Friday, April 30, 2010

Dance Festival

Last evening after a rest and some soup, I walked to Szechenyi Ter to see the chain dance. I got there for the last minutes. The chain dance is for anyone.

Then everyone went to Jokai Ter for the Gala. I got there no late to get a chair, just like about 400 other persons!  To my surprise each group had their own musicians.

Here are the Bulgaria musicians.

And here are the women dancers in their beautiful aprons.

Next came dancers from another town in Hungary.

They were followed by dancers from Finland. Here are the men.

And here's what happened later. I've never seen a dance like this before.

The audience loved the children from Pecs.

After this the dancers didn't match the written program and I could not understand the oral announcements.

So here are more dancers from somewhere!

The final visiting group came from Turkey. Beautiful!

The program took 2 hours. Jokai Ter has some blocks that are stony. My left foot was on one of those. This morning my left feet felt very bad! It was worth it though. These dancers groups were wonderful.

Szeged Trip

On Tuesday I left with Thomas to go to Szeged. The topography changes from the hills/low mountains here in Pecs to an area that is very, very flat. We arrived near Szeged about 13:00. We stopped a what looked like a shopping center and indeed found a food court where we had lunch. Meanwhile Thomas was contacting the museum he came to met about meeting there.

We got there in about 20 minutes. We found that the staff had meetings for him all afternoon, so I walked up to the nearby hotel where I had a reservation. It was a fine hotel and in a good location about 3 blocks from the museum and also near the center of Szeged.

Let's start with the Tisza River. A flood on this river in 1879 basically demolished Szeged. This area is like northwest Minnesota, very flat, so the water could go over a great area easily. The city was build again carefully to have wide streets and many park areas.

Here is a street scene. Notice there are not many cars. Bikes are big here. I walked a few blocks and found the Szechenyi Ter in this city.

This is the Town Hall on the west side of the Ter.

One thing I wished to find was the synogogue for it called the most beautiful Jewish house of worship in Hungary. That is true.

The dome is to representing Infinity and Faith.

The synogogue also has beautiful stained windows.

Above the altar area.

Walking back towards the museum I found the sidewalk cafe area of Szeged.  I walked back to the museum to its sidewalk area and waited for Thomas until his meetings were done. We found a nice place for dinner. I went back to the hotel and went to bed quite early because I was not feeling well.

The next morning I walked down to the Dom Ter. The Ter has the Dom on north side and the other sides had statues of Hungary people. Many elementary age students were in this area with paper assignments.

I went back to the museum and looked around. I could not enter the special area that Thomas told me about. By this time I was feeling more bad then the day before. I had to teach the next day for the whole day, and decided to go back to Pecs early so I rest. I got a bus at 13:00 and got back to Pecs at 17:15. Riding a public bus in Hungary is just fine. The bus is very comfortable and stopped a couple of times, mostly so that people could smoke!

Walking home I could a surprise. The fountains by the Szinhaz were running.

I'm off now for some shopping because tomorrow is a holiday.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Finished and Sick

I have completed my teaching for the 2nd doctoral nursing class. This was hard. I have encountered a nasty, respiratory infection that made it hard to breath and speak! I've had champagne stored for this day, but don't think that's a good idea today. Feeling too rotten to go out to the nearby dance festival, too, that I've been looking forward to seeing. Well hopefully tomorrow will be better for many reasons. I'll share then about my trip to Szeged. Really enjoyed it.

Addendum: After a couple hours of rest and some soup, along with coughing and other things, I felt a bit better and did go to the dance festival. I'm glad I did because tonight was the last time for the dancing. But standing up for 2 hours took all me down again. Photos perhaps tomorrow.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Starting a New Week

I got an e-mail telling me I had a Powerpoint to do about Metropolitan State University for the International Week coming up. I did most of the work on this Sunday morning, and then headed off for a short walk. I was curious about what might be happening in Szechenyi Ter after all the excitement of Saturday afternoon and evening. I found it very quiet. Now with the construction fences gone, I can take some pictures of things in the Ter. The above building was constructed to be a bank. It has lots and lots of beautiful Zsolnay decorations. On the first floor lower left you may be able to read Kavehaz. This is where I went on my second morning in Pecs when I was hungry and there was absolutely nothing to eat yet in my flat.

In the middle of the Ter there are monuments. It seems every Hungarian city has a monument like this. In some cities one is told that the building monument cause the plague to stop. Here the story is that the monument helps us to remember all the people who died.

Here is a closeup of one of the panels on the monument. This monument is respected, but not held in reverence. During the basketball team welcome people climbed all over this monument to see the celebration up by the mosque church.

In the afternoon, Thomas graciously offered to take me up into the Mescek Hills. We had a very nice hike.

We were looking for wild flowers, but the bear garlic still remained the dominant plant up in the hills. We went all the way up to an observatory platform. Below is the view from there.

