Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Visit to Tata

Today was apartment inspection day. The apartments furthest away from Sopron were in Tatabanya, on the outskirts of Budapest and about a three hour drive from our home. On the way back we stopped at the quaint tourist town Tata, built around a popular fishing lake. Here you can see the reflection of their famous castle. The original with four towers was built some 600 years ago but was destroyed when the Turks invaded the area. What you see here is the one tower and the knights hall that were rebuild a bit more than 200 years ago.

It now sits in a beautiful park with paths stretching around the lake that were filled with joggers, strollers, and bikers even on this cold January day that was threatening snow. There were statues everywhere for people to enjoy. Mom especially liked this one of a woman named Diana. It's the only statue we've found of a woman on a horse.

This bugler is mourning for the citizens of Tata who were killed in the First World War. As we mentioned in an earlier blog, the Hungarians feel that they were the unjustified victims in this war that reduced their country to a fraction of its size.

Here's an artistic shot of John the Baptist getting ready to climb into the lake. The water looks like it has a bit of ice on it, so he probably should put on a few more clothes.

Does it look like I'm getting good vibes from our walk-about or am I just playing a game of patty-cake?

Mom says I'm going to break a leg trying to get into the right position to take a photo.

But I thought this picture of a mill wheel was worth the risk.

Here are some more water wheels at an abandoned mill. The mill is for sale. It might make an interesting inn or restaurant for the tourists. There are quaint hotels and restaurants everywhere in this tourist district so business should be good in the summertime.

I'll just sit here for awhile in the park and think about the possibilities.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Feeding Rozsi neni and Gizi neni

We've showed you the "spiritual ping pong" approach to doing missionary work. How about "spiritual banana pudding"? For the first course Rozsi neni and Gizi neni are enjoying roasted potatoes, carrots, and roasted chicken with Caroly. Gizi neni is the member missionary helping us to fellowship Rozsi neni. She'll be baptized soon. Both are in their late 80's. You put "neni" (auntie) after the name of old women as a term of endearment--they insist on it.

Do we look spiritual with our delicious Florida "dinner on the grounds" style banana pudding? Even Bambi had to join us in the picture. Rozsi neni brings him to church since she doesn't want to leave him at home that long. Gizi neni didn't bring her Waldi. A neighbor took care of him.

Sárvár--Nádasdy Castle

For this cultural excursion we traveled about one hour towards Lake Balaton to Sárvár to see the castle. This is the bridge over what used to be the moat.

It was getting close to closing time, but I kept the gate open so we could get in.

This was the castle of a Protestant count. Here the Protestant presses produced the first books in Hungarian in the early 1600's.

The knight's hall has paintings on the ceilings depicting various battles with the Turks as they invaded and occupied Hungary in the 1500's and 1600's. Count Nádasdy, the owner of this castle was one of the heroes who slowed their advance.

On the walls are pictures of Old Testament stories. This one is of Abraham sacrificing his son.

The other rooms have paintings on the walls too. Even the picture frames are just part of the paintings.

The wall paneling under this painting is not wood at all. It's just part of the painting

The porcelain dishes were interesting too. Some of the plates told a story when you laid them out. Perhaps you can see how these tell of hunting a deer--from trapping it to killing it.

This silver cream pitcher reminds me of the horse and the alligator pitchers that Chrissy and Debbie made in their ceramics class.

Perhaps the most famous or infamous former inhabitant of this castle was the "Blood Countess" Erzsébet Báthory, sometimes known as Countess Dracula. When her husband was away fighting Turks, she thought she discovered that when she bathed herself with the blood of young maidens, it kept her skin young. After her husband died, she had a team of procurers keep her supplied with virgins so she could drain their blood and shower and bathe in it. After more than 650 maidens disappeared in the surrounding countryside over the next six years, people got suspicious. A relative investigated, and discovered what was happening. After her trial, her accomplices were executed, but to "protect the family name" she was cemented into a dungeon with just an opening to give her food until she died four years later. They hid the record of her trial (again to protect the family name) so the full story didn't come out until more than a hundred years later.

Another public library for Kim

We're always on the look out for public libraries to help Kim with her international library research. In a corner of the castle in Sárvár is this beautiful staircase that leads up to a public library for the city.

Upstairs looks like a library with adult, children and media sections. Mom liked this display of stick puppets in the hallway to the children's library.

Erika and Ramona olé

Every week we have another family from the branch over to eat. We can't compete with Hungarian cooks, so we serve Mexican, Filipino, Dutch, or other food that might be new to them. Here we have our landlady Erika and her daughter Ramona visiting from England over for Mexican food. As you can tell by the enthusiastic digging in, the avocado, bean, tomato and sourcream dip was a hit. The squash soup was great too.

Of course, I liked the tacos made with homemade tortillas the best.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Boldog új évet--Happy New Year

In Sopron, they start setting off New Year's fireworks as soon as it gets dark at 4:30. I think it's because they are early to bed people and want to get it over with. We went to the main square about midnight for the official celebration. This band (Ocho Macho --how's that for a Hungarian name?) was entertaining everyone when we got there. The crowd wasn't very big, just half the square filled with all ages from young babies to old grandmas and grandpas. I think everyone else in town had gone to bed.

At midnight, they sang the national anthem and then the fireworks started. They set them off next to the plaza so they were right over our head. I almost had to do a back bend to get the first set of pictures. If you listen, you can hear the mayor of Sopron shouting "boldog új évet" (bulldog ooey evet) or Happy New Year Sopron.