Memory No. 1: Basketball took me to Hungary a few times. Their girls were always a tough team to play. I told you in a previous post that we would usually only see airports, hotels and gyms when traveling with the national team but on my first visit to Hungary (I was about 17 years old), I got to take a special trip to Budapest – a hospital in Budapest to be exact. I had to get an x-ray of my left middle-finger which looked as if I wanted to “phone home”. Except that mine had a much darker shade of purple than ET’s finger. Although I wasn’t thrilled about the reason why I got to see Budapest, I was happy to get beautiful impressions of old, majestic buildings. The hospital itself was located in such an amazing old building with the x-ray section in the basement. It looked like a museum for medical apparatuses and part of me was glad that it was just my finger that had to be taken care of. The tour of the medical museum ended with the doctor’s words (with a heavy eastern European accent) “next competition without Katja”. Great – a broken finger a week before the big tournament. Bummer. And all that drama because of our clean and friendly Hungarian hosts. They had mopped the court for us before practice and advised us to be careful – I guess I wasn’t careful enough or maybe just too clumsy but down I went and entertained my teammates with my goofy fall. Nobody had an idea how bad I hurt my finger so the guards got mad at me when I couldn’t catch their passes. They were used to me fumbling from time to time, but not EVERY time.
Memory No. 2: This one also involves fingers… The food in Hungary was hearty and homemade but sometimes a bit too homemade for our spoiled teenage selves. But just after our coach yelled at us to stop complaining (he had a bit of an anger problem), he fished a chicken foot out of the soup, got really quiet and then looked at us and said “Tomorrow I’ll order Pizza for everyone!”
Memory No. 3: Another basketball trip, this time with the women’s team and all I can remember is the heat. I didn’t know it could get that hot in a gym. I probably sweated out five gallons and every time someone came off the floor, our athletic trainer slapped a towel that had been drenched in ice water on our necks. This shows that our staff was seriously concerned about us. Although the heat was certainly hard to deal with, it gave the game a battle character that made us all feel like sweaty, invincible warriors – Fun!
My historic knowledge: … unfortunately deserves the grade F. If I regret one thing about high school it’s not paying attention in history class but only hammering facts into my brain for the exams. We definitely spent a lot of time talking about Hungary and the role it played in shaping Europe during the first half of the 20th century. I wish I remembered at least something but there’s nothing left. I’m starting to think that it takes a certain age to appreciate history. So if you would like to know some important things about Hungary and not just my basketball memories you’re going to have to wiki or google it. But let me do some of the work for you here…
- About 10 million people live in Hungary.
- Only seven countries (US, USSR, UK, France, Italy, China, and Germany) have won more Summer Olympic gold medals than Hungary.
- The official currency in Hungary is the Forint.
- Hungarian dishes are often flavored with paprika
- Four Hungarian cities have tram networks, and the four cities are Budapest, Debrecen, Miskolc and Szeged . The Budapest Metro is the second-oldest underground metro system in the world, and its iconic Line 1 (dating from 1896) was declared a World Heritage Site in 2002.
- The Rubik’s cube was invented in Hungary, by Erno Rubik – an inventor and architect.