Jan
30
2009
5

Locked Out

Some days just have more crap in them. I mean this both literally and figuratively, especially living in Budapest. There are stinky little (or not so little) reminders of the presence of dogs ALL over the sidewalks here. I still have yet to figure out why this is. It’s not like Budapest is the only city with dogs. But every city has a collective personality and I think Budapest’s personality is like those people you meet who don’t seem to realize that their actions have consequences for the people around them. Very stinky, gross consequences.

But as for the figurative use of the word ‘crap’ to describe my day. It started out as a pleasant one. For a variety of reasons, I didn’t have to go to work today, which meant that I slept in, took my time showering, primping, etc. I decided to take out the trash, which is a bit of a chore because we live in an apartment with a separate entrance from the rest of the building. So, when I’m alone, I have to lock the door outside, get into the main building, drop off the trash and unlock our door again from the outside.

I grabbed my shoes and went out. When I came back to unlock our door, IT WOULDN’T OPEN. There’s this weird sliding bolt thing on our door and it’s been acting funny since we moved in, but we had always been able to get in before. This time, the sliding bolt would not slide. And I was outside without a coat, a phone, or any money. In a foreign country. At least I had my shoes.

I just stood there for what seemed like 20 minutes, but probably was more like 5. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I didn’t know the apartment management company’s number or anyone’s number for that matter. And Chris is in Berlin, so I couldn’t even walk over to his work and see if he could open the door. As I stared at the door trying to demand it to open with the power of my mind, I noticed an ad taped to it stating that there was an apartment for rent in the building. It had the number of the real estate agent on it. Ah ha! I could call the agent and see if they had the number to the management company! I ripped the ad from the door and started walking…somewhere. I figured I would have to walk all the way to my office to get to a phone, but I passed by a travel agency. Maybe someone there spoke English…

Sure enough, someone did, and after a few phone calls and lots of me saying (okay, probably shouting like a stupid foreigner) “I LOCKED OUT. NO, I HAVE KEYS. DOOR NOT WORKING. NO, YOU CAN’T CALL ME BACK. NO PHONE. NO COAT. PLEASE COME NOW. NO, I SAID I HAVE KEYS. KEYS NOT THE PROBLEM. DOOR NOT OPENING” I finally got someone to say they would come see. In an hour. So, I had time to kill and nowhere to go. I couldn’t even go and sit in a coffee shop because I had no money. I felt like a homeless person. To keep warm I would go into a store and walk around until the owner would start to look at me funny, no doubt wondering why this woman was walking around without a coat in January and not buying anything. So I would move on. One more hour of that, and I probably would have started digging through the trash to find cans to recycle.

But, finally the guy came, and after lots of gesturing he determined that I was not a stupid foreigner who didn’t know how to unlock a door. At one point we thought maybe we were going to have to break through one of the windows. I bet you’d like to have seen us gesturing about how we would do that in our respective languages. Funny times, let me tell you. Then, through sheer brute force, the guy managed to bust through the door. I was really hoping it would look like it does in the movies, where all it takes is one swift kick and the door pops wide open. But, alas, it was a lot less exciting. It was full body weight into the door more than a dozen times. Not exactly cinema-worthy.

But, I was in! The guy fiddled with the lock for awhile and, shockingly, determined that it was not working and needed to be fixed. And then he said, or at least this is what I surmise that he said, “In the meantime, I would suggest not using this bolt.” Sound advice, my friend, sound advice.

Written by Laura in: Slide Shows | 5 Comments »
Jan
27
2009
4

Home Sweet Home

A little over two weeks ago, Chris and I began looking for apartments here in Budapest. We had been living “temporarily” in the apartment owned by Chris’ workplace for the last three months and it was time to move. We needed a place we could call our own. Or at least call ourselves leasers. With the help and guidance of a number of friends, we found a great place that is still within walking distance of both our workplaces plus a short walk to the gym we just joined. The place is bright and cheery and we really like it. Strangely enough, it is far more “clean and new” than we usually like, but it’s kind of nice to have a clean slate to work with. It came furnished and we only had to buy a few things to brighten up the place.

Mood lighting courtesy of Ikea.

Mood lighting courtesy of Ikea.

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Written by Laura in: Slide Shows | 4 Comments »
Jan
24
2009
3

The Last Thing We Did on Our Christmas Vacation

While I have not posted in a few weeks, it was not because I didn’t want to. I really really did. However, I have been living in a wireless wasteland for the past several weeks, hence the lack of contact. And, while my current living quarters are still a wireless wasteland, everything else is magical. We just moved into our very own apartment here in Budapest, and it feels great. It makes everything feel much more real. I will be posting photos of the new place very soon, but until then, I MUST finish this Christmas Vacation recap if it kills me. And the end of this particular vacation almost DID kill me, as you will soon see….

