A few things we have noticed, as being strange or different from Canada, that we are slowly getting used to. Here are our noteworthy mentions!
1. No Clothes Dryers
I begged Alfonz, ‘please buy me a clothes dryer’ as soon as we stepped off the plane. After discussing the issue farther we agreed it wouldn’t be the best investment. They are very expensive to buy and run. Electricity is very costly! I am glad to say I have come to except this, and the chore of laundry is not as bad as I thought it would be. In Canada it is a mindless job once out of the dryer. Here, I now make sure the clothes are actually dirty, not just tried on and thrown on the floor. Everything gets worn twice, except underwear, before it makes it’s way to the hamper. I wash on cold, with little soap and a touch of liquid softener, and set the spin cycle to the highest velocity settingof 800 + which leaves the clothes practically dry. Then I hang the clothes on the drying rack, which fits exactly one load on. It is customs to iron everything off the rack but here is where I draw the line! I refuse to iron bed sheets and dish clothes!
I usually do laundry first thing in the morning and by the time we return for lunch it is dry. The clothes last much longer this way. Even in the winter, you can see clothes racks in the bathrooms of Hungarian people with clothes drying or even on balcony windows! It takes longer in the winter to dry, obviously, but they often place them close to a heater. Love it!
I love this custom! In Canada my parents taught me never go over to anyone’s home empty handed. Here everyone does it! People bring over coffee or treats for the kids when popping over to say hello. We take vodka and flowers to parties, especially where you know you will be fed until the sun goes down. I find Hungarian people extremely generous, and they go out of their way to help you.
In Canada I’ve see women in their pajamas shopping at Safeway, no makeup, sloppy and we never paid much attention to it. My favourite ‘mom uniform’ was my black Lulu-lemon sweat suit, with my hair tied back. Here, it would never happen. Even the poorest people dress up, fix their hair, put on a clean shirt, and look great, while going to the store for even the simplest quick errand!
I find women, especially in the downtown core, extremely fashionable, and dress to the nines. I have loved this! I wake up each day, fix myself up, and no matter where we end up during the day, I feel confident.
I have been driving in Canada since my 16th birthday, 21 years ago, day in and day out. I pride myself on my defensive driving skills, and Alfonz compliments me often on how I drive like he does! Excellent! But here I haven’t been driving. The narrow roads, built at the bottom of 300-year-old buildings, with people parked on each side, makes driving here hard enough. But add in speed, and one-way streets with no railings for pedestrians, it is a disaster waiting to happen. Alfonz loves driving here, says these are my people! Yes they are, but they are also as bold, and I cannot trust they will take the safe position as in Canada while I scoot by. It is like 1 million defensive drivers are on the road, just as crafty at cutting the line. Not for me!
Each and every person in Budapest buys fresh bread each day! There is a law in Budapest that prohibits the cost of a simple loaf of bread to go up, leaving buns and baguettes cheap. It makes the most sense to eat them the same day it is made. This assures the poorest Hungarian will not go hungry. Bakers’ work from 1:00am to make sure their bread is available for even the earliest riser. It is a beautiful thing! Except for the Baker, that cannot increase his prices. Huh!
You can go into any corner store and buy a cold beer, and drink it until you walk to the next corner store and buy another! You can open a bottle of wine in a city park or field or street and no one even flinches. You can drink while your kids are at the circus or fair, and happily walk home without a care. Although they have zero tolerance laws for drinking and driving, drinking and walking are perfectly fine!
Everyone still smokes in Budapest! I know it is crazy, right? At parties, in designated smoking areas in restaurants, in parks, outside of schools, in nightclubs, in bathrooms, pretty much anywhere there are people, you will find smokers. I have to say that in Canada smokers are treated as if they have leprosy, and 50 yards away from any entrances is not far enough. The few friends and family we have in Canada that still smoke are rarities smoking away from the kids line of vision. We all got the cancer memo sent out 15 years prior on the effects of cigarette smoke. We all know better after the Canadian government realized the strain smoking has on our Medical system . But Hungary didn’t get the memo at all! Even my kids comment on the wafts of cigarette smoke that floats up into our windows from the pubs below. It is so common, that Alfonz and I are among the few that don’t smoke here! I have faith that they will catch up soon!
The kid’s don’t like seeing the poor beg for money, or dig through the garbage. The beggars that come to the city, set up camp and strictly beg for money. You would think it might be easier to get a job but to each their own.
White Rock has few poverty-stricken people to this degree, and unlikely to dig through your garbage. Even the poorest in Canada has social assistance, medical, cable TV, hot water, free food and a place to sleep. Here it is a different level of poverty. They really have nothing. In Budapest, generally speaking, they don’t bother you and keep to themselves. Some are more ill than poor, or have serious drinking problems that might hinder keeping down a job. I enjoy the street musician and we often give them money. But they are few and far between. Beggars are widely frowned upon, and are assisted by the government with their own version of welfare. You get used to seeing it, and we help where we can.
Most people I have met from around the world think American’s eat huge over sized plates piled high! Might be true, but what I notice in Hungary is the people eat enormous amounts of food and don’t gain weight! I’ll go to McDonald’s with my friends and they will eat 2 full menu meals without blinking. Or at a restaurant you order a soup and it is served in a bucket! If your order comes with fries, then you get 3 times the amount you would expect in Canada. Wow! And the women still look this good!! Huh? Is that the secret to looking great, more food intake! Maybe it is the endless walking in Budapest! Either way, they are a lucky slim bunch!
At dinner parties there is enough food for an army, instead of a family or two! It makes my parties look like starvation!!
I also must mention the amount of salt we have been eating. I am getting used to it now, but at first I couldn’t stop drinking water. I made a pot of soup today and the family complained that there is no salt in it! There was the same as I always put in! Sadly we are used to over salting our food after a month living here! It is truly an addictive substance, and one that I hope to kick as soon as we are settled in France! I don’t want to have a heart attach before I even get there!! Friss your f? vers for us!
Salt acts like glass shards in your blood steam, cutting the vessels as they go and build up along the scar tissue they produce until it blocks the blood flow and you either have a piece break off and you have a heart attach or a stroke, or it completely clogs, and you have a blood clot. Either way, SALT is not our friend!!
Why do people that work all day and party all night need to have a dog, or even two? Then they let them out in the building to pee on my step! Or worse!! As a Canadian family we are used to people picking up after their dogs, well most of them anyway. But to let them crap on the sidewalks, I mean really? There is a beautiful dog part 5 minuets from here, and another 2 blocks down from that one, and then another one adjacent to the big city park we go to frequently. Hmmm? I don’t think the problem is the city’s lack of attention to dog parks; there are sufficient facilities but the owner’s refusal to scooping dog poop!!
Definitely my biggest noteworthy adjustment living in Budapest, is getting used to stepping in dog feces when I walk on the sidewalk! Although the city sweepers come each and everyday, I still manage to step in the crap!! Ugh!!
After all, it really is the owner’s fault!