dinner.  Not a traditional Hungarian dinner, but it was fantastic.  My first taste of American food since arriving happened that night for dinner.

The next day we saw parliament, the castle district, Fishermen’s Bastion, and then had free time to eat lunch.  The castle district was great with the many streets with vendors, fantastic cafe locations, and great picture opportunities.  Later that night we went to St. Stephen’s Basilica.  It was fantastic and so beautiful.  Later that night another girl and I went to the Easter market again because it was such a great atmosphere.  We couldn’t leave without buying a Hungarian chimney cake.  It was fantastic and a great way to end the night.

The last day was spent visiting Hero Square and Szechenyi Thermal Bath.  The thermal bath was a fantastic way to end the trip because it had been miserably cold.  These thermal baths are filled by hot springs located under the city.  It was nice and warm and oh so relaxing.

Budapest is the city I have enjoyed the most so far on my stay in Europe.  I hope to top how I felt about this one with next weekends trip to Krakow!

Signing off- Michelle

After 4 Weeks

Hello all,

I’ve been here for about 4 weeks now and I’m having a fantastic time.  I have less than 90 days left here, so I need to start traveling more than I have so far.  Yesterday I actually went to Prague or Praha as they call it here.  I went to the first ever roller derby game in the Czech Republic which was awesome!  I saw quite a bit of the old city, but didn’t like how most of the square was just souvenir shops.  The buildings were gorgeous and that was a nice change.  The atmosphere was amazing and I loved the experience.

I’ve learned some key Czech Phrases so I am able to communicate a little bit in Czech, but not much.  I am able to take public transport and not feel like I’m going to get lost, and I also feel confident in my ability to actually buy things at the grocery store.  So many things are impossible to read that I just guess sometimes.  Luckily most of the groceries here have fairly good pictures to tell you what is in the package.

My classes are awesome and rather interesting.  My Modern Czech Theatre class is probably my favorite because I feel like I’m learning so much.  I have lots of work to do in my History of Central Europe class, mainly because I feel like I know absolutely nothing about the history of this region.  I think that is one flaw in what I learned in high school.  My whole world history class was spent talking about China and really very little of anything else.  The area has a very interesting history.

Overall everything is fantastic here!

Michelle Signing off!