Back in Big Boody, Part II

Big Boody, Part Two

For the past week or so, I have been hanging around Budapest, having a grand old time. Since I have been having such a grand old time, I don’t have much time to write a deep, reflective update about what I think about what I’ve been doing. I only have the time right now to make a record of some highlights.

As mentioned in the previous update, on Friday I hung out with some students. In the afternoon, we all went to Sportliget to play some ultimate frisbee. I was awesome. Among the people that I play with every week when I am at Regent, I am not spectacular. I’m average, as ultimate frisbee players go, and a little bit taller than most. But compared to Hungarian students who never play, I am a superstar. So, I enjoyed being a superstar, but I think that everyone else enjoyed playing as well. Which is good, because it’s only fun being a superstar when other people enjoy playing with you.

Friday night, Neal and Danielle and hung out with Chris and Marton, two students who graduated two years ago. We went to a club called Zöldpardon, which is outdoors and on the banks of the Danube, on the Buda side of the Petöfi bridge (I give you directions in case you are ever in Budapest and would like to go there). There was a Hungarian band playing, and they were quite good, though I’d never heard of them before (and even now cannot remember their name). But we sat and talked for hours, and it was great to have a couple of beers with the guys and see how they are doing. I never taught them, but I got to know them a little at the end of my year here.

Saturday, Neal and Danielle had an engagement party for their Budapest friends in a park near Danielle’s flat. Great weather. Fun times. Threw the football. One of Danielle’s Hungarian colleagues brought a Diet Coke bottle filled with moonshine that could have stripped paint off a wall. Saturday night, Neal and Sam (who teaches at Trefort, our old school, until the end of this year) and I went to our friend Andi and her husband Balazs’s new flat. They are wonderful people. Andi teaches English at Trefort. Balazs is (I think) a computer programmer.

Sunday we went to church, and then helped Neal and Danielle make wedding invitations. Sunday night, I can’t remember what happened, but I’m pretty sure it involved sitting around Sam’s flat and watching episodes of Lost on DVD.

Monday, I went to the dentist for a cleaning, because it’s cheap here. About 40 dollars. Not too shabby. Then, a bunch of the boys went to Rudas Baths, a.k.a. the Manly Baths. They are for men only (but don’t fret, ladies. They are open for women on Tuesday morning and Thursday night), and you bathe clad only in a little white apron. There are pools of water at various temperatures, gathered from the hot springs under Budapest. Since I was here two years ago, they renovated them, and they are quite nice now. Not nearly as, um, ghetto as before. I did not get a massage, because the only time I got a massage before, it was not relaxing at all.

Monday night, I went down to Csepel, because Skye and Janelle had a barbecue. Skye and Janelle are an ESI institution. They have been here for 8 years, and they are returning to America after this year. They had a barbecue to celebrate, and I was there. After the barbecue, Matt Ackerman, who also teaches at their school (and who will be there next year as well), convinced me that I had to see a movie called Victory. And, after seeing it, I have to admit that I did have to see it. It stars Michael Caine, Pele, and Sylvester Stallone in his first post-Rocky role. Yes, I said Pele. The premise is, they are all prisoners of war in a Nazi camp during World War II, and they challenge the German national team to a soccer game. I am not making this up. You must see it. And it was filmed in Budapest.

Tuesday, a bunch of us went to Tortuga, a restaurant whose gimmick is that there are turtles swimming in water underneath the tables. There are also weapons on the walls, and the waiters are dressed like pirates. I don’t mean they have eyepatches and stuffed parrots on their shoulders. They’re tasteful pirates. Anyway, the turtles were pretty entertaining. One of them had gotten out of the water and was under Matt’s chair (we had one of the tables that did not have water under it). The turtle apparently wanted to get back into the water, but the steps back up to it were too high to climb. Matt, helpful soul that he is, decided to help the turtle by picking it up and putting it back into the water. It bit him, and he dropped it upside down. Then he pushed it into the water.

The food was great. I ate turkey with plums and a sort of pear-ginger sauce. It was excellent. Sam had spicy chocolate soup with mushrooms in it. Matt had a parfait that didn’t look like a parfait. But still, who doesn’t like parfaits?

Later, after we had gotten our food, the restaurant began to blare loud techno music at us, and the lights went down. A man came in, dressed in a hooded black robe and a gold mask, and carrying a cake with a lit firework on it. We watched him walk over to a table next to ours (some of us with our hands over our ears, the music was so loud) and place the cake on the table. Then he struck a pose, clapped in time with the music for a few moments, and left. The lights went back up. That had to be the most entertaining restaurant birthday celebration I’ve ever witnessed. Earlier in the evening Sam had said that he wanted to go there again in June for his birthday. He took it back.