Saturday, 10 December 2011

The land of Far, Far Away

Hey everyone!

Wow, it’s been almost 2 months since I moved here and I still haven’t done a blog post about it. Sorry!
                I’m now finally feeling like I’m settling into the routine here, so let me fill you in on the journey so far.
                I guess it started back in March when Peti and I decided that I would move to Hungary, but it feels like it started fast-forwarding in the beginning of September. As you probably know, I was in Hungary on holiday then and had 4 job interviews lined up in 2 days. I was very lucky (and flattered), and all 4 companies said they wanted me. The first company that interviewed me actually offered me a job the same afternoon, which was a huge compliment. It felt really scary to say no – I’ve never turned down a job before – but for various reasons I didn’t think the job was right for me. 
Peti and me on Margit island, after the interviews on the first day

The second interview I did was with the company I ultimately accepted. I received the offer from them at the end of that week, telling me that they wanted to start on the 17 October, so suddenly I had a veeeery short deadline to arrange too many things.
                Let me take this opportunity to say (again!) how incredibly grateful I am to everyone who helped me. My mum was a real trooper, helping me pack, arrange a lot of things, driving with me to Hungary and getting a new boiler for my flat when the boiler I had failed the safety test (the day before I left the country, no less!). Also my dad and the wonderful Anne-Grethe for helping with the moving costs… if they all hadn’t helped me I really don’t think I could have afforded to move. And also the moral support means so much to me. I was so stressed before I left (and for a while after) that it was a real life-line! I also want to thank Peti for arranging a flat for me, and a LOT of other things – if people say Hungary is bureaucratical, please BELIEVE them! I feel like I’ve been working him hard these last three months!
                As soon as I accepted the job offer I told my boss. She was surprised at how quickly it had gone (as was i!) but she was incredibly kind and supportive, and gave me a lot of encouragement.  I will always remember my time at CA fondly, and all the friends I made there. We agreed that my last day there would be the 7 October, giving me 10 days between the jobs.
                From the moment I accepted the job I spent almost every waking moment packing, throwing away, packing, giving away and packing some more. I remember calling my mum the day before we were going to drive to Hungary. It was around 6pm or so, and I was not even close to finished. My mum came over, and we worked like mad till about 9pm I think. At the end we basically told my neighbours that anything we left out on the parking lot was considered fair game if any of them wanted something. Miraculously, things started developing feet and walking away as soon as we put them there J.
                When we had crammed everything we could into my mum’s car and mine, we drove to the Chinese takeaway for dinner and then home to my mum’s. I was staying there that night. We ate, then shoved the last few things in my car that we could fit there (and it was very much like a 3d game of Tetris) and then I had a hothothot bath. It was SO necessary. I went to bed around midnight, and the cliché about being asleep before the head hits the pillow is quite descriptive I think. The next morning we got up at 4am, had breakfast and drove to Dover for the ferry.
Ludvik AKA Fluffmonster J - he doesn’t need much space!
                We decided that the easiest way to transport the fluffmonster was to put a cat lead on him and tie the lead to one of the seats. Then he could find some space to relax and it would take a lot less space than a cat carrier. It seemed to work well, he found various cubic millimetres to squeeze into and went to sleep quite happily.
                I had bought a roof-rack for my car, one of those universal ones. The thing we didn’t realise was that there were holes underneath to slide the fixings in or out for different size vehicles. These holes made SUCH an interesting sound when we were driving even slowly… like a whistling, fluting sound, and it got very loud on the motorway. Ludvik was really not happy about this either, he was registering his protests vehemently. Luckily, tape was our friend. We stopped by a petrol station and bought some and taped up the holes THOROUGHLY, and, much relieved, drove on.
I had booked a ferry for 10:15 on the morning of the 11th October but since we left home at around 5am there was no traffic at all, so we arrived there around 8 or so. Luckily we could then catch the 8.30 ferry instead of the one we had booked, so we were doing well on time.
When we checked in the guy said something like “I see you have paid for bringing an animal along as well.” I said yes and pointed to Ludvik, who was then lying between the two front seats. The man thought I was pointing at my mum, though and thought it was strange I was calling her an animal J.
When we finished the ferry trip the TomTom decided to play games with us… it was convinced that we’d gone wrong somewhere and wanted us to drive back onto the ferry terminal again. After some gentle persuasion, I convinced it that nope, we don’t need boats right now, we need motorways, and we continued through France.
When you’re driving really long distances it is funny how the milestones matter. The total journey was over 1900 km, with some stretches on the motorways where there was nothing to do but keep the accelerator pressed down and steer for around 300 km. Every time the satnav spoke it felt like an achievement, like a tick in the checklist on the route to getting there.
I drove till we had to fill up the tank the first time. Then I was so tired, I asked my mum to take over so I could relax a while. The first tank took us from my mum’s, through UK, a little of France and all of Belgium, and we filled up on the border between Belgium and Germany. My mum drove the second tank, which took us to a little town called Weibersbrunn, on the Hungary-side of Frankfurt.
Germany the first day went incredibly smoothly. There was no traffic to speak of, just smooth driving. I fell asleep while my mum was driving, and my mum amused herself thinking it must look scary to others, as we were driving an English car and it would look like the driver was asleep. On the Autobahn. J
When my mum was getting tired and the tank was heading towards the 1/6th tank mark, she suggested that I look for someplace to sleep. I programmed the satnav and it told us that in 500 metres there would be an exit with hotels and a petrol station. Perfect timing!
My mum filled the tank that evening while I ran to the nearest hotel and asked for prices and if they accepted cats. They did, and then I ran to the hotel on the other side and they also accepted cats but it was a bit more expensive and the food smelled better in the reception of the first hotel so we decided on that one. It was nice to move a bit after sitting still for so many hours!
In the morning we had a (SOLID) breakfast and asked if they would give us warm water for cappuccinos and teas on the way, then we continued on our journey. Veeeeery slowly. There had been a traffic jam on the autobahn so the whole motorway was closed. We were redirected through some small towns for many kilometres. It was so slow that we would turn off the engine for 20 minutes at a time, just doing nothing.
Just under 1000 km to go... and stuck in that traffic jam
It took 4 hours before we were back on the motorway and clear of the jam again… but since we had such long periods of inactivity we’d eaten lunch on the road so we pressed on. As soon as the traffic jam eased, it started raining extremely heavily. I hope I never have to drive in those conditions again. At the border to Austria we stopped to buy a motorway ticket, a refill and a change of drivers. My mum drove through Austria. I felt sorry for her, because it was still raining like crazy, and now it was getting dark too. Twilight, rain, roadworks and motorways. Not the best combination. I guess our guardian angels were working overtime though cause except for big trucks in narrow roadwork lanes making us feel small and crushable, we didn’t have any scary situations, even though we saw some people taking stupid chances in other lanes.
We finally arrived to the Hungarian border and filled up again. I took over the driving for what felt like the home stretch of the journey, even though we still had to drive across most of Hungary. Peti sent me a message suggesting we stop in Budapest if we felt too tired but we figured that it was better to continue to Kiskunfélegyháza where there would be a nice meal and a bed waiting for us.
My mum had lost her voice a couple of days before, so she could hardly talk unfortunately. The first day of the trip, towards the evening, she would just nod or shake her head to reply to my comments but she was a bit better the second day. It still made for an interesting conversation when she tried to call Peti from Kecskemét (the town before Kiskunfélegyháza) to say that we were about 30 minutes away. Finally, around 11 pm, we were at Peti’s place, very ready for a rest.
We went into Budapest the next day to sign for the flat, and unload the poor car. I got a phone call from the moving company while we were there to say that they would arrive that evening. Since I had expected 2-3 weeks originally, this came as something of a (pleasant) shock!
The next day (Friday 14th October) I went to my new workplace to sign my contract. There were 5 of us, new starters, sitting in a little meeting room and reading through the contract, initialling each page and signing where we were told. They gave us all sorts of things to fill out, in the end it took a few hours and I was starving when we finished… the contract signing started around lunchtime. After eating and unpacking some more things we drove back to Kiskunfélegyháza. On Saturday we spent some well-earned time in the thermal waters at Kiskunmajsa, till we felt slightly more human again. I swear a few hours in those baths does you the same good as 3-4 days solid rest J.

On Sunday we both went home – me to Budapest and my mum to UK. It was definitely an adventure. I’m glad I did it… but I don’t think I’ll do a drive like that again for a loooong time.
My car (now nicknamed the Duracell-Tardis – see picture for why) is now parked in Peti’s garage, having a well-earned holiday. Overall I never thought the move would go so smoothly!
This is a very long post so I’ll continue the story separately (and shortly – honest!)
In the mean time, lots of love to you all!

Eva Susanne