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Happy New Year

On the 31 of December two guys from Italy arrived at my host Szuszi?s house. They are also Hospitalityclub members and wanted to spend News Years Eve in Budapest. Francesco, Giancarlo, Szuszi and me spent the afternoon on Gellert mountain enjoying the view of cloudy Budapest. Afterwards we took the tram number 2 to go to the parliament. If you should ever come to Budapest I strongly advice you to do the same because the tram railways are right next to the Danube on the Pest side and you have a magnificent view of Buda. When we arrived at the Parliament we witnessed the sound check of the Band Nox which seems to be quite famous in Hungary. Szuszi told us that there were going to be many concerts all over town that night and that they were all for free. Giancarlo, Francesco and me decided to go later that evening.
We had a very nice dinner at home: Italian pasta with tomatoe sauce, onions, tuna and olives. At about ten we left. This time we took different tram which goes all the way through the Pest city center and we saw all the other Concerts in town. When we arrived at the parliament Nox was already playing. I would describe their music as a mixture of folk, gothic and pop music. Their costumes are all in black, a mixture of Hungarian traditional and fantasy clothing. They even had dancers on stage who performed with ?swords?.
When Midnight came the concert was interupted for fireworks. The crowd begann to whistle and to make a lot of noise on all kind of ?instruments?. It was a very touching moment and some people even started to cry. Francesco opened a bottle of champaign and since we had a lot of plastic cups we offered some champaign to the people standing next to us. This way we got to know a very nice elderly couple from Malta and talked to them for some time. What a coincidence. I had been to Malta once after graduating from high school and last year I had given a presentation about Malta during one of my university seminars. I really like this little Island state and we spoke in English and Italian since most Maltese know Italian from tv.
A little later we went for a walk to see the other concerts. The city center was incredibly crowded and the atmosphere was great. It had a very good time and maybe I will come back next year....
3.1.06 16:46


Dinner in Budapest

Last friday I enjoyed a very special dinner party. Francesco and Giancarlo had contacted Balacz the guy at whose house I had stayed in October. In the end they decided to stay at Zsuzsi?s house but had stayed in contact with him. On Friday morning we decided that we would like to visit him and sent him an sms that we would come that evening to prepare some pasta for him and his wife. At 8:30pm we were ringing the door bell. Balacz responded over the interphone and when he realized that it was us he sayed: ?Oh, great, I just have to put on some.... shoes!? After a couple of minutes he arrived in his pyjamas at the front gate. He had not received the message and did not know that we were coming!

It turned out to be a wonderful evening. I really admire the way Italians value food. Giancarlo patiently prepared the "soffritto" for the tomatoe sauce stirfrying onions for at least 15 minutes before adding the tomatoes. We drank wine, I broke a glass and talked about Balacz?s and his wife?s trip to Vietnam, their possible move to Milano, and about Itlian cuisine. Later that night two friends of Balacz came. One was a Hungarian who had lived in the US for many years and the other one was his American brother in law who had decided to live in Hungary with his wife. We spent the evening, eating, laughing, joking and talking and I really felt that it is these moments that make your life special...... A bunch of strangers sitting together having fun.
9.1.06 13:07


Surviving Budapest

I stayed in Budapest unti 14 January, three weeks in total. I had never intended to stay that long when I first came which is why I only had 170? in my pocket. I thought that that must be more than enough for a week or so considering that I would not have to pay for a room. After a couple of days the first incident happened....outch... and I had to pay 10? to go to the hospital and have a doctor look at my wound. Two days later my shoes were all wet and I put them on the heater to dry. The next morning the soles had melted and I had to spend 32? for a new pair of shoes. The next days were ok. I spent most of my money on bus tickets and did not even have to pay for food since Francesco and Giancarlo, the other two hospitalityclub members that were staying at our host Zsuzsi?s house, were cooking every day. After Zsuzsi had left I moved into Akos?s living room for three days and during that time a piece of my braces broke off and I had to go to the dentist. 30? just to glue it back into place and 10? more for a little gengiva treatment. I had run out of money and it was already clear that I would stay for one more week. Luckily I was able to withdraw 25? from my bank account, which was a miracle itself. I also remembered that I still had 30? in Lei with me. Since you cannot change Romanian money into any other currency outside of Romania I asked my friend Willu if she would give me Euros for it since she was intending to go back to Cluj soon. Luckily she agreed and that way I was able to pay for the dentist. I spent the last four days at my third host Tom?s place. I had to calculate very carefully how much money to spend on metro tickets and food from the market but in the end I still had 200 Forint (almost 1 ?) in my pocket when I flew to Germany....
25.1.06 13:35





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