Hello Budapest!

In Budapest their “hello” also means “goodbye”, and commonly when I leave a room or store everyone says “Hello!” It’s quite cute.

So, Hello Budapest. I am listening to Hootie & the Blowfish waiting for my laundry to dry so I can go to Amsterdam. Starting 2 loads of laundry at 7pm the night before a flight was probably a bad idea. Europe doesn’t have driers (wtf!?!!!!). Pants that need to be shrunk are also a bad idea, dammit.

At least my Nana is not here to tell me not to drape my clothes on the heaters.

NYE in Amsterdam!

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Waiting for her flat sister

Flat-Morgan is coming to visit me! A few years ago I had a visit from Flat-Cassidy in Vancouver.

The grade 2 class at their school does a project where they mail a paper version of themselves somewhere in the world to go on an adventure. She will  spend a few days with me, I will  take photos and send back souvenirs, hmm…where to take her? Bosnia or Serbia? I probably shouldn’t meet up with her until after Amsterdam.

Submitting to the holidays


While abroad I am still able to partake in some Christmas activities, for instance buying unnecessary things just for the fun of it. My family bought Skype conference calling so that they could set up 2 webcams that will simultaneously link to mine. It would be more useful if they weren’t in the same kitchen, as it ended up, my Nana was drinking a martini at 3:23pm and I was seeing double.

Defrosting in Budapest

Sculptures from a shop in Szentendre, Hungary

I travelled on tram, a metro and then a train to get to a little city outside Budapest. It was a picturesque town marked with rubble that left me in the cold for an outing that lasted almost 12 hours.

The European winter has been great, until today. I’ve been laughing at Christmas markets thinking “this is a cold October day in Vancouver with Christmas lights and festivities”.

When I arrived home tonight, my bones were like shattered ice. I looked in the full-length mirror, Amelia Earhart hat on head, scarf around neck, and I thought – I look more Eastern European than the people on the street, or at least, my stereotype of Eastern Europe.

My eyes were frosted under a thick layer of mascara, my hair surrendered to the wind, too cold to find relief in the warm house… yet my outfit came together quite nicely.

Since my arrival home, my neurons have thawed and I have remembered a funny observation I made at the gym:

Hungarians run really funny.

It took me 2 weeks before I was willing to commit that thought to my blog, but it’s really true. I am not just being judgmental.  When I am at the gym watching from the back row during workout rush-hour, I feel like I am in a parody for something. Their arms just fling. Maybe they are relieved to be out of the cold.

To be fair, there was also an Asian man who looked like he was churning butter while he ran.

I am not particularly graceful myself, but I have had the good sense to listen to some of my childhood taunts.

To admit how humbly I express this opinion, let me share something with you. I made a bad decision to buy Nike pants for the gym (because the pink and black tights looked last season), and before I reach a sweaty frenzy, I roll them up to my knees. I haven’t gotten to the best part yet, one day I wore black socks with white shoes – you have no idea how goofy that looks until you see it.

I lack grace, and usually style.

Dreaming

Tonight my flatmate, Aida and I had a nice talk over coffee. It turns out I should focus more on writing.

After a fun night out, we had a really nice dinner and headed to a coffee shop where we shared cake and chocolate cappuccinos. We realized that, hell, we live pretty good lives. What next?

I work in the mining industry, travel and am potentially going to law school – all very reasonable things with hard work and a bit of luck. I need to dig a little deeper from the dreamer in me because attainable goals won’t get me far enough.

I figured it out. I would like to write a book, sell the movie rights on it and have a role in its production.

That’s enough for now.

In an ex-communist country


I just had a lovely moment walking home from my Budapest Communist tour. I was walking down the street in my new fancy hat. My hat is leather with real fur – it makes me feel like a fancy Eastern European Amelia Earhart, it’s a great hat.

There was a Hungarian lady at a distance walking towards me then suddenly we were both hypnotized by this lit up book display, we both started walking at a 45 degree angle then bumped into each other and laughed.

The communist tour was very interesting, the guide was a sociologist and a very strong speaker who lived through part the communist era in Hungary.  Today I saw bullet holes (photo), a bomb shelter and now I am going out for drinks with my Spanish, German and Japanese friends. Hello Budapest!

Passing on the umbrella


Budapest is brilliant when it rains. It rains, and then it stops. It is the type of rain that urges you to stop in somewhere for a coffee or a glass of wine. As lovely as it is to avoid getting my feet wet, I am a little regretful to voice out loud that “when it rains in Vancouver, it can rain for a week or at the very least, the entire day.”

Stumbling on her words

OK – this is where I struggle at blogging. I wait for that literary moment where everything comes together as a hilarious and cohesive blog and if it doesn’t happen, I don’t post. Or, I write while I’m drunk, but strangely I have had the good sense not to post that as of late.

So let me share with you some random bits and pieces of Budapest.

Firstly, loving life.

I don’t have to study. I read books for fun, I live in a trendy downtown neighborhood – there is a hummus bar across the street and a restaurant with 50 cent glasses of wine.

Hungary’s national liquor, something to the tune of “bsdokjfsodjf” tastes like 3 parts moonshine and 1 part nail polish remover harvested in flower pedals.

The produce in this country is atrocious. I can only imagine what it was like in its communist era – right now it is bordering compost.

I bought a pass to a swanky gym. My new favorite thing is a good ol’ Eastern European topless sauna.

There was a Jewish walking tour I went on, I concluded it with a kosher chicken soup. I am vaguely familiar with the concept kosher meat products, but honestly, I am a little hesitant to Google it. The chicken was frighteningly unique.

I’ve got more walking tours to attend, a new hat and scarf to purchase, and even a Christmas party to attend. Speaking of which, mulled wine is a novelty that will not be making it into the 12 days of Christmas.

Preparing for Christmas

Materialism is looking really good on Santa Clause right now. Today is the Dutch Christmas holiday celebrated with Sinterklaas, pranking, and racism.

First they threaten the children that if they are bad, Sinterklaas will put them in a sac, beat them and take them to Spain.

Next they write a poem for a family member. It is expected that this poem references all the faults and any recent mistakes made by this person. Ill feelings are encouraged, not that the Dutch need prompting to speak their minds.

The children who survived Sinterklaas’s visits grow up to seek revenge on their parents – this comes in the form of presents. Wrapping wet cookies alluding to dog shit, or covering a gift with paper mache is common.

“..and the great thing is that we only believe in Sinterklaas and his 8 to 10 black men really exist until the age of 9 or so, but making shitty presents for the parents continuous for the rest of our lives.”

8 to 10 black men??!

In Holland, Sinterklaas has slaves instead of elves. He arrives in a boat each with his 8-10 “Black Pete’s”.

Considering the nation terrorizes each other for the holidays, it’s rather diplomatic that in the 1970’s they defended the Pete’s’ color as coming from chimney soot.

I am not surprised that learning the names of each of Santa’s reindeer was emphasized so strongly in our school system.

Here is to individuality, materialism and another lovely Christmas season.