Once we left beautiful Switzerland, we drove back to Munich on New Year's Eve. Once we got settled into our hotel, we headed out to one of the most famous brewhouses in Munich (and maybe...THE WORLD...).

Once we left beautiful Switzerland, we drove back to Munich on New Year's Eve. Once we got settled into our hotel, we headed out to one of the most famous brewhouses in Munich. However, it seemed that everyone else in Munich had come up with the same dinner plans for the evening and we had to wait in line for 1.5 hours just to get in. Considering that impatience runs in my family, we were all pretty upbeat, despite the frigid temperatures and the frostbite on our toes.

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Written by Laura in: Slide Shows,Vacations | 3 Comments »
Jan
10
2009
2

What We Did on Our Christmas Vacation – Part III

This story of what we did over Christmas is taking me far longer to write than expected. It’s practically spring and I’m still talking about December 28. Okay, I exaggerate a bit, but seriously, we all need to move on. Unfortunately, I am stubborn as an ox and I cannot leave a job unfinished so you all are forced to read about Christmas when we are all clearly looking towards our next big holiday, Penguin Awareness Day, which, incidentally, is also Chris’ birthday.

After our tour through Austria, we drove into Switzerland, where we met up at our good friend Reg’s house. I am not exaggerating this time when I say that Reg is the Ultimate Hostess Extraordinaire. Chris and I visited her on our honeymoon nearly four years ago and she was so kind to us even though Chris was upchucking all over the house. Did y’all know that my new husband came down with the vomitous flu on our honeymoon? So very romantic…

Anyway, Reg was so generous to let Chris and me, my parents, and our good friends Jeremy and Rachel and their two babies ALL stay with her three days after Christmas. She is a saint, I tell you.

I caught Reg in mid-smile here. She has a wonderful smile and laugh. Can you tell I really like her?

I caught Reg in mid-smile here. She has a wonderful smile and laugh. Can you tell I really like her?

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Written by Laura in: Slide Shows | 2 Comments »
Jan
05
2009
0

What We Did on Our Christmas Vacation – Part Deux

Today’s post is going to be entirely dedicated to exploring Ambras Castle in Innsbruck, Austria. When you hear “castle” you may think, “Oh, a king and queen lived here!” But alas, you would be mistaken. The highest ranking person to leave here was the lowly Archduke Ferdinand II, who, incidentally, was the second son of Ferdinand I. How did that happen? My guess is that the first son popped out and everyone agreed that he looked more like a Harry than a Ferdinand. Not that I have a clue what the first son’s name was, but I want him to be called Harry.

Anyway, back to the castle. Ferdie the Second had the existing medieval castle renovated in the 16th Century by a bunch of Italians. Everyone was going Italian in those days. He had it renovated so he could hide his wife away from everybody. You see, the poor dear had no royal blood–that is. she was not his cousin–and therefore deemed an unworthy spouse. However, love triumphs over all, and when it does, you get a castle out of the deal.

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Ambras Castle. I think they kept Ferdie's "common" children hidden away in the little shed on the left.

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Written by Laura in: Slide Shows | No Comments »
Jan
03
2009
6

What We Did on Our Christmas Vacation – Part I

First of all, I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas celebrating with your family or with people who are just like family. I wish you a very happy New Year and a reason to feel hopeful for the coming year.

I took a bit of a break from writing these past few weeks, mostly because of limited access to a computer or the internet. My parents flew here to Budapest on December 21st and we have been tromping around Europe for the past two weeks. It was a fantastic trip where we met old and new friends along the way. The next few posts are going to be about our adventures.

We spent the first few days in Budapest, showing my parents the sights to be seen and enjoying a nice Christmas Day.

Christmas morning in the Baker/Bates household. Because Santa Claus

Christmas morning in the Baker/Bates household. Because Santa Claus comes on December 6 in Hungary, Baby Jesus brings the presents on Christmas morning. I am not making this up. I guess because he is so small, he can fit into tight spaces like through keyholes, under doors, and between iron bars. If you think about it, this makes way more sense than believing that an obese octogenarian somehow manages to squeeze through the chimney. Baby Jesus has size and divine intervention on his side.

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Written by Laura in: Slide Shows | 6 Comments »

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