Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Aerobic Dance Competition

So the whole world knows that gymnastics is a thing.  What you may not know, though, is that aerobic dance is also a thing.  It is, essentially, the child of gymnastics and break dancing, floor routines with a bit more dancing and fewer flips.  On Sunday I traveled all the way out to Budaors to watch the International Aerobic Open, held here in Hungary, because my old teaching partner, Edit, was competing in it with her group.  And it was a little bit crazy, and a lot bit awesome.  The costumes were in your face, the techno beats were pounding, and everyone was walking around with an enormous grin.  Enjoy.

You can compete individually, in trios, or in groups.
This being an aerobics competition, some people also brought steps to better show off their skills.
Edit's group breaks it down.
Some groups started with some pretty snazzy movements.
There were even men and male groups.  Most of the men were from Eastern Europe.  This is the only Western European men's group, naturally from France.
And this being Hungary, a folk dance group showed up as well for the closing ceremonies.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

So sweet

Today I had the rattie boys out on the bed with me while I watched The Walking Dead.  They were running around and doing their thing, occasionally coming over to sniff my face.  Suddenly, I heard a plaintive little squeak.  I looked down, and tucked into the nook of my arm was Dexter.  He was laying on his back and looking up at me, and squeaked again when I looked at him.  So I rubbed his belly, and he bruxed away.

Rats are just the greatest pets!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


The first weekend in October, I headed to Vienna.  Now, Vienna is only three hours away by train, and I had never been before.  Which is a bit embarrassing, but I always sort of figured I would make it there some weekend, and then I never did.  Plus, everyone always says Vienna is "like Budapest, but cleaner," so my desire to go wasn't the strongest.  Budapest's dirt never really bothers me.  I was starting to feel that I should definitely visit, thought, and through happy coincidence my new friend, Rachel, has a friend who lives there and had invited her to come visit.  

Of course, I woke up on Friday morning and got ready for work, and then was sick at the bus stop.  A day of sleeping somewhat prepared me for the trip, but I was still feeling pretty nasty when I got on the train.  I slept for the whole train ride, which I think made Rachel feel somewhat lonely.  Happily, our host was very understanding, and we grabbed a quick dinner (yummy, yummy Turkish food) and headed to bed.
Saturday morning our host made us breakfast.  I went out to get bread for us, and wound up taking quite a bit of time due to the lovely little neighborhood market that was going on.
After breakfast we headed out to do some sightseeing.  When we got off the tram downtown, almost exactly as my feet touched the ground, this incredibly loud siren started to go off.  It went off for at least two minutes, and actually hurt our ears.  I guess it was a test of the air raid alarm system, which everyone else knew about, and thus did not react to.  It was surreal, that everyone else was walking by calmly while we were freaking out.  If Rachel hadn't been there also freaking out, I think I would have easily thought I was going crazy!
Then the siren stopped, and we realized we were looking at the gorgeous Rathaus, or city hall.  Mom will be pleased to know that I was able to last-minute download a Vienna city guide, complete with maps and building descriptions and histories, to my Kindle for only 99 cents.  Best birthday present ever!
Our next stop was the Votive Church.
I jay-ran across the street to get a photo of this magnificent lion statue.
Another view of the Rathaus, with a circus in front of it.  Awesome building, really.
a griffin statue
museum quarter
Guten Morgen.  I will be speaking German in all of my photos because I discovered that I SORT OF CAN.   Really horribly.  But I guess all the passive German I've had throughout my life has worked its way into my head, because I could read menus, buy things, and even get directions in German.  I was so pleased.
the Royal Butterfly House and the Volkspark
a pretty painted church
Mozart the bear
the tower of Stephensdom
Stephensdom- St. Stephen's Cathedral- again... notice the awful pollution staining the building.  So sad.
the tiled roof of Stephensdom
horse-drawn carriage around the back of St. Peter's Church
beer clinic!!!
horses again
Guten Tag.
I love the street light for bikes!
Karlsplatz: a fountain and an oddly Communist statue, with Cyrillic on it
weird music-playing sculpture in Karlsplatz
Hallo, liebchen.
The amazingly detailed signage continues: the bicyclist leans to the side while waiting for the light.  Love.
Karlsdom is epic.
Guten Abend.
For dinner, I finally pulled myself together and ate an enormous plate of food.  Wiener Schnitzel, of course!  Then we headed back to our host's, where I watched an entire team's worth of Austrian baseball (yes, baseball) players get wasted and have an impromptu, and only a little homoerotic, dance party.  It was pretty awesome.  I then accompanied the boys to a nearby bar/club, where they were promptly kicked out for dancing like obnoxious idiots and flapping their sweaty, unbuttoned shirts at the bouncer.  I then walked our host's roommate home.  At one point, we passed a bunch of Turkish guys, one of whom was lying on the ground.  The roommate went up to them and "spoke Turkish" by going "Bibadebibade."  Luckily no one was stabbed, and we made it home safe and sound.  Usually it's annoying, but sometimes it's really really funny to be the sober one.
The next morning, after breakfast, we headed to the Schonbrunn Palace.  Schon means "lovely," and it really was, and also a bit creepy and imperialistic, if full of beautiful flowers and sunshiney.  I love how these things so often mix, and how you can understand a place more if you know a bit of history, and history more after you see a place.  Austria-Hungarian Empire, what?  I also really enjoy how many attempts I've seen now at besting Versailles.
lovely fountain
fountain peeking from the trees
the castle and a view of Vienna
the arch atop the hill
The ducks were not so keen on my photographing them.
ducks and a panorama
Auf Wiedersehen!
After the castle we had some ice cream, grabbed our stuff, and caught the train back.  All in all it was a lovely little weekend away, and definitely came at the right time.  I still can't believe in my two years here before, I never made it to Vienna, but now I am very glad that I did.  It was beautiful, clean, and organized.  The people were friendly, the food was delicious, and I had a great time with that crazy baseball team.  I could communicate reasonably effectively and had no trouble navigating the city.  I would recommend Vienna to anyone... after they've visited Budapest.  Because while the two cities are quite similar, and Vienna is definitely more tourist friendly, Budapest still wins in my heart.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Meet the boys

