Monday, April 20, 2009

Pecs - my 2nd favorite city in Hungary!

Loved it! Maybe it was the hills, or the slow pace we took it, or the atmosphere, but in any case, it was great! Don't have the pics posted, but will this week.

I think one of the most unique things there was the mosque church. When the Ottoman Empire ("the Turks") invaded and conquered Pecs, they tore down a church and rebuilt a mosque on the same spot with the same materials. When the Turks "left", the Christians did not tear down the Mosque, rather they just converted it to a church again! The Mosque Church sits at the top of the Szecsenyi Square (one of three squares in the inner town), which is on an uphill slope, capping the square with it's dome.

Jamie and I had a good day on Saturday, exploring museums and churches and sitting in the sun as we went. The only thing we had to pay for was the entrance fee to the Peter and Paul Cathedral, which included a wine tasting at the church cellar!!! Otherwise, we used the Hungary Card I bought and were able to enter all of the museums for free.

We splurged on food though. We had a lovely breakfast outside on a pedestrian only street and people watched. We ate a late lunch: Jamie had cream of mushroom soup and I had French onion soup. However, we think they were really the same soup (mine sans mushrooms) with Jamie's having croutons on it, and mine having the crouton on the side! We braved ordering a dish called a salty pie, which turned out to be a quiche I think, with a pizza like crust.

For dinner we ate outside again on a different square and really enjoyed our meal. I ordered Hortobagy Palacsinta for an appetizer and then took the waiters suggestion for a wine and main course. Jamie ordered the turkey with apples which was advertised on the sign board. The Hotobagy Palacsinta was fabulous. My brother Greg works with a woman from Budapest and I met her when I was home. She recommended I try these, and it was a perfect recommendation. These are the Hungarian Pancakes stuffed with a shredded meat in a flavorful sauce. I was served two huge ones, so thankfully Jamie helped with one, or I could not have eaten my main course. My main course was turkey stuffed with ham and cheese which was quite good as well. The dinner: 1 appetizer (big enough for a meal by itself), 2 main courses, a glass of wine and a glass of beer and conversation with the waiter came to $22.00 with tip! Not bad. (Total cost of the weekend was $81. which included transportation, hostel, sights, and food.)

About an hour after I got home, there was a knock on my door, and it was David with 5 other students. David had stuffed cabbage for me so I invited them all in. Three of the students hadn't been in here before, so they were quite curious about everything. I opened a package of smoked salmon (thanks Greg!) and shared it and they liked it! These are the students who didn't like peanut butter! Go figure! But, they did say it reminded them of ham...guess it was the smoked flavor. One of them was surprised it was pink...they had only seen fish with white meat. I also shared jelly beans and we talked about the rest of the marshmallows, but I didn't share them as I think 12E will use them for their cooking competition on Wednesday.

It is 7:15 in the morning and there is a jack hammer working outside my window already! They are replacing a cement sidewalk with bricks which are used elsewhere on the school grounds. Guess it's my call to get moving this morning.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Off to Pécs

The rest of my first week back was great. It was good to see students and share candz and stickers with them. You wouldn't think high school students would get so excited about stickers, but they really do love them! I played Scrabble with a few of the dorm students on Thursday night and I could really see the progress the two beginning students have made. They translated what was going on for another student who studies German, and they conversed in English as we played the game.

Later on Thursday night I texted with Jamie and Tara and found out that Tara was unable to go to Pecs as the two of them had planned. I was toying with the idea of going, so that made up my mind. So, here I am in Pecs with Jamie. It was a 7 hour train ride after school last night. Boy, the trains in the west are sure nicer than the trains in our eastern side of the country! The train from Budapest to Pecs had tables between all of the seats, and plug-ins also - unheard of on the trains I usually take around Kisvarda.

We were able to catch the last bus from the train station to the central square and then it was just a short walk to our hostel. I am anxious to get out and explore as I think this square is the best I have seen so far in Hungary! I'll let you know!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Back home in Kisvarda

27 hours of travel and I am back in Kisvarda. Boy, what a difference 2 weeks makes in the spring. Everything is green; grass, leaves on trees and flowers everywhere. Doesn't seem to be a lot of daffodils or tulips in public areas, but when I take a walk later, I'm sure to see some in private gardens.

I was greeted at the school by students from the dorm, and was promptly misted with perfume as is the Hungarian Easter tradition. I also received these beautiful eggs and a chocolate egg from a student. I shared bubble gum eggs and peeps with a few of the students.

After a nice hot bath, I was in bed by 9pm. Although I woke up about every two hours, I went right back to sleep until 6 this morning. I have sleep to catch up on though, so expect it to hit me later. Will work hard on getting right back on track with day and night.

Students are smiling ear to ear, are tanned from 2 weeks of sun, and after 5 days off for Easter are not focusing on school! The school leavers have only two weeks to go and then exams. They are excited and ready to leave school, but are not ready for the exams. The benches are out all over the grounds and students are sitting in the sun between the classes.

This mornings first class was my Advanced 9E and they had their first Easter egg hunt. I used the plastic eggs filled with jelly beans, egg shaped Reese's peanut butter pieces, and egg shaped malted milk balls and an Easter sticker. I know they don't have jelly beans and I haven't seen any of the other kinds of candies here either. The cleaning ladies helped me out by hiding the eggs just as soon as class started and then we came out to hunt. Wow! The kids were thrilled. Unfortunately, there are still two eggs hidden somewhere! Maybe the maintenance guys found them before we came out...?

When I went to my second class, 11B/D, they were ready for an egg hunt too! Unfortunately, I only brought enough of the plastic eggs for the 9E classes. So, I shared the jelly belly's and stickers of Alaska animals with them. Next class is the advanced 10E that I traveled to Egar with. I will show some of my pics from the trip home and then share jelly beans with them too. I had a package mailed here with fudge that I will share with them when it gets here.

It is just noon, I have one more class for the day, and then I am free! Amazing! Much slower pace here for me. I will have the dorm students tonight, and we will probably play a game, and I might help David study for his English exam which is on this coming Saturday. He is excused from classes the next three days to prepare.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Is this part of the Hungarian Adventure?

I've been very busy, first in Anchorage visiting my son, meeting his girlfriend, and spending time with my sisters, and then in Juneau running around like crazy trying to accomplish everything on my lists. Today, ferry to Tenakee, help unload the ferry and inventory cabinets that came in on the barge for Shawna's house. Have taken a ton of pics to share back in Hungary, including some of the seaweed, mussuls, and barnacles. Love it here....