When I first arrived I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get a good Internet connection here. But in fact I’ve already arranged a broadband connection that most of the time is faster than the connection I had in Cambridge or The Hague (it’s 5 Mbs and so far has only got slow on Saturday morning). When I arrived my landlady already had a USB mobile connection with T-Mobile that I was able to use. Lots of people here just use that, it seems. It costs around 25 euros per month, has a speed of about 2.5 Mbs and a 15 Gb limit per month.
Since I don’t want to be stuck with that limit, I went into the T-Mobile shop on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Street. I had to queue a long time but it was worth it. The woman on the desk spoke some English, but she changed places with a guy who spoke more. I arranged a broadband Internet connection and bought a pay-as-you-go SIM. The Internet connection costs around 4300 forint per month, which isn’t bad. They told me someone would call me on my new mobile SIM within a week. I was worried I wouldn’t understand, and indeed the woman who phoned didn’t speak English. But fortunately the Hungarian lessons that I’ve already taken stood me in good stead, and I understood enough to know that an engineer was coming “tomorrow between 12 and 2″.
But actually every communication from T-Home so far has been followed by a text that I could translate at my leisure, so I needn’t have worried!
TescoI’ve also been meeting up with someone from SharedTalk.com. Lots and lots of people contacted me on this site — lots of Hungarians really badly want to learn English. It’s great! Most of them don’t live in Budapest or don’t want to meet up, but I found someone who is in Budapest and did want to meet after we’d exchanged emails for a while, so now I have a very helpful and nice new friend …. Among other things she showed me the free bus to Tesco. I’m amazed that Tesco (“the supermarket that’s eating Britain”) is here, and selling nearly the exact same products that it does in Britain, including a book on “Vilmos and Kate” (William and Kate, the English royal couple).
Actually there are lots of Tescos here, as well as Spar which we also have in Britain. But in Britain Spar is usually a small shop that you go to because it’s close by, while here it’s pronounced “Shpar” and is a large supermarket. I bought some tomatoes from “Shpar” that were probably the tastiest I’ve ever had.
Fruit and veg here is really good in general (apart from the stuff they sell at Tesco, unfortunately!). Of course there are also lots of markets. There’s even a place where you can take mushrooms you’ve picked in the woods and get them identified.
Another wonderful find for me was Margit (Margaret) Island. This is an island in the Danube that was constructed mostly artificially a long time ago to control the flow of the Danube. Now it’s a sort of huge garden, with old castle ruins, an enclosure with stork and deer, various athletic facilities and a rubberised running track all the way around the edge. So I’ve been running around this beautiful island — or halfway around anyway, which is all I can manage after two years of sitting at a desk!
In fact I’m going for a run shortly, maybe after another coffee.
I’ve decided to give myself maybe a month to settle in and relax, then I’m going to start looking for ways to make cash. I still have a few hurdles to get over, including getting a residence permit (which I managed to skip in both Italy and Holland, although doing so makes me a little uneasy so I’d like to get one here if possible) and buying a computer printer.
Meanwhile I’ve been composing a page for one of my other websites advertising computer programming lessons and working on learning Flash programming so that I can develop a language-learning game that runs on a web page.
Anyway, I see there is beautiful sunshine out there so enough blogging for today. Today my plan is to go for a run, learn some Hungarian and then tonight I’m playing table tennis with some Hungarians. If I had stayed in Holland, right now I would already be sitting at my desk in a stuffy office, watching my colleague opposite me frowning at some complicated network problem and hoping that the post-lunch sleepiness doesn’t hit me too hard today. I’m really determined to find a way to stay here if possible, without having any further association with offices!