Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Saturday in Pecs

So what is a Saturday like in Pecs? This is what I did yesterday.

My flat owners took me along on the trip to what we would call the farmers' market in the States. Szusza helped me buy some chicken and then we shopped independently. I had observed that one took the egg carton along. Last time it was a trade. This time if I had not had an egg carton I wouldn't have been able to get the eggs, or I guess I could have put them loosely in my bag, probably not a good idea! The sign over the booth says House of Jam.

Before I came to Hungary, one person who had recently traveled to Budapest told me that in the winter there might be a shortage of food in Pecs. Well, the above photos should show that certainly is not true. The woman in the lower photo with the black coat and aqua buttons is my neighbor/landlady. It was a total accident that I got her in this photo. She just happened to walk into the view as I was snapping the shutter.

I came back to my flat and worked on composing a lecture for later in March. Then because the day looked so beautiful I decided to go out walking and exploring.

Each day I walk down to Szent Mor and turn left on my way to the office. This time I decided to see where turning right would take me. I found that in a couple of blocks walking up hill gets serious. In Pecs one always knows what direction is north and south. If it's uphill, it's north.

I turned left at the top of the hill and found this nice view of a school. I really enjoy Hungarian design.

Then I found the stairs. This looks like a better way to get up this hill when I want to come to this area in the future.

My wandering took me to the Dom Church. Much more about this another time.

The panels on the door intrigued me. They are bronze casts and very three-dimensional, a feature not often used.

The Dom sits at the bottom of U-shaped courtyard. On one of the side buildings, the "guy" was on a balcony. He attracted a  lot of attention. I don't think a person or group walked by without taking a photo. I have no explanation about this, but it surely is interesting.

Walking through the park I found trees with very white bark. The bark peeling off remineded me a bit of the gum trees in Hawaii. Anybody know what kind of tree this? (Update: See comment posted below. Once I had an idea of what this was I did a search. I found pictures of the seed from the plane tree and remembered seeing some of those on the ground.)

I had found many statues on this walk. This one really struck me. It had no sign to tell me anything about it, but yet it projects a very strong message.

A few more steps took me to a typical Pecs view. Here is the foundation for a Turkish bath and right behind it is the Franscican Church. Culture and history just pile upon each other here.

I continued on towards Szechenyi Ter. I began to meet people eating ice cream cones, and that became too tempting. I went into McDonalds and ordered a McFlurry. I went to the upper level and sat down at a counter-type table that has 8 stools, 4 on each side. Soon a Hungarian family came to sit on the other side. This family included two young children. Across from me was a little boy, perhaps two years old. When I was ready to leave, I started to put my coat on and dropped it on the floor, and was just generally clumsy. I heard the mom laughing quietly. I looked up and saw that the little boy had a very sad expression on his face and was waving bye-bye to me. This will go right onto the list of priceless moments.

Pecs is full of shops for doing handwork. This doesn't surprise me because I know the beautiful pieces that have come from the Transylvanian Church that has a sister relationship to my church in Saint Paul. I had noticed magazines that looked very familiar, so stopped to take a good look. We see these titles in the US, but these versions appear to be published in Germany. The cost for one magazine is right about $10.00!

In the evening I walked over to the Burns' flat, carrying a bottle of wine. We watched curling and cross-country skiing on Euro Sport. So, that's what one does on a Saturday in Pecs.

Friday, February 26, 2010

And all that jazz

When I first went to Poland I took along some jazz music, thinking it would be novel. Well, the music was fine, but it was old news. Tonight I found out why. From the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, the State Department sponsored Jazz Tours. Musicians such as Brubeck, Louie Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Dizzy Gillepsie traveled in Africa, South American, and Eastern Europe and Russia to bring good music and good will.

This photo exhibit displays some of the great moments and smiling faces of children from Egypt to Burma. John Balien, from the U.S. Embassy spoke about how the Voice of America played jazz. Above is a photo of John with Zsuzsanna from American Corner as they opened the exhibit.

Above are two pictures of Brubeck. The top photo is from Poznan in 1956. The lower photo is from the Palace of Culture in Warsaw in the early 1970s. (I didn't forget Hungary. There are no photos of jazz ambassadors in Hungary.)

After lovely Hungarian refreshments, we moved to an auditorium for a jazz concert. This is the third concert I've been to this week. I began to think about hard it will be to leave Pecs. It is really a lovely place to be.

Having Trouble with Technology Ended Well

This morning I couldn't make the Internet work in my flat. Oh well! I walked to the end of Kiraly and met Thomas and Carol. Then we walked to the MAV ticket office and got our tickets for the train ride to Budapest for next Thursday.

