Wednesday, August 27, 2008

After Walking All Over Szeged (and I'm not stretching that much!)

I so enjoyed my day "on the town" of Szeged. This may come as a surprise to some/lots of you, but I am at heart an introvert, and so I TREASURE my "alone time." I love time to sift, think, read, and usually write it out. I haven't had too much chance lately, between the marathon sprint (yes I mean that) to be ready for school, the travels of July & August, the house-readying, and the everyday living and serving. Szeged is a delightful town small enough to walk through in a day. It's not a complicated street pattern; concentric rings mirroring the river's turn, and straight cross-streets. Simple enough...though... the more maps I looked at, the more confused it seemed I got!

First stop was the Mars ter Open-Air Market-- a magnificent abundance of fruits and veggies, driven in that very morning from nearby farms in Hungary, Croatia, Serbia and Romania, all for pennies. I got apples, plums & peaches and so far have NOT been disappointed. I enjoyed a Hungarian "expresso dolce vita" with milk, which costs extra, in a random little coffee shop. I established my plans as I enjoyed it. My next stop would be the "New Synagogue."

It is amazing. My guidebook was wrong on the opening time, so I sat outside and read my Bible & journaled a little until the friendly litte curator limped outside and demanded "where from!?" He let me in & gave me a little tour of the magnificent building. At one point I mentioned my husband studying Greek & Hebrew because he wants to understand and teach the Bible, and his response was classic: "You have a husband!?" (imagine each "h" pronounced gutturally, a la German) Anyway, I spent a good hour just journaling and admiring the grandeur. The stained glass windows (unusual for a synagogue, as most Jews interpret the 2nd commandment to exclude ALL images) each represent a different Jewish festival-- that was fun for me to go around and figure out. Anyway, if you ever go to Szeged, GO TO THE SYNAGOGUE!

I walked around the town, scoping out the various restaurants recommended in my handy-dandy guidebook, familiarizing myself with the lay 'o the land, and trying to find potential souvenirs/gifts for people back home. I was quite proud of myself for finding and buying jhuturos, a Hungarian sheep-milk cheese that is soft and tastes a lot like Feta. YUM! The sweet owner of a Dutch cheese shop directed me to a local supermarket, and the attendants there were very patient, too. It's so weird not being able to speak the local language! I'm learning a little, but the language is SO different from all the ones I know that it's taking me longer than I'm used to! Anyway, I'm finding that writing down what I'm looking for helps... so I copied out the full "I have Celiac's disease and I am allergic to these foods" in Magyar and have been showing that around...

The Lord led me to a park along the river Tisza, where I journaled and planned for a good long while. That was so good for me. Time to be, not just do, as Ryan would say. Speaking of that boy, he's been enjoying the conference-- meeting people from all over the world is always interesting, quite potentially fun, and especially enjoyable if you have rock-star status among them! Seriously! That boy gets free drinks wherever we go!!

This town is beautiful. I haven't seen a single boring or ugly building yet. They're all so interesting architecturally, and I love the paint colors used (usually pastels with a contrasting trim). Parks are plentiful and pleasant; terraces are adorned with fun fountains; the ubiquitous statues are interesting, and traffic yields to pedestrians. The streets are small and because the buildings come right up to the streets, surprises are plentiful-- you can't see much ahead except the street itself; there's not peripheral vision. So things like the synagogue rise suddenly beside you, and you're amazed that something so huge and magnificent was always just a block away! (now how's that for a parable, huh?) The only thing I'd wish for is more openly friendly people. But maybe that's not considered polite here, what do I know?

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