The weekend of September 20 – 22, Marissa and I decided to go to Budapest. This was our first time traveling without the school so we had to figure everything out on our own. We got on the public bus outside the Kartause at 7am and rode into Scheibbs. Once we got to Scheibbs, we had to find out where the train was coming in. There were some other girls there who had traveled the weekend before so we just followed them. They told us we would get our tickets on the train, so we got on separately from them and checked with the conductor to make sure that we were on the right train. We sat down and the train left the station a few minutes later. It was really exciting! We were sitting on the train waiting for someone to come along and sell us a ticket, but no one came through on the 45 minute ride, so when we got to Pochlarn, we just got off! Then we realized that we weren’t standing at the right platform for our train that was coming in in two minutes. We could see the right platform, but it was across the tracks and we didn’t see any way to get over there. We were panicking about missing our train, so we looked both ways, jumped down on the tracks, ran across, and climbed up on the next platform. Probably totally not legal, but we didn’t see any other way…until we got over there and found out there are stairs that go underground.
In any case, we made it on the train to on time and waited once again for someone to come through and sell us a ticket. A ticket collector came through once, but I was busy looking at the itinerary I had printed out from OBB and Marissa had Nutella all over her hands from her mid-morning snack she was in the middle of, so he took one look at us and kept walking. I think he passed over us because he thought the itinerary was a ticket, but Marissa thinks he passed on because of her state of affairs.
We made it to St. Polten on time, got the tickets we had paid for over the phone (in the RA office thanks to Scott), and got on the train to Budapest. Once we were on, we realized we were in the wrong section so we had to wait for the next stop to get off and get back on. It was a hassle, but we ran and made it back on.
Once we arrived in Budapest, we waited until people had cleared out and then we got off and started looking for Csaba. I recognized him and then he saw me and came over and gave me and Marissa a hug. He was so welcoming! He drove us to the Regina Pacis Community where we were going to be staying so that we could meet the people there and get the key. The sisters greeted us with two kisses on the cheek (definitely not American!) and smiled at us because they didn’t speak English and we didn’t speak Italian, Hungarian, or Spanish.
After we put our bags down, Csaba took us to his house to meet his family and have lunch even though it was 3pm. His family was so happy and welcoming and made us feel at home even though we couldn’t really talk because they don’t speak English. His wife had made us a meal of fruit soup that had pears, cherries, and I think strawberries in it. It was super yummy. We also had sparkling water that had elderberry syrup in it. It had a distinctive taste, but it was really good. Then they served us a main dish similar to chicken pot pie that had rice, chicken, vegetables and cheese it in. It was really delicious. Then we had mashed chestnut with whipped cream for dessert. It was so nice to have a home cooked meal after about a month of Mensa and hotel food!
Csaba then took us to the Buda Palace and on the way he told us about the Buda and the Pest side of Budapest. We took some pictures at the Palace and were able to have a great view of the Pest side across the river. Then we went to the Hospital in the Cave which was a hospital during World War II that was literally in a cave. There was a lot of medical equipment and wax figures in all the different rooms. It was really interesting especially since Marissa and I are nursing students. After the tour of the hospital, he took us to dinner at a restaurant that apparently the Mission takes all their guests to. I had a ceasar salad that had a very creamy dressing.
After dinner, we went to Mass at a church that was in a cave. It was a little church that had different sections in it so that people could attend Mass, or pray on the side. The Mass was in Hungarian of course, so we got to see how well we know the English version of the Mass. When we left the church, we hiked up the hill that the church is on to this big monument that overlooks the city. It was absolutely gorgeous. The city was all lit up and there were even fireworks in the distance. We hiked back down the hill and took a shortcut down a slide that was part of a playground, but it was wet so our pants got wet.
Csaba took us back to the Regina Pacis House and we went straight to bed because we were so tired. The beds were very comfortable and so warm that I didn’t want to get up the next morning! We ate breakfast with the community at 7:30 and they serves us potatoes, eggs, and these sweet, dense corn muffins. They also had warm milk and espresso, but I only had the warm milk with sugar. Marissa was having a great time trying to communicate with them with the Spanish and little Italian she knew, but I was completely lost so I just enjoyed my milk. I realized that what
I dislike about traveling I like about living in the states is that when I don't understand someone or someone doesn't understand me, I can grab any random person and to help me communicate with someone. Here, if I can't get my point across or if I can't understand someone, there's no one else around to try to help me understand. If you don't understand someone, you just don't understand.
