May
28
2009
4

Mothers’ Day

Chris and I celebrated my first Mothers’ Day this year. It felt a little like cheating considering motherhood has been pretty easy up to this point. Besides the baby’s current obsession with punching me in the bladder, it’s been a walk in the park. So to celebