I really don’t know even where to begin this journal entry. It has been just one week into my stay in Budapest and there are so many things I could write about. I could of course tell you about this wonderful street upon which the tea house in which I sit is located called Raday Ut. Or perhaps my early morning walks along the Danube and through the street of this city I am quickly falling in love with. I have experienced so much that even though the week has seemingly flown by, it seems as if it has been packed with so very, very much. More than I could of expected or hoped for.
I guess you could say that I have quickly adapted to life here. I am not sure if it is Budapest itself, or just perhaps that this is the first time that I have lived in a big city, but I love it. Yes, there are some things that I may wish to overlook such as the poverty that I see in the streets occasionally, (especially in the underground) where the peasants from the countryside come to sell their wares, but that would be impossible as they are everywhere. Some sell flowers which often are wilted in the summer sun, while yet others sell such things as batteries or clothes or anything else they can to make a living. Its obvious as I walk by them that they have a hard life and that really challenges me, especially my faith. Tonight when I was walking out of the metro station down from my flat, I found myself talking to God, much as I have since I was a small boy back in Euclid Ohio and saying to Him – “God, you fucked up. Why would you put us in such a seemingly fruitless situation on this earth in which some people suffer as much as that which I so often see?” As soon as the thought came into my mind, so did the thought that I was committing blasphemy or something like that which would cause me to be damned in hell for eternity. But I didn’t care, He had best have a good explanation when I have to opportunity to meet him face to face. How could I even think such a thing and what in the world would my mother who goes to church daily think when she reads this? I could only hope that once I pass from this world it will all be explained to me in a way that it will make sense. There certainly hasn’t been what I would consider a suitable explanation though countless souls have attempted over the years.
Anyway, enough of that topic, lets get back to that of some lighter subjects, like life in general in Budapest. I really love my flat, as well as where it is situated very close to just about anything one could want. I’m tired of watching CNN and the BBC, but am grateful that at least I have TV to watch. I have pretty much become desensitized to the continual coverage of the doom and gloom in the world in such places as the middle east. I still haven’t figured out how to use my vintage washing machine, but Angela has promised to show me how to figure it out when time permits. It has the weirdest system you could imagine. Speaking of Angela, she really is a charming, charming lady. I had perhaps one of the more enjoyable evenings of my trip the other night with her in a small cafe near our building. I’m not quite sure how it came about, but there we sat until very late sipping our wine from some region in Hungary. It was a visit that was filled with so much laughter that I didn’t want the night to end, but it did. I’m still getting used to the way they greet and say goodbye over here, a kiss on each cheek if you know someone well. Trouble is, I often find myself wondering if I know someone well enough to kiss them as such, so I often wait for them to initiate it. I guess I could say I at least know a few people from whom I can expect such a greeting from. My landlady, Gabrielle, always get a kiss on the cheeks from me, which I am pretty sure she appreciates. I’d put a picture up of her, but as of yet she will not allow me to take one as she does not look decent. Seems to indicate this as she throws her arms up and laughs when I suggest a photo. I met Angela’s grandmother tonight who is charming as well. I had to laugh as when I met her, I told Angela to tell her that now I knew where she gets her beauty from. Of course I meant that Angela got her beauty from her granny, but somehow Angela thought I was referring to the fact that she goes to the gym is why she is beautiful.(we had gone to the gym together the other night) I quickly caught on to how she interpreted my comment, and corrected her in my implication that it was from her grandmother, and not the gym that her beauty was derived.
On a another note, I have only been here a week and I have already set up an office, albeit in the completely remodeled and modern main public library just a few blocks from my flat. 😉 Oh, c’mon, I didn’t set up an office there, but one would think so with as much time as I spend there. It is a beautiful place. Today I was able to somehow get permission to photograph the facility next week. I told them my intent was for my personal web site, but I am confident that once they see the panoramas, they will definitely want to buy them. I figure the shoot should be worth one moths rent, or HUF 73,500 forints. They have a cafe in the bottom floor and then several floors above, each with a different purpose. Most of my time is spent on either the 2nd floor where you pay HUF 400 forint for one hour of internet, or the 5th floor where you can use the internet for free but must sign up. Just like in the military years ago when I learned to make friends with such key people as the cooks, mail-clerk and the armory attendant who passed our weapons after countless hours of cleaning, I have made an effort to “charm” – as Amanda back in Scotland would say – the timekeeper of the internet.