You can see we were quite aways above Pecs. We did most of the climb in the car, up to a trailhead in a national forest. We then did a circle drive to the north and west and worked our way back to Pecs, stopping at Tesco as long as we were basically there. I brought home some pancake syrup with the idea of making French toast one of these days.

In the evening I took another walk and got this nice photo of the moon over the City Hall.

Today, Monday was the last day for one of the English classes. I have very much enjoyed working with the students. This class had a blend of students from Hungary, Portugal, and Finland. What fun!

Tomorrow I'm going to Szeged and will return late Wednesday evening. On Thursday morning I must leap quickly into a full day of teaching. Thus the blog may be silent for a couple of days, but I'm sure I'll come back from Szeged with some good stories and some good pictures.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Three Busy Days

On Thursday afternoon I left for Szombathely for the Faculty of Health Sciences Scientific Conference. This conference rotates among the various Hungarian cities in which the Faculty holds classes; that's why the journey to Szombathely. I walked over to the Vorosmarty Building to meet the bus and no one was there. I called Agnes and found that somehow I had missed the message that the meeting place was changed to the Ret building where my office is. She quickly called the trip organizer and also a cab. The taxi ran me over to the other address rather quickly. We didn't leave as soon as I was on the bus, so I guess I didn't hold up anyone.

The trip took 5 long hours. We have to drive west to get past the bottom of Lake Balaton and then all the way northwest to Szombathely. The drive is on 2 lane roads that carry also bikers, farm equipment, and horses and wagons. The road is up and down hills and very windy, and goes through countless villages, all of which require slowing down. There is of course road construction as well. And traveling at dusk and then in the dark required the driver to keep a keen eye out for deer.

The trip took me to some different types of scenes for Hungary than what I've seen thus far.

Here are some photos.

A village scene that I liked -- and this and several following taken through the bus window.

Logging operations and obviously then forest areas, too.

Cheerful flats

New single family homes

Rapeseed field

Rapeseed is increasingly raised as a source of animal feed or now also for bio-deisel. In the states we use Canola oil made from modified form of this plant and largely grown in Canada.

We finally arrived in Szombathely a bit after 8 PM. We went to a University of Pecs building and had dinner. Then a very kind professor there took me to my "accomodation." By this time it was very dark and I had no idea where I was.

Here is the room. I noticed all the art and pictures were religous. There was a crucifix over my bed and I wondered if perhaps I had landed in a convent. The next day walking about I finally found a sign and found I was in St. Martin's Academy Tourist Guest House. A panel on the outside of the building illustrated a tour with in Hungary, then within Central Europe and finally extending also in Austria and Germany related to St. Martin. Ah, the St. Martin that is celebrated in Poznan, Poland.

The tower I had glimped in the dark turned out to be:

The conference opened in the building in which I had stayed.

After the opening we all walked over the classroom building. This puzzled me for awhile, but I finally figured out the classroom building did not have a room a large enough to hold the entire group at one time. The opening included an address by a member of parliament and the mayor of Szombatlhely. The photographer is pertinent too. I've never been to an event or concert that didn't include photographers and press. (I've even been stopped in the street three times for interviews, but let go merrily on my way when I explain I don't speak Hungarian.).

I listened to presentations about graduate students' research projects until 14:00. Each was 15 minutes long. I was quite surprised how much I could make out from the power point presentations. Can't understand much Hungarian, but I'm beginning to be able to read a bit of it. I had a student with me and when she noticed I was writing down words to look up later, she whipped out her cell phone and used a dictionary on it to translate the words in questions.

She also took my camera and snapped the picture below. The color is funny because it was taken against a paneled wall. I played with Photoshop a bit to make it come out other than red brown.

After lunch I took off for some sight-seeing.

I quickly found the Evangelical Church.

It has very nice sculptures above each door. I especially liked this Nativity scene. It looks sweet and simple compared to how this scene if often portrayed.

More walking brought me to the market square. Szmobathely literally means Saturday market, and it is named after a market from 200 years ago. I saw this great big space and thought, "Szombathely has a rynek." Below are some of my favorite scenes in this huge area.

Most monuments that look like this relate to the plague. This one, however, is different. Each of the four panels commemorates a different event. I took a photo of the marker for the most recent event and will work on it as part of my next Hungarian class.

Walking back to my "accomodation" I found this lovely statute.

This may look like the Virgin Mary, but it is actually St. Istvan with one of his children. It is found on one end of park that is about 50 feet wide and extends for about 4 blocks. It is a great way to organize a park.

In the evening we went to a catering hall for a lovely dinner. We were greatly entertained by a group of dancers. The adults did jazz and modern dance primarily. There were elementary students who danced the classic Viennese waltz.

This morning found me dragging my suitcase down one block of stairs. Slowly, slowly and things finally get done.

