I had never knocked on a neighbour’s door to ask them to turn down their music before – but I did last night. Admittedly, it made me feel slightly old before my time but also left me feeling less apologetic –‘ah sure it’s grand’-Irish girl, more bolshie-city apartment dweller. Another first for me in a long week of firsts in my opening week in Budapest.
Packing to leave had been tricky enough. Travelling light is not one of my strong points, anyone who has ever been on holiday with me can confirm. I’m usually the one with the suitcases that look more than a wee bit morbidly obese. In my defence, when you are moving to a new country (one with actual seasons!) and a new job where you don’t know how casual the terms ‘casual office wear’ is, it’s hard to pack. Although in fairness I did fit my life into a respectable amount of suitcases, a first for me.
All three Cassidys (minus the dog) were heading over to Budapest – it was very nice to able to enjoy something of a mini holiday with my parents before the real work began. Landing at Ferenc Liszt International Airport was a first as well. I’d never been in Hungary before, never mind Budapest. Heck, I’d really never been east of Germany/Italy in Europe. For a European who professes a love of travel, I was a bit embarrassed about that and it is something I want to rectify during my year here. If anyone reading this has any travel tips in Central/Eastern Europe, must see sights or fave eating/drinking spots, do let me know.
When I moved into my apartment, I also encountered the slightly unusual clothes washing arrangement that is having the washing machine in the bathroom. Despite all the childhood lectures of dangers of electrical equipment in the vicinity of water, this seems quite common place here. The whole thing reminded me of my granny and her washing machine that used to empty into the sink. My Hungarian one drains into the bath, which necessitated several nervy dashes to peer into said bath during my first clothes wash to make sure I wasn’t flooding the place!
On Friday, I skipped out of work to go along to a Strauss recital being performed as part of the Budapest Spring Festival. Despite being a complete classical music philistine, I was blown away by the opulent venue (Lizst Academy’s Grand Hall) and the gorgeous music provided by the Pannon Philharmonic and it cost me around €7 to be there. First but certainly not the last trip I’ll be making to the Grand Hall.
Saturday morning saw my first trip to my local market. The recently renovated Hunyadi ter market is a lovely place to wander around, even if you have no intention of buying anything. The streets surrounding it were full of people making a similar journey to myself, all carrying empty shopping bags, baskets and trolleys that would soon be full of tasty produce. The market itself includes a cavernous enclosed market hall but it was the rows of stalls in the street opposite the market that I investigated on Saturday. There is the expected huge range of fruit and veg but there are also stands heaving with fresh flowers, honey, dried meats, homemade biscuits, cheeses and even a van that fills up your empty plastic bottles with milk (not sure Cassidy is brave enough to try the probably unpasteurised stuff!) I only intended to have a wee snoop but I soon landed back home with ridiculously sweet red apples, strawberries that reminded me of the ones that I picked when we lived in Wicklow and a stack of vegetables that look like they are supposed to and taste like they are supposed to – no supermarket-style veggie clones here!
And ask I write this I’m preparing to make my first trip home. Yes, I’m only away a few days and already I’m coming home! I do have a very good excuse though – another first. I’m going to be presenting the man of the match award at the Ulster v Connacht game so I’ll be making my 3.5 sec TV debut. Not a bad week or so of firsts.