Strange Encounters

Winter in Budapest can be… well, blah. When we first moved here in March, I went to a NAWA (North American Women’s Association) “Coffee and Chat”, a weekly event for members to catch up and newcomers to Budapest to make friends, and the women were all gasping and marveling at the glorious sunshine we were having that day. To be honest, I thought they were overreacting a bit. What a naive Texas gal. It’s been quite an adjustment from “temperatures ranging between 40 and 80 degrees, usually with moderate sunshine” in Houston/College Station/Dallas winters to “temperatures steadily hovering at 30 degrees, often with rain or snow” in Budapest winters. I, too, now gasp and marvel at brief glimpses of sunshine.

The biggest factor is the dogs – since we have no backyard (or, as you say here, no “garden”), I have to walk them no matter the weather conditions. So each day, I trudge through rain/snow/mud/fog/general nastiness with the dogs 3-4 times a day. Dallas gets +50 points in its column for the ability to just open the door and let the dogs fend for themselves.

Let’s not even mention the general wintry nastiness that comes into the house on coats, boots, and doggie paws.

This, plus busy season for the better half, means that January and February are my least favorite months thus far in Budapest. Let’s be honest, though, it’s still pretty awesome in comparison to my January and February back in Dallas. Since I’m not working crazy hours (that is… any hours!) and Richie’s commute has been reduced to a mere 20 minutes by public transport, we see a *lot* more of each other than we did in past busy seasons. Most nights (except for one frantic week just before reporting), Richie’s home in time for dinner.

Regardless, all this wintry busy season nonsense means that we haven’t yet taken a trip in 2013 – our first is scheduled for this upcoming weekend – so instead of exciting stories about our lives, I’ll just give you the latest in strange encounters in the city.

Towards the end of January, my former coworker Jenn and her roommate Dejah arrived for a weekend visit. [Editor’s note – they are not included in the strange encounters – they are more like fun and lovely and sweet encounters.]  These ladies are the absolute best kind of visitors, and by that I mean that they’re up for pretty much anything. This includes being completely gracious about me dragging them to a Spanish tapas restaurant even though THEY LIVE IN SPAIN. Yep, I wasn’t really thinking that one through.

While at said restaurant (Pata Negra – one of our absolute favorites in Budapest), we had two bizarre experiences. First, one woman belonging to a group of completely obnoxious tourists at the table next to us had, shall we say, overindulged in the delicious sangria. In her trip to the restroom, she managed to fall drunkenly into every. single. table. between hers and the restroom.  I should note that she was seated by the entrance, so literally every table in the restaurant was graced with her presence. She did provide continuing entertainment as we debated how long it would take her to emerge from the back and whether or not her friends had actually left her there (verdict: approximately 40 minutes, and they had stepped outside but not left entirely).

The second involved another tourist (no native Hungarians were involved in these transgressions) coming up to Jenn and saying, in a very slurred voice,”10 Euro for meatball!”  Jenn looked confused, and said, “You want to give me 10 Euros for one of my meatballs?”  Drunk guy’s friend came up to retrieve him; he left, but not before sticking his hands in her plate and withdrawing a meatball. And without leaving 10 Euros, no less 🙂 We literally stared at the plate in shock for probably 5 straight minutes.

The next day, as we were touring the city, one of the guys operating the sightseeing buses, undeterred by my bland statement that “we’re not interested, I live here,” had the following conversation with me:

Sightseeing Bus Guy (SBG): “Where are you from originally?”

Me: “Texas.”

SBG: “Wow, your English is really good.”

Me: “…” [Editor’s note – this is the 6th or 7th time someone has told me that my English is excellent after learning I am from the US. What kind of reputation do we have?!]

SBG: “What do you do here? Are you a student?”

Me: “No. My husband works here.”

SBG: “Wow, so you don’t do anything? You need to get a job. You’re so lazy. Here, take this brochure for our bus in case you change your mind.”

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that if I need a sightseeing bus, I will NOT be using his.

Luckily, the rest of Jenn and Dejah’s trip was relatively normal 🙂

And for the most recent encounter – this past weekend, we checked out Doboz, a ruin pub fairly close to our flat. Ruin pubs are really popular in Budapest; they’re basically buildings that should have been condemned at some point and were brought up to code just enough to allow a bar inside. Doboz is nicer than most, and we really enjoyed it, but on the way in, we saw the strangest sight. One grown man (close to my age, probably) was wearing blue flannel pajamas and holding a teddy bear. A second man was wearing a teddy bear costume and holding a baby doll in blue flannel pajamas. They tried to get in but were prevented from entering by the bouncers, so for at least two hours, they stood outside the bar shushing people as they exited. Despite looking completely ridiculous, they still had an effect on the club-goers because everyone immediately quieted once they said, “Shhhh!”

Oh, Budapest. I love it here.

This weekend, we’re heading to Austria for my first ski trip in 17 years. Wish me luck… I will absolutely need it.

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