The opportunities to make an income here seem endless. Unlike back in California, the competition for my trade of web design and programming seems almost non-existent. People marvel at the panoramas I am able to complete for them in front of their very own eyes and in only a matter of minutes. The other night I was having dinner in a cafe called Cafe Soul just down from my flat. I had my laptop opened up and I asked to see the manager. He watched as a panorama shot earlier in the day was quickly assembled. He didn’t speak English at all, and to be honest, I could not tell if he was impressed or not. I gave him my email address thinking my effort was fruitless. That was until the next day when I got an email from a guy who designed their web site. They wanted two panoramas, one outside, and one inside. I replied that it would be HUF 10,000 forint for each one but I would take the payment in the equivalent of meals, as the restaurant is very nice and dinner for two can run as little as HUF 5,000 forint. (doing the math, that means 3 or 4 very nice dinners of goulash and paprikas!) I ended up shooting the panoramas last night and they came out excellent. When time permits, I will walk Raday Ut. and go into each restaurant, perhaps making similar arrangements with each one. I figure I can perhaps eat like a king while I am here.
Speaking of income, it is my intent that over the course of the next couple weeks, that I will spend some time taking various panoramas of the city and when finished, I will go to the main tourism office and perhaps “strike a deal”. I can’t imagine they’d say no. I took a vertical shot of a museum/cathedral near my flat yesterday morning which is stunning! I am often asked how I can support myself while I am traveling, and my reply is always that I take my work with me. Right now I am almost finished with a web site project for a doctor whose specialty is penis enlargement. No joke! The project has provided for quite a few laughs, especially with Angela and Kriszta with whom I have shared some of the before and after pictures with. Just as a side note, you never would imagine the shapes and sizes of some of the before and after pictures, and no, similar to the deal with the restaurants, I won’t be doing an exchange of services as the previously mentioned good Lord took care of me in that department. 😉
In closing this entry, perhaps I should share one of the more troubling aspects of my stay here so far – my plans on staying or leaving. That thought continually runs through my mind each day. There are some things I definitely miss about the states, but as of yet, nothing that is “pulling” me back so to speak. I keep telling people that if I were to find a good woman and an equally good job, I would stay here indefinitely. All my possessions are safely stored away back in California and only cost a mere $35 dollars per month to keep there. As for a job, I have already stated the opportunities are endless for an entrepreneur like myself. Regarding the woman, that would only be a matter of time I am sure. I have not even been here a week and I have had a few different dates, all with wonderful ladies. Without tipping my hat, my heart is quickly growing very fond of one of them though. We will just have to see what develops.
Well, with all of that being said, perhaps I should end this entry and get on with the new day which has just arrived. (it is Friday morning and I am continuing this entry from last night) If you have made it this far and enjoy reading this entries, I would love a note from you telling me so. I had intended to stop my writing when I got to Budapest, but an email from a friend back home telling me how much she enjoyed my journal has motivated me to continue on, if only for now… Take care.
PS – Having a few minutes before the library, aka my office, opens, I thought I’d share with you the following as I sit in this small cafe. I have been most fortunate to have found a lovely little restaurant called Ráday Étkezde near my flat which is only open for breakfast (I discovered today) and lunch. The nice thing about this place is you can have a great meal for a very low price. Today I had an omelet, two pieces of bread, orange juice, and a cappuccino for HUF 600 forint, or about 3 dollars. Afterward, I decided to walk the other part of my neighborhood while I waited for the 10:00 opening of the library. In doing so, I would like you to know that even though four years ago when I first arrived here, being petrified I would be thrown in jail for some strange reason or mugged on the metro, I feel 100% safe here on the streets of Budapest. I am sure there are some areas I should not venture into, but for the most part, this is a very, very safe city…