And, I haven't said a thing about my trip to Budapest with my old flat-mate, Sarah over Easter weekend (got bless the UK for making Good Friday & Easter Monday proper holidays that most companies are compelled to give...).
Lastly, there a few general life things, both Simon/new flat related and some more of the 'you crazy Brits' photos that I wanted to post...
Where to begin?..internet access. such a simple thing that I take for granted has become a pain/effort all unto it's own. Apparently, the owner of our flat didn't install phonelines when he lived here, so if we wish to get a landline/internet access via a 'traditional route', it will cost us 122 pounds to get things installed. and, if we're lucky, we'll have internet access in 6 weeks time. mind you, we've already been here for 4 weeks. yeesh. apparently, to get everything all set up, you have to first get the lines 'installed', then wait two weeks to get the phone actually up and running, then wait another two weeks before you can try to include internet access. good grief. neither of us have the patience to wait that long-or think we should have to pay to install. so...we've gone to plan B, and my fingers are crossed that it works-Mobile Broadband!
O2 (one of the UK Mobile companies) offers a pay as you go plan for 20 quid a month. internet? check. Phone capability? maybe check. I'm going to try out Skype this weekend with Sarah's Skype headset, and if i can easily make a call to Dad...check. No BT (British Telecom-the company we'd have to have the line installed with..). No Landline. And, considerably cheaper than a BT plan altogether! Fingers crossed Skype works...
What else? Oh, Budapest....What an AWESOME place. The weather for the four-day weekend was unseasonably warm. Meaning, tshirts and capris for four days. Yea! People were *amazingly* friendly. The food was much, much better than what I was anticipating (gulash isn't something I feel compelled to eat...), and Budapest as a city is just beautiful. The Buda side (to the East of the Danube) is hilly. Pest (the West side of the Danube) is flat. Each side has a different vibe, even thought it's part of the same city. And generally, it was not only *much* cheaper than London, but it was really even reasonably priced/cheap by 'American Standards.'
Aside from simply walking around, my favorite thing in Budapest is the Jewish Synagogue. Outside of the synagogue in NYC, it's the largest in the world (it can hold 3,000 people), and was absolutely beautiful. I'll post photos in a moment of the inside-and a few other things-but they simply won't do justice...Budapest is a great city for a weekend break-there's enough to hold your interest for a few days without feeling like you're not going to get to see it all, but there's not so much to do that you feel compelled to spend a week there. Probably one of my most favorite cities in Europe now. Yea Budapest!
I should jot down a few extra details of the trip for my own memory...We arrived super-late Thursday evening, and really all we did was get to the hotel & go to sleep. Friday and a good chunk of Saturday were just walking around days. Friday, we probably walked 8 miles! All on one side of Pest. Crossed a bridge to Margit Island-an 'island' on the Danube-and walked all around there. Then we continued on over to the Buda side, and walked around even more. By the evening, I was pooped!
Saturday was a bit more of the same. We went to the local Saturday market (think Borough or Pike Place), and puttered around there. Bought some souvenirs, walked around town some more, walked up to the top of the 'mountain' on the Buda side to the Castle, took an evening boat cruise on the Danube (all of the really beautiful bulidng...Castle, Parliment, etc...are all lit up at night. beautiful), and called it a night.
Sunday was more puttering. The first part of the morning was spent at the Jewish Synagogue-tour of the synagogue, museum, and holocaust memorial. Then, more puttering.
Monday was our last day-and our flight was at 6p. We spent the bulk of our day at Gellert. It's a swanky hotel on the Buda side, but it's also renowned for their Turkish spa. Wowsers. The size and features were really impressive. The 'logistics' of getting in, getting a locker, and getting sorted, were horrible. The place is so disorganized, I have no words. It could have been the perfect, stress-free experience, but was unfortunately very stressful to get in and get sorted. oh well. It was however, warm enough to lay outside and get a bit of sun in our bathingsuits, so I really can't complain that much!
Life in general...This is week five of the move in with Simon, and I have to say..it's going better-and is even easier than I had hoped for. Laughingly, in speaking with other friends that co-habitate, Ithink it's because we have seperate bathrooms...but, I'm not going to complain! :)
As liberal about male/female roles as I am, I absolutely love coming home from work and getting dinner ready for 'my man.' And thankfully, he likes to eat what I cook! I love to cook, so it's really win/win. Simon's dad, Jerry came down last weekend, and I think he enjoyed himself-it was nice to have a spare Bedroom/Bathroom to put a guest in without feeling like they're still 'in your space,' but with the setup of the flat, it's going to be pretty easy to host folks who want to come for a visit (hint, hint, y'all...).
OK. Short of posting a mini-novel, I should stop there. Since we have the internet sorted at the flat for the time being, I should be able to get back to more regular posts now..