This morning we’re going to drive a hour to visit the Tata castle. The boys love castles! Tata castle
This is a picture of Nathan’s left shoe. How could a child have done this to a shoe? Actually, his right one is the same. Any guesses?
Oh, by the way, we bought these shoes about five weeks ago.
Laura’s parents and sister are coming to visit us in 17 days. They will be here for 11 nights, and we’re incredibly excited. We have lots of fun plans for the itinerary. Below, I’ve listed a few general things we’re planning to do with them. Do you have any other specific ideas? Any good tips?
- Buda Hill / Castle District
- Balaton (Klub Tihány)
- Normafa / Janos Hegy
- Thermal Baths
Well, I have to admit, the parliamentary government and election system is a little confusing to me, and Hungary’s system, in particular, seems a bit complex. Here’s my messy summary of how Hungary’s election process works:
There are 386 seats in the Hungarian Parliament, and 176 (something like 46%) of these are determined through elections of candidates within every district.
After these 176 seats are determined, the remaining 210 seats are given out according to “party lists.” 152 of these seats are distributed to to the 20 territories (19 counties plus Budapest). The last 58 seats are given according to national party lists. These are distributed according to the sum of all votes for the candidates of each party.
On April 9th, the first round of voting took place, and two votes were cast. The first vote was for a candidate in their locality. The second vote is for their prefered candidate/party (which goes toward a territorial party list = a list for each party reflecting the number of votes within a certain territory). After this first round of voting, the 210 “party list” seats are declared.
On April 23rd, the second round of voting will take place. During this round, citizens vote between the two strongest candidates for Prime Minister.
Yesterday, the first round of parliamentary elections began. This election poses a close race between MSZP (Ferenc Gyurcsany, 44, left, Socialists currently in power) and FIDESZ (Viktor Orban, 42, center-right, “Young Democrats” formerly in power).
This is the fifth general election since the return to democracy in 1990, and both major parties have some big ideas for Hungary.
As you may know, Laura went to Bratislava, Slovakia Thursday morning, and I’ve been hanging out with my three boys (tha fellas). Laura really deserves a getaway, and I’m so glad she could go and have a fun time with Debbie and some other friends. The boys are really looking forward to her return on Sunday night…so we can have birthday cake. Today’s Laura’s birthday, and we called her to sing an amazing “version” of “Happy Birthday.”
We went hiking today near János hégy. I think the area is called Normafa. Wow, it is great up there. We hiked (walked through the woods) for three hours. The boys could spend all day in the forest. Bugs, sticks, wild flowers, dirt, fallen trees. What else is there?
A couple hours into our hike, we found some benches. We stopped and had a peanut butter picnic (peanut butter and jelly sandwich, peanut butter on bannana, peanut butter on apple, peanut butter on everyone’s fingers, peanut butter on everyone’s faces). Seth ate three sandwiches. What in the world!
Well, it isn’t the same without mom around. Just 19 more hours!
Today, a momumental thing happened. I visited my first Hungarian/Turkish bath. It was incredible. My friend, Boda György took me to the Rudas Turkish Bath and gave me the full tutorial. I think I’m hooked. From what I understand, Hungary has the highest concentration of thermal springs in the world. Budapest is called the city of baths and possesses 123 different hot springs. Over the last two thousand years, the Celts, Romans, Turks, and Magyars have all been bathing in these healing waters.
The Rudas Bath is one of the few remaining bath structures from the Turkish occupation. In 1566, the Turks built an octogonal pool, and since then, four other seperate thermal springs supply waters to four seperate baths within the same building.
First, György took me into the dry sauna (75 degrees Celcius! = 167 degrees Fahrenheit!) for 15 minutes. Oh my goodness. By minute number 4 I was sweating pretty good. By minute number 8 I was drenched. By minute number 12 the sweat was literally pouring out of me.
After 15 minutes in the dry sauna, György made me jump into a freezing cold bath. Until this point, I thought he was my friend. Once submerged I could not breathe. The goal was to stay there for one minute. When I stepped out, I could barely walk because the blood had quickly left my legs to support other vital parts of my body.
We sat in a comfortable 28 degree pool and talked for a while. These waters have such an interesting smell. These particular waters are composed of calcium-magnesium-hydrogen-carbonate also containing sodium and sulphate and a significant amount of flouride ions. One of the baths is said to be radio-active. Not completely sure what that means, but it’s supposed to be good for stomach illness.
After this, we went into the wet sauna (50-60 degrees Celcius! = 122-140 degrees F.) and it felt twice as hot as the dry sauna. After 10 minutes of that, we dove in the ice water again and sat in two more healing pools, including the radio-active one. One more time to the wet sauna and then into the big octogonal pool. We dried off and cooled down in the “lounge chair” room for a while.
I felt like I had just run a marathon. Your whole body feels a bit like jelly. Needless to say, it was awesome: a 500 year old building, saunas, icy water, thermal water, and good conversation. If anyone is planning to come visit us in Budapest, they should be prepared! Thanks György!