I have two new additions to the family.  Their names are Dexter and Smokey, and they are 8-week-old baby rats.  They're still a bit skittish in their new home, but we're getting to know each other.  We only met yesterday, so it's to be expected.  Dexter is the mainly white one with the gray hood, and Smokey is the totally gray one, though he has a white belly.  Dexter is definitely the more shy of the two, and Smokey sort of bosses him around even though he is smaller.

Anna also got a kitten yesterday, so now there is definitely an interesting animal dynamic brewing in the flat.  The kitten is not yet named, and was a rescue.  Cats and rats can be good friends if they grow up together, so we shall see what happens.  For now, though, the boys are safely in their cage or out in my room, away from kitty.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I went to a sports shop today to try to get an LED light for my bike.  A shop assistant popped right up and asked if I need help.  Normally I just say that I'm only looking and then I get left alone.  Today, though, I was feeling bold.

"Yes, I need a bike light, an LED one (said el ay day, magyar style)."
"What?  El ay day?"
AHHH!  My brain went.  How could that not work?  "Um, yes.  It's a type of light.  El ay day."
He stared at me.
I stammered, "El ay day.  A bike light.  A type of bike light.  Maybe we could just go and look at them?"
He stared some more.  I stared back.  The gears visibly ground in both our heads.

After what seemed like three weeks, he jumped slightly and near shouted, "AH!  LED-es!  (led like Ted, plus esh)."
I was thrilled.  "Igen!!  LEDes!!"

And then we spontaneously high fived.  Life is pretty awesome sometimes.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I have a tiny little dorm fridge.  This is pretty standard here, but I must admit I've been spoiled for the last two years by having a larger fridge.  They weren't anywhere approaching American size, but still.  The little fridge has a crisper drawer, and a shelf.  That's all.  Well, plus the door shelves.  And, really, I don't need anything more and it's totally sufficient for two people's needs.

It does really change the way you cook and think about food, though.  I would guess that between Anna and I, we go food shopping pretty much every other day.  Part of this is due to the size of the fridge, and part of it is due to the fact that food simply goes bad more quickly here.  I'm sure there are less preservatives, and my insides are happy for it.

Yesterday I was food shopping, and I really wanted sloppy joes.  So I bought a bit of ground meat, but the only available package was for a half kilo (a pound).  I took it home, and made myself a portion of sloppy joe. It was delicious.  But then I was left with all this extra meat, and it's not like I can just stick it in the freezer.  So I made pasta sauce.  I haven't made pasta sauce in so long, and I've forgotten how soothing it is.  With everything that's going on right now to make my life more intense, it was so lovely to dice onions, chop herbs, brown meat, and smash tomatoes.

The sauce turned out fantastic and it was even better today after sitting overnight.  After cooking, I always feel like things are going to be better.  And I think they will be.
our baby fridge

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lauren in Vienna

My stomach is making scary noises, but I am happy as a clam.