The Balaton

We’ve spent the past 10 days or so at the Balaton – a large lake about an hour from Budapest.  It’s one of the larger lakes in Europe (~70 x 10 km) with lots of great views.  The lake draws a significant number of tourists from within Hungary as well as the rest of Europe.  We’ll spend another short stretch there before the school year begins and then visit periodically throughout the fall.  Our base there is a small village called Balatonederics, a small village built into the slopes rising above the lake in the northwest corner (halfway between Kesthely and Badacsony on the map below). Dora’s parents have a summer home there and spend half of the year there and half in Budapest.

 I have a series of posts planned about our adventures by the lake.  For starters, though, here are a couple of pictures — one showing a view OF Balatonederics and the second showing the view FROM Balatonederics.

Not the best shot of the kids, but it gives you some idea of the landscape.  This picture is taken from Szigligeti Var, a castle atop a hill in the neigboring visit of Szigliget.  You can see the lake, and directly above the the kids heads on the hillside in the distance is the village of Balatonederics.

This panorama is from the uppermost road in Baltonederics.  Panka and I biked up there one morning and enjoyed the terrific views.  The lake is to the right and various hills dot the basin surrounding the lake.  The plateau in the middle of the picture (Badacsony) is about 15km away.


 And finally, here is Panka and her bike at the same spot at the top of Balatonederics.

Our apartment

While in Budapest, we will be staying in an apartment building on the Buda side of the city.  Budapest is divided in half by the Danube (Duna) river; the Buda side to the west of the river and is hilly and more residential.  The Pest side is flat and has more business and attractions (Parliament, Opera House, etc).  Our apartment, which  it formerly belonged to Dora’s grandmother, is conveniently located in the same building as Dora’s parents. To give you an idea of where we are situated, here are a couple of panorama shots taken from our apartment windows:

This first picture is from a bedroom window facing the street.  It is a bit distorted because I used a program to stitch a couple of shots together to get the panorama (I can assure you that the street and buildings are straight).  It is a fairly busy thoroughfare, though you can see the hills of Buda in the background. 

This shot is from our kitchen.  It shows the inside of the block formed by a couple of busy thoroughfares.  You can see the backs of some large apartment buildings, but also some other smaller houses and buildings that have apartments in them.

Inching Toward Residency

One of our big concerns upon arriving was getting my residency permit taken care of.  There isn’t any visa requred to entry, but if you intend to stay longer than 3 months you need to get a residency permit.  We saw some horror stories on the internet, but did quite a bit of preparing and hoped we would be OK.  We filled out all of the forms and gathered all of the documents for a Residency Permit for the Purpose of Scientific Research, which seemed to fit perfectly my situation.  Turns out that I was wrong.  We arrived at the office yesterday, and were immediately informed by the officer there that we had the wrong form.  We were required to file and application for my residency based on the fact that my wife, Dora, is a Hungarian citizen.  Essentially, they now have me filing for what seems to be roughly the equivalent of a green card.  This required a different form and somewhat different documents, which we were able to fill out on the spot in the office waiting room (with the help of some complete strangers that Dora managed to round up as witnesses).  So everything seems to be OK at this point, though we won’t know for sure for 3 months, and they said they may call us in at some point for interviews (apparantly to make sure that our 10+ year, 3 kid marriage wasn’t a scam on my part to gain 1 year temporary residence in Hungary).

We have arrived!

Well, we’ve arrived safely in Budapest.  The trip itself was mostly uneventful.  We’ll spend the next few days getting acclimated to our new surroundings and time zone.  Matthew seems the most jet-legged at this point (I type this at just past midnight in Budapest and Matthew plays blocks in the small kitchen).  Ironically (or perhaps not),  he slept the best on the trip; I think perhaps having an awful trip, getting exhausted, and then starting from scratch might be the best way to adapt.  Ultimately, it seems like no matter what we try, we always descend into a pattern of just sleeping and eating whenever I want upon arrival.  Our plan for the next week is to get everything set up in the apartment  (more posts on that will come in due time) and take care of lots of paper work – getting the kids school enrollment finalized and getting me a residency permit, which can sometimes be an adventure!

Among my initial observations upon arriving:

Things seem mostly the same (I was here last summer), but small things change.  For instance, the interior of the apartment building has been updated.  The old gloomy walls have been refreshed with a coat of white paint and the small elevator has new (digital!) electronics and a new door.  Gone is the rickety wooden door that you needed to slide shut yourself before ascending or descending – I’m going to miss that old elevator.

Here you see Panka modeling the new panel.  The way they refer to floors is different in Hungary and worth mentioning.  The F stands for “földszint”, which translates to ground floor but is not the 1st floor.  The next floor up, Fe, is the “felemelet”, or half floor.  Finally, above this you reach the 1st floor, though this would be the 3rd floor by American conventions.

The bread and kolbasz (sausage) are still amazing. I’ll have a full post on breakfast at some point on our trip.

I’m still getting used to the different keyboards here.  We  brought our own laptops, but also use the laptop in my in-laws appartment (like I am right now).  The Hungarian alphabet has several additional characters, like á, é, í, ó, ö, ő, ú, ü, and ű.  These take up the space to the right of the letters, but before the -enter- key, so I seem to miss the enter a lot.  Also, the y and z keys are reversed.  You’d be surprised how often you use these keys when you type.