Doldrums

Today, Monday, was a holiday.  I hadn’t a clue because, unlike San Miguel, there were no cannons, no fireworks to mark the day.  It is Whit Monday, which follows Whitsunday, the Pentecost, the day on which the Holy Ghost descended on Christ’s disciples. This being a Christian country (as defined by its constitution), today was a national holiday.

It was also a cold and blustery day, especially along the banks of the Danube which is where my latest short-term rental is located.  The day was much colder than I had anticipated for May in Hungary.

On Saturday I moved from one short-term rental to another.  The new rental was timed to coincide with what I thought would be the [newest new] day I’d be leaving Budapest for the U.S. I couldn’t stay in the previous apartment because it had been previously booked for this weekend. The two apartments are like a tale of two cities.

Downtown

img_4111compThe ground-floor apartment had no windows except a skylight, so it it was dark unless the recessed artificial lighting – which was actually quite nice – was on. Set in the back of the courtyard and away from the street, it was extremely quite.  The only time I saw the sun was when it overhead, as it had to get high enough in the sky to clear the quad and sit above the skylight.

Because light came in only vertically, and there was a fair amount of rain this week, like Las Vegas, it was hard to tell what time it was and what the weather might have been like. The concrete strip in the center of the courtyard was mold green from decades of moisture and it smelled like old concrete, old dampness and spot where construction was taking place (behind the arch at the bottom of the photograph) smelled like decades of cigarettes, just as do some people behind whom I stand in the grocery checkout line. One surprise, though, has been that cigarette smoke hasn’t been an issue, although so many people do smoke:  young men on the move, women taking a break, bored, alone, outside the shop where they work.

I spent most of the week online searching for apartments (here and there) and trying to set appointments.  When that frustrated me, I looked to booking an airline ticket back to the U.S.  One appointment was moved to this coming Wednesday (an apartment on the Buda side, looking back to the Parliament building); then I was able to set an appointment for an apartment that’s less money, but available for a shorter time (only until late August), which is actually ideal.

Faux College Avenue

img_4145compSaturday was rain, heavy at times, scattered through the day, and the next apartment was only a 15-minute walk from the previous apartment. Luckily I waited out the early morning heavy rain and had a dry walk to the apartment, even finding 12,000 forint on the street.  The apartment is just off Pozinesky Avenue, which has lovely shops, cafes, restaurants, a French cheese shop (that even sells Marmite), and some wonderful dessert places.

I had sent the owner an email the night before saying I’d arrive a little after noon. He didn’t answer the email and when I arrived at the apartment I saw no “apartment 1a” listed, only an apartment 1, so I rang that.  Nope that wasn’t it and I couldn’t hear whatever the person was saying through the speaker.

img_4151compSo I went to cafe where I’d been several times when I stayed at the hotel, and asked if they might call owner, which they were kind enough to do.  He wasn’t in the country and would have to call a colleague and we made arrangements for me to be let in at 3 p.m.

The owner’s website promised information about the neighborhood (cafes, restaurants, groceries, etc.) as well as the workings of the apartment.

The woman who met me spoke only Hungarian, was kind and pleasant and helpful and I did quite a bit of head nodding and saying “igen” (yes) and “ertek” (I understand) when truly only her demonstrations of (of the elevator doors, the keys, the location of the coffee) worked for me.
img_4116comp
The apartment has a “platform” so it’s similar to others I’ve I’ve read about, so it’s a trial run of sorts.

There were some things (the washing machine) for which I had to resort to the internet for help.  Sometimes it truly is amazing what can be found.  While I couldn’t find the instruction manual on the manufacturer’s website, there is a website [manualslib.com] dedicated to instruction manuals for just about any machine (even my iPod mini).

img_4132comp

I’d read the travails of those who do laundry in their Budapest apartments – small load capacity, lengthy machine cycles, no dryer [thus drying racks], hard water, and humid air so lengthy drying times [it took more than 36 hours for my white cotton socks to dry].

But it was done – two loads over two days.

Juggling

Tomorrow I have an appointment to see an apartment – I’m down to two final options, one of which is outside my price range. For all practical purposes, if the apartment I’ll see on Tuesday is a no-go, then I have to return to the States.  I can’t keep pouring money into short-term rentals – the problem with extending the short-term rentals is two-fold: it eats into my housing budget and it makes it darn-near impossible to book a flight a reasonable cost.

If the apartment is to my liking and if I’m to the agent’s liking, that opens the whole box of anxiety about renting in another country.  And do I truly want to do this?  Do I want to pursue the resident permit?

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