From there I went to my office to use the computer. All of sudden both my mobile phone and desk phone were ringing. I learned that I needed to move to another office. Good thing I had gone to the office. I gathered up my personal belongings from the office and then went up one more floor to see my new place. It also is very nice.

I walked back to the Crystal Cafe and read the menu. Here menu doesn't mean a list of foods, it is what is being served that day. I read something about bean gulyas and something else I couldn't recognize by the name. Everything at this cafe is good. so I went in. This cafe has nice tablecloths and tableware, but it's the working people's cafe. People run here fast for lunch. I also see people coming in with round containers rather like the bento boxes in Hawaii. They pick up soup for several people and apparently take it back to the office or other work places. When one is finished, you simply get up from the table and walk over to the cash register and pay the equivalent of about $3.75.

Here's a photo of the dessert I couldn't identify. It made me think a bit of bread pudding. The bread was warm and moist, and as you can see there are plenty of poppy seeds. And oh what the Hungarians can do with cream! I'd surely eat this again.

When I got back to the flat I decided to try some trouble shooting. I moved the table with the computer closer to the wall that adjoins the owners' flat where the modem is. That cured the problem. There must be something in the wall that makes the signal transmission a bit touchy. Glad this is fixed. It really helps to have the Internet to keep in touch with everyone both in Pecs and in the States.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Oh Happy Day

I began to explore a possible location for a Fulbright appointment on a very cold day in February in Minnesota. When I read about the blooming almond trees in Pecs in March, I thought "sign me up." Today it's very cold in Minnesota, and I'm having a fabulous day in spring-time Pecs!

I decided to take myself out to breakfast. As I walked down to Kiraly, I saw a sign of spring. The palm trees that had been wrapped in burlap are now in the spring air. And when I walked by the same place later in the day, I saw the first customers out having drinks on a sidewalk table.

When I got to Szechenyi Ter, I saw many, many workmen (and no workwomen!) busy on the final renovations needed. This is quite a labor intensive activity.

The final trim stones are being added. This involves putting in a stone and then attempting to tamp it down. Then the workman removes the stone and adjusts the gravel underneath to make the stone set at a more level manner. Once it all in place someone comes along with the tamp machine and rolls it all down. This job didn't look like much fun to me. The person doing this gets a very severe vibration into the arms.

I wanted to walk on streets north of the Ter, but that turned out to be a bad idea because the volume of construction going on right now. I headed out to explore a couple of other places and then headed to a cukrasza for a cappuncino. There I pulled out my Hungarian homework and got busy trying to do the challenging assignments. One is to recognize common words such as exit, entrance, and ambulance.

I already knew some of these because of seeing them frequently on the street. Because there are so many languages spoken in Europe, much is done too with graphics. So the photo shows how I learned vegetable.

And how I learned fruit.

Then I noticed that the door was open on the Gazi Kaszim Pasha Mosque/Church. This site began to be a church in the 13th century. When the Ottoman Empire took over Pecs, the church was destroyed, and the stones were used to build a mosque. When, 150 years later, the Hungarians got control of Pecs again, the mosque began to be renovated into a Catholic Church again.

The present building has two sides with an altar in the open space in the middle. The side facing the Ter is the mosque building and it is rectangle in shape. An addition was made on the back side that is in the shape of a half circle. Each side contrasts in many ways from the other.

Here is a  picture of the mosque side taken from the opposite side.

Windows are very interesting.

Each of the four corners of this side of the church has a stone statue.

On each side of the altar in this side of the church is a plaque with a verse from the Koran. Right now I can read one word of the Hungarian. In the third line, segitsegert is help, the noun version of this word.

Here is a view back to the circle side.

This side is decorated with many frescos. I first noticed the word, Csalad, a word I learned just this week. That word means family. "Who is Saint Family?" Oh dah! The holy family. So I learned a new meaning for the word Szent; it's not always saint.

I was glad to see this inside of this very interesting building. The woman acting as receptionist thanked me three times for stopping in.

When leaving I looked up towards the hill, and on this beautiful clear, sunny day I could see the church up in the hills.

Walking back to my flat I turned down into a couple of courtyards. In one I found this view of trees. What looks like a bunch of leaves or perhaps a big squirrel's nest is in fact a bunch of mistletoe. This is a parasite that lives in trees. I saw a lot of it, too, in the Ukraine. It will eventually kill the tree.

I finish today with a view from another courtyard I discovered for the first time. Everyone I look, Pecs is eye candy.

