Well, here I am in Kecskemet, Hungary! The flights over went well – on the longest one, Boston-London, I got lucky and was seated in an aisle seat, with nobody next to me. We had really bad turbulence so I only slept for about an hour. They fed us twice though, so that was nice. The London airport is interesting. They won’t tell you what gate you’re flying out of until 1 1/2 hours before your flight leaves. Since you don’t know where to go (and you might have to ride a tram or bus or something to get there), it’s best to sit and wait in the central area. Which happens to be full of shops and restaurants. I had a 3 1/2 hour layover there, so I had to sit in the middle of this giant shopping and food center for two hours and try not to buy things! Savvy marketing there, you Englishmen, you!
After landing in Budapest, I collected my suitcase and went through customs without problems. After some confusion, I bought a bus ticket and got on #200E to take me to the train station. I thought the train station would be in a kind of open (obvious) area, but it wasn’t! If I hadn’t had directions from Steve at the studio, I don’t think I would have found it. As it was, I got most of the way there and then was trying to decide if I should go left or right when a very nice Hungarian gentleman came up to help me. He didn’t speak English, and I don’t speak Hungarian, but he got me on the right platform. I then got myself on the wrong train (I think! I’m still not sure what happened!). The train went to Kecskemet, but my ticket wasn’t the right ticket and I had to pay the conductor a bit more $$ when she came around, and then they didn’t announce stops, so I sat in my seat and sweated, trying to figure out how I’d know when to get off. The stations are also not labeled in super visible places…. According to the instructions I got, the trip should have taken an hour and 10 minutes, so I finally decided to just get off after an hour or so. Some young guys were exiting at that time too, so I asked them if this “is Kecskemet?” And they said yes and then hauled my suitcase off the train for me! (It weighed 65 pounds.) How great is that?
When I got to the studio (took a taxi), Ilona and a nice guy whose name I can’t spell were there waiting. They took me up to my room and then Ilona gave me a quick tour, and then we went to a convenience store across the street to buy some food. I was going to unpack and go to bed, but a lady named Agnes saw me in the kitchen putting my food away and invited me to a late dinner with everyone else in the studio. They made “stuffed pancakes” which were crepes filled with mushrooms and some sort of sauce folded into squares and then baked for 5 or 10 minutes. They also had a Hungarian sauerkraut, hot pickled peppers, corn, watermelon, and beer. It was all delicious!
There don’t seem to be many people at the studio right now, but I think part of that is that it’s the weekend, and part of it is that the students from West Hungary University haven’t started yet either. At any rate, everyone who’s here is very kind and welcoming. I was invited to go to Budapest to look around today, and I wanted to make it, but I slept solidly until 1:30pm. They left at 9:30am – we’d agreed that if I was up and ready, I’d go with, and if not, they’d just leave without me. It would have been fun to go, but I think I’d have been too tired to enjoy it much. Next time!
Today, after finally getting up!, I walked around the town a little bit. It’s very beautiful, clean, and feels safe. I saw lots of young people and families with little kids. I ate lunch in the town square and people-watched. A tiny little boy (and his mom) went zooming past me, he on a plastic, push-with-your-feet “motorcyle.” All of the sudden, he stopped right next to me, jumped off his toy, and went running as fast as his little legs would carry him, arms stretched out wide, to where a man had parked his real motor scooter, about 10 feet away. It was hilarious. His mom had to run to catch him and then distract him to keep him from going back.
Tomorrow I find out where my studio space is. Hopefully I can get set up and get working. I’m feeling ansty!
Other anecdotes, and a lot more pictures can be seen on my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amy-Uthus-Pottery/101902445002