Around 9:00, Csaba came to pick us up so that we could visit the MSPTW Mission in Budapest. The Mission is absolutely beautiful. It is such a clean, bright environment. They have an exercise room that has ropes to climb on, a study room with a couple of computers, a big kitchen, showers, table tennis, and the office. Of course there are pictures of the mission in Peru and I recognized a lot of the kids from the pictures my siblings took in Peru. After our tour, we visited the Missionaries of Charity who were a few blocks away and a sister gave us a tour. We were able to venerate a relic of Mother Teresa which was very special. We also saw their classrooms where they use the Good Shepherd method. It was really interesting!
We went back to the MSPTW Mission so that we could meet the superior and have lunch. We had a great conversation about home schooling and Catholic colleges, and he asked us if we would be willing to do an interview which of course we agreed to! We had a lunch of rice and beef stew, and at the end, some of the boys came in. We ended up playing a round of table tennis with them which was really fun!
Csaba then dropped Marissa and I off on the island in the Danube river between the Buda and Pest sides so that he could go back and work at the mission. We walked on the island for 4 hours, did a photo shoot at these ancient ruins, saw a wedding party, ate blackberry and cappuccino ice cream, and people watched. It was a lot of fun. Csaba came back to pick us up and asked us if we were still willing to do a radio interview that his superior had set up for us.
We drove around and finally were able to find a parking place near where the interview was going to be. This interviewer asked us a question which Csaba interpreted for us and then interpreted our answer back to her. It was a great experience. She asked us how we had learned about home schooling, what our experience with home schooling was and asked us to discuss the college we were currently going to. Of course she asked us the typical questions about having friends (or no friends as the assumption goes) and being sheltered. I think Csaba said they’re going to use it for publicity and at their conference.
After the interview, we went back to Csaba’s house where his wife had made dinner for us of chicken thighs, mashed potatoes, and a salad of lettuce, corn, carrots, and tomatoes. His little girls were so entertaining during dinner and it was so nice to be eating dinner with a family again. After dinner I was able to call home and talk to some of the kids and mom. While Marissa was talking to her mom, Csaba’s little girls brought out their memory game so I played with them. I leaned that Banana is pronounced Banan in Hungarian. Super funny, right? After the game, which everyone got involved in, they turned off the lights for prayer time. They had a little candle light lit on their family altar and Csaba played his guitar and sang “My All in All”. We prayed the divine mercy chaplet partly in Hungarian and partly in English, and then they sang the Salve Regina. It was very beautiful.
Marissa wanted to go shopping, so Csaba took us to the store so we could look at clothes. It was fun to try on Hungarian styles of clothes but what really stuck out to me was how narrow their clothes were but how high the numbers for sizes were. I ended up buying a purple shirt and a purse with a zipper on it to use for traveling. We went back to Regina Pacis and I was fast asleep within thirty minutes.
The next morning we had the same breakfast, as the day before but we got to meet the three girls of the family who lives there. They were so sweet! Marissa was trying to speak in Italian and Spanish to them, but I was completely lost again! It was really precious to watch the nun playing with the girls because that just isn’t something you see in America.
Csaba and his family came to pick us up at 10:15 to take us to the Budapest-Keleti train station. While he parked the car, his wife helped us exchange our money back into Euros and find our train. We said good bye and got on the train. We waved good bye to them and then they left.
On our train from Wien Westbahnhof to Pochlarn, we were waiting to get a ticket and the ticket collector came around and asked us where we got one, where we were getting off, and charged us 65 Euro. As it turns out, that wasn’t a ticket…that was a fine because we didn’t have a ticket. It was alright because we probably would have spent somewhere near that anyways if we had bought tickets for the trains…which we have yet to figure out where to get them. On the last train from Pochlarn to Schiebbs, we met up with a group of about twenty other Franciscan students, and once we got to Schiebbs, we got on the bus back to Gaming with them and heard all about their adventures.
Traveling to Budapest was definitely a learning experience. It was so nice to have Csaba there to show us around and make sure we had some delicious, healthy food. It was such a privilege to be able to visit the Mission and the Missionaries of Charity and be able to share our experience of home schooling with the community in Budapest. It was totally worth every minute and I can’t imagine any other way I would have liked to have spent that weekend.