Monday, October, 16th, 2006
We ate breakfast on the train this morning with the two older ladies in our train compartment. Both were quite chatty and though not perfectly fluent in English, they were able to converse with us smoothly (much better than if we had tried to speak Hungarian, which we don't know a word of). One of the ladies (whose name we later learned was Marie) had several experiences with "Canadiana" as her daughter had been courted by one of us. She described how it had been a long 4 year relationship (filled with dancing) but it did not last. She also talked about her job which was as a felt artist, her entire family all work with it. It looks a lot like wool in its natural form and they make hats, carpets, stuffed animals, etc.
We had a lot of fun chatting with the ladies and when the train arrived in Budapest we left the train and were struck by what will likely be the biggest surprise of the trip... Marie, who had been met at the train station by her daughter Anna, offered to let us stay at her place for free. our book had mentioned scams so we were skeptical, plus we had actually made reservations for a hostel (for only the second time on our trip). Despite both of these facts, Marie and Anna seemed genuinely kind so we agreed to accept their kind offer. They even bought metro tickets for us since it's more expensive to get money at the train station. They were just insanely nice, especially for only knowing them for a couple of hours. They made us lunch and tea and we chatted with them in their very nice appartment, it was the Buda part of Budapest, which is much nicer and had a huge castle nearby. It was amazing! They also announced that they were going to their house in the country so we got to have their appartment to ourselves. How crazy is that? They were so trusting. I think that Tyler won them over with his personality, he's quite the charmer. :)
Their kindness really made Budapest one of the highlights of our trip, we had so much fun there. They had such a cool history as well. Marie and her husband work exclusively with felt and have written 30 books with both historical and technical content. We couldn't read any of them but we got to look at the pictures. There are international conferences held on the topic as well and they always go to them. They were one of the fairytale-like families... nice, generous, smart, industrious and we were lucky enough to meet them. :)
We spent the day walking about Buda and went to visit the castle. You get a great view of the city from up there. We wandered through the city and observed Hungarian culture. Meeting Marie and Anna made us feel very welcome in the city. We've also found that felafels and kebabs are the cheapest food in every country in Europe and Hungary was no exception (plus they were delicious). The only bad part of the free appartment we were staying in was that they had no hot water so we had to heat pots of water in order to take a bath but it wasn't so bad. You can't complain when you don't have to pay for anything. They also had this fun board game called "Catan" which we passed the night playing, it was so much fun. I had beginner's luck on my side. :)
-Jenny and Tyler, overwhelmed by kind Hungarians