So on a day when Minnesotans are dealing with cold temperatures and too much snow along the streets, I enjoyed spring in Pecs.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fog to Tatros

This morning was very foggy. When I got to the corner with the bank clock I was surprised to see the temperature was 13 Celsius. This is the coldest I've been at that temperature. By lunch time the fog was burning off a bit.

I went to the Arkade to get some things from the paper store. Then I decided to get brave and get in line for sort of a cafeteria in the Arkade. By pointing I got a nice lunch. This tasted good a somewhat cool and damp day. I then walked to my favorite place and ordered a cappucino and started to work on my Hungarian home work. This assignment for this week will keep me more than busy. When I get it all done, I should actually be able to say something!

This evening I went to the Tatros Concert with Mark, a Fulbrighter on a High School Teacher Exchange, and his wife, Chen. Now I know how to get into Dominican House for a concert. I've walked back and forth on that street and couldn't figure out where the door was to any concert area.

Tatros is from Budapest. They play music from the Csango group of Hungarians now found in present day Romania.

The instruments were different than I expected. The lute is important.

But what really surprised me were what I called flutes in my head. When I came  home and looked up the web site for this group, I found they are called wooden whistles. Indeed they are made from beautiful wood. They come in different sizes. I marvled at how men with large hands could play the very smallest ones.

For their encore they led a circle dance. What a pleasant evening!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Walking Around Pecs -- February 23

Spring seems to be arriving in Pecs. Yesterday I noticed workers sweeping the grit and sand off the the walks and squares. This was put down when the surfaces were very icy. My first steps certainly revealed that much had been done to give the Pecs streets and walks a spring cleaning yesterday.

The sun was shining. The tops of the buildings on my route were lit by the early morning sun.

To begin here is the top of the National Theatre.

Next is a building shown before in this blog. This building is along the west side of Szechenyi Ter and was built originally as a bank.Now it holds offices of many kinds.

I also watched the stone mason at work for a bit. The final details are being made on the renovation of Szechenyi Ter.

Here I turn left and enter into a little courtyard. This had some surprises this morning. Sculptures had appeared. Here is an example.

And above is a hopeful sign of spring -- umbrellas for the outdoors cafe.

At my office, I finalized my lesson for the English class. However, about the time it was to begin, the teacher came to tell me that only one student had come that day. The casual way students attend classes in Europe is always a surprise to American professors! The teacher wanted to know if I would still come for a conversation dialogue. Sure! I walked into the room and found they were examining what I guess would be called American slang. Words such as ain't, gonna and wanna were on the board. We had a great time discussing these plus words such as got'cha and all the possible meanings for "I got screwed." The student watches a lot of American movies and also reads American comics. That is where she had gathered these words. This was indeed a fun lesson.

After the class, I walked past T-Mobile and put down some money so I have minutes back on my phone. Then I walked to the Arkade and had a yogurt, ice cream and fruit sundae. After I was finished I walked out a nearby door that had been closed during the recent cold weather.

What a surprise -- a lovely little park.

I walked back to Szechenyi Ter and tried the Nador Gallery again. I think the reason I didn't get into the gallery the other day is that I simply didn't know how to open the door. Nador was once upon a time a very elegant hotel. I don't know why it went out of business. The building is now down to the basic walls and makes a very different background for display of art.

Here is work of Zsuzsuanna Deak.
And here is a snapshot of the floor. From the gallery I walked over to the American Corner and returned a DVD. Last evening I watched Fargo again.

Then I went back to McDonald's for awhile -- I couldn't go home because my apartment was being cleaned. Oh, what a problem! I was amused watching two young Hungarian women interact with American male students. One student was going on about Women's Day in March 8, and the Hungarian women insisted this wasn't celebrated in Hungary. Meanwhile another young woman asked with body language if a seat was free at my table. I moved my coat so she could sit down. She responded: Danke Shoen.  So I left to go back to my flat to prepare for my Hungarian lesson tomorrow. Now just where all of us? It does get confusing sometimes I'm feeling very much at home, too.

Had to laugh when I got home and went onto the Facebook page. The Kiva is promoting that women stand on bridges on Women's Day, March 8 as a way of promoting peace. Maybe this day will be celebrated!

Just remembered I had promised to get something written about Norvirus as a lesson for tomorrow, and I haven't done a thing about it!

Hope you enjoy these photos.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Day to Remember, but no Photos

Off to the office a little early, because I thought a translator was coming to meet me. That didn't happen, so I started working on follow-up materials from the lecture I did last Friday. However, when I started to print out a journal article, it came out printed in yellow and hardly legible. Then the teacher I usually work with on Monday came to me and said she had to be away for an appointment and would I take the class by myself? No problem.

