When I had the idea to create a blog, I wasn't exactly sure on my approach on delivering the content. Would it strictly be a video blog? What about photographs? Would it be every day? How important is it to get the content out before it becomes less relevant?
For some reason (probably my sense of optimism, even when it contradicts years of behavioral evidence), I always purchase one of those overpriced Moleskin journals from Target for each of my excursions. There is one for the Great Western Expedition (7th Grade), at least 2 years of Drum Corps, trips to Europe and Brasil... all of which are sitting in the small bookshelf on my bed side. I think I have written just 20 pages....combined. I'd like to justify that 90% of the pages are empty because "I'll remember that" or "There just wasn't enough time". Regardless, I bought another (Orange) Moleskin journal for this trip too. And while my efforts in the beginning were promising, I soon fell behind. So, this blog has turned into my "journal"... both as an attempt to ignite my desire to write consistently for my personal record and a way to share my experiences with everyone at home.
The Moleskin journal has been of use... to do lists, things to see, notes from the film set.. it's more of a notebook than a journal; which, in a way, captures the trip in a completely different light than my own descriptions, narratives, and overly exciting cliffhangers.
So, as I've decided, the blog will be a combination of a huge variety of storytelling tools. So rather than tell you about what happened after I crossed the Austrian/Hungarian border, why don't I just show you?
(remember, click the little gear and make sure you select HD)
The young woman in the video, Zsuzsa, is Feri's wife. She is a wonderful mother and a fantastic person all around. Aside from her amazing cooking, she is incredibly smart and organized... she helped me through every step of the journey and, as you will see, helped me adjust to life in Budapest.
The flat (apartment) sits on a major intersection, the corner of Karinthy Frigyes (car-inth-ee Frig-esh) and Budafoki (buda-fo-key), on the southern side of Buda. Remember, before the Danube river was conquered with a permanent bridge structure (the Chain Bridge), the cities of Buda and Pest were two separate places. Although they are one city now, the locals still refer to the"Buda" and "Pest" sides of the river. It is a wonderful neighborhood.. public transport is easily accessible, there are plenty of restaurants and stores, and it is near the University, which equates to a lot of young people.
After Zsuzsa showed me around the flat, we went on an adventure around the neighborhood. She started explaining the basics of getting around the city... where road signs were printed (on the corners of buildings), some major landmarks in the area, and establishing a sense of direction. We walked up to Móricz Zsigmond körtér, the main square in the area. This is one of the largest public transport hubs in the city... they have a subway and at least 7 different tram lines all converge here and go all over the city. It's a very busy place, but as I found out, not the touristy busy. While a McDonalds and KFC are the only signs of Western Culture, they really get drowned out by the delicious smell of Gyros cooking in the window and the sounds of the Hungarian language amidst the screeching wheels of trams. The sun had set and a full moon dominated the sky; right over my apartment.
After a brief stop in McDonald's for their daughter, we walked along Bartók Béla út for a special surprise that Zsuzsa had in store. On break from filming, with his long hair blowing in the wind, Feri came walking down the street.
"Heeey Maaan!" he yelled in his thick, Hungarian accented English.
It was surreal to say the least. It's one thing to greet a foreigner who comes to your home country. But to swap places? I'm halfway across the world, now in HIS country? It was a very special moment.
Feri took no time in leading me all around the neighborhood. We went back up to Móricz Zsigmond körtér and grabbed a slice of pizza. I got a slice of Hawaiian - my favorite. Except, when I took a bite, something was different. Apparently the pineapple had been switched to corn. Oh well. Still delicious. We walked up Villányi út to his old school, which was now a Catholic school. We walked down all sorts of alleyways and side streets.
"Make sure you get a beer here"
"Oh my goodness, you have a Lidl! (Their version of Aldi) You must shop here. It is so much cheaper and the food is very good"
"This is a great place"
"Always go for the Turkish food. It is wonderful here"
"Follow me, I have one more spot for you to see"
"If you go that way, that is the hill"
"Oh yes, this is a good place too"
"Now, do you know where you are?"
His enthusiasm was contagious. So many little pubs in basements of buildings. Coffee houses with the most interesting decor I've ever seen. Ice cream coolers on the sides of buildings. Fountains and small courtyards. It was a fantastic and colorful part of town. Nothing was in English. I was excited.
"Do you know where you are?"
[Looks up at the side of the building]
"Well, if this is Lágymányosi, I should follow this down until I hit Budafoki, then turn right, right?" I asked.
We walked down Budafoki until we met back up with Zsuzsa and their daughter at the car. We said our goodbyes - Feri had to be at the set next day, so they needed to get home. I thanked them again and again. I couldn't tell who was more excited - me or them!
It took me a little while to unpack and settle in. I moved some furniture and set up the computer, to which I found that my computer cord was missing. Had I left it on the train? Had it fallen out somewhere? Oh well - I'll figure it out tomorrow. I continued to explore the apartment. Digging in drawers. Opening cabinets in the kitchen looking for utensils. Finding the correct light switches was almost like a game. I found one of those 1500 mL bottles and put some water in the fridge to cool it down for later.
[Living room light flickers]
A nice cool breeze rolled in from the 5th floor balcony. i had collapsed in one of the red living room chairs.
[Living room light flickers]
I looked up. The hanging lamp kept acting like the blub was loose. I got up to screw it back in. But just was I walked over to the lamp...
[Apartment goes black]
Well, great. The power just went out.
Luckily, Zsuzsa had provided me with a Hungarian cell phone so I could call her if I needed her. But, I wasn't going to call her at the first sight of danger. I havn't even been alone for an hour! I found the master switch for the power. Nothing works. Using my iPhone flashlight, I start looking for a fusebox. Nothing. I go back to the master switch. Nope.
Alright. Maybe I should call her.
"I'm sorry, but it's too late tonight. The master switch should turn it on... we might have to call an electrician. I can be there in the morning though and we can try to fix the power and find you a computer cord, is that okay?"
Of course it was okay. I really didn't mind. After what I had been through the last 36 hours, a little power problem with the apartment wasn't a big deal. Besides, I could use a restful full night's sleep anyway.