Presentations today were by faculty members. The first was in German, and mine was in English, the rest in Hungarian. I have no idea how many people could understand me.

The conference closed with full hour of thanking people. I came home with a certificate thanking me for my presentation encased in a lovely velvet folder.

The bus ride was shorter coming back. This time I was in a front seat and could see out the window. I could observe that our average speed was about 45 mph. It takes a long time to make a big trip at that speed.

Walking back to my flat I came up a great crown at Szencheyi Ter. There were three marching bands about.

I stopped to watch for awhile, but it seemed like the only thing happening was taking photos. I wanted to get home to change clothes and relax for a bit, so continued on. That's when I found a surprise at Szinhaz Ter.

Wonder if I will see this now every Saturday. I didn't know it was a traditional place for wedding pictures.

After reading e-mail and doing laundry, I went out again to find something to eat. When I got to Szenchenyi Ter, it was obvious something was happening. The place was packed and flags were waving.

I stood around trying to figure out what was happening and enjoying the music that was played. Then a big stretch limo pulled up in front of the church and a woman got out. Everyone began cheering loudly. Then more got out. I was trying to figure out what musical group this could be. More women kept getting out and then I saw they were all wearing gold medals.

Finally put it together that this the Pecs Women's Basketball Team when a big banner was displayed. They were coming home triumphant after winning the Hungarian basketball championship.
They all addressed the crowd. Two members of the team are American. The fans are ardent! Back in my flat I did a bit of internet research and found this team is called a powerhouse. I felt lucky to have stumbled into this event. It was fun to be a part of the crowd and to generally people watch.

And other than the above, I've done nothing for three days!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Never a Dull Moment

This morning I walked through Szechenyi Ter on the way to my Hungarian lesson. I couldn't believe my eyes. It looked as if someone was setting up a sidewalk cafe. When I came back about 2 hours later people were sitting at tables with drinks. I couldn't figure this out for there were no restaurants in the area that could be serving these tables. Then when I walked a bit more I realized this was a photo shoot. There was a woman all dressed up -- you will see her below, with a baguette under her chin and she was pretending to use it like a violin.

I came home to my flat and then walked back about 2 hours later for another meeting. The tables were totally gone! However, the Ter had a nice look to it.

After the meeting I passed through this area again and this time noticed a crowd down by the Zsolany Fountain, so I went there to see what was going on. The model was again getting all fixed up. Her appearance actually shows two things about Hungarian dress. Women truly do wear fancy hats, particularly when I first came and the weather was colder. They also wear very high heels, 4 inchers, with very pointed toes. It just makes my feet hurt to look at them.

The model, however, was not involved in what I observed next. The Zsolany Fountain was actually running and there were many flower pots around it. The shot was of a couple meeting and then hugging each other in greeting. Later this afternoon the flower pots are all gone and the fountain is dry, so perhaps this will be only time I see the fountain running.

Took a walk this evening and while I was out a truck came and picked up all the plants for the Ter as well. Glad in many ways that my usual walk takes me through this area for there is something different going on every day.

The walk was sort of a celebration. I've been working hard on creating the course I have to teach next week, and am down to about one hour of work. That is do-able tomorrow.

And tomorrow afternoon I go to Szombathely for two days. The Faculty of Health Science is having a Scientific Conference there. The Faculty teaches in four different cities in Hungary and this conference rotates from one place to the next and so that's why I'm going to Szombathely. It is almost on the Austrian border, probably a 3 hour bus ride at least.

The blog may be silent. I do not think I'll drag my computer along with me. And I'll hope for a hotel room with a TV. That would be a nice change.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Better Tuesday

The sun was shining this morning and the day just had a whole different feel. I think spring is here to stay and summer may make some appearances soon as well. Even the students commented on the different "feel" of the day.

Walking to my office building takes me through Jokai Ter. I took the above photo for I thought that blooming trees are a fleeting moment of spring and wouldn't be there much longer. I taught the English class along today. I feel so at home here that I think going back to Minnesota will indeed be a shock.

I did a bit of grocery shopping and then headed back to my flat. I noticed this menu at a nearby restaurant. Bear garlic grows up in the Mecsek Hills. I've not seen it, just heard the description. It is a broad green plant that appears as almost the first green thing of spring. It is called Bear's garlic because in Hungary the bear comes out in the spring. If it finds something to eat, it stays out and spring is coming. If it doesn't find anything, it goes back to the den and this is a sign of more winter -- just another GroundHog day, but with a whole different kind of animal.

I started to work on the course I teach this week. At 3 PM Thomas came by and we went around the corner to a coffee shop and planned our trip to Szeged next week. Then back to the flat to keep working on the course.

At about 7:30 I wandered out to get an ice cream cone. It is so fun to be able to walk 5 minutes and have so many fun options.

The Town Hall looked lovely in the early evening light.