Then the Tuesday teacher came and asked if I would come next Monday extra early to work with another class. No problem.

When the classes were done, I tried to organize a bit more for future classes. I heard my phone making a funny noise and realized I'd missed some calls. When I tried to return one, I got a message that had 15 seconds left on my phone card! Well, that took care of the phone for today.

Then at 13:15 I took off walked to the Immigration Office. I got there at 13:35, faster than I anticipated and wondered what to do. Well, soon it became apparent. Stand in line. About 13:50 a man came and opened the gate and we were allowed into the building where we took a number based upon the language we wished to speak.

At 14:00 the clerks appeared. I had the second English spot so didn't have to wait too long. By 14:20 I was ready to walk out of there. I have a temporary permit to carry in my passport and in 2-3 weeks I got back to the permanent permit. This is a relieft. Now when I go to Budapest next week, I'm going to ask for help getting rid the April 1 airline reservation that Delta made to get so I would not be overstaying 90 days.

From Csende I walked over to the Faculty of Medicine location, about a 10-12 minute walk, and caught the #2 bus back into the main area of Pecs. Then I walked up to Szechenyi Ter and grabbed a snack. About 15:45 I went to the Vorosmarty Building and got ready to give a late afternoon lecture. Wires got crossed. I had been told the class went to 17:50, the students told it went to 17:15. Oh, well,  no problem.

I also learned today that the two doctoral classes got enough registrations to fill. So I'll have more than enough to do.

Have to get organized for tomorrow's English for Special Purpose class. I had this all organized -- now where did I put it?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Real Sunday

After Sundays that always seem to be snowstorms, a real one arrived. I was very glad to see sun coming into the windows. About 10:30 or so I took off  to the Arkade to pick up a few groceries to get me through the next few days.

Sometimes when walking my back begins to ache so I stopped  after shopping for a break at my favorite place in the Arkade for a cappucino. This place has everything from coffee to my favorite black currant juice to great ice cream sundaes to grilled cheese sandwiches. There certainly is something for anytime I want to stop there.

On the way back home I took the short cut. This takes me through a construction area by the synagogue. The city is building an underground parking garage here. The parking garage is done, now the landscaping needs to be done on the ground level. This morning, for the first time, the sidewalk was not frozen ice and the sun was shining. I stopped to take a picture of one of the side doors. In April the synagogue opens for tours. I'm looking forward to that.

In mid-afternoon I took off to go to the Cella Septichora. I particularly wanted to see an Icon exhibit there, one of the events of the Capital of Culture year. The exhibit disappears at the end of the week, so it was indeed time to get there. Crossing into Szechenyi Ter I could see the TV tower. Some day when it's warm I'll take the bus up into the Mescek Hills and climb up the tower. I continued along Janus Pannonius, and by the famous Padlock Gate I saw a young couple trying to decide where to attach their lock.

The Icon exhibit at the Cella comes from Visual Arts Gallery, Sliven, Bulgaria. The works were completed at various times in the 19th Century.

This is St. Nicholas. This icon is probably about 30x24 inches.

I liked this icon of St. Theodore. Saints infrequently get to have a horse. It is also large like the one pictured above.

The icons were all different sizes. These were about the size of piece of paper. I enjoyed seeing these icons very much. I will write much more about the Cella itself at another time.

But before going on, in the midst of the Roman ruins, here's a 21st century digital display done with 8 images.

I chose to go on this day because at 17:00 there would be a choir concert. The  concert was called, "We Leave forAmerica" concert, and presented by the Pannon Volan Bartok Bela Male Choir. This is a great choral group. I enjoyed this very much. There was a full house, and then some. For the second time I saw what to do when there isn't enough seating. You simply go into the back somewhere and find more chairs. I was the first American I bet, but not the last, who will be surprised to hear "My Lord What a Morning" sung in British English as might be used by a very proper butler. They even got the G on the end of morning, instead of singing mornin'.

The Cella has a plexglass roof and people on ground level can walk over it. It was quite an experience to be in the 4th century Roman works, listening to a choral concert, while people walked their dogs, children ran, and teens rode bicycles over the ceiling.

By the time the concert finished it was dark. Walking by the Gaza Kaszim Pasa I snapped this picture of the windows on the side.

It had been too many meals of soup, yogurt and grilled cheese sandwiches. I was ready for a great change. So I tried the Replay Restaurant on Kiraly. I had a wonderful Hungarian (?) meal of BBQ pulled pork, cole slaw, and French Fries. It hit the spot!

A great Sunday and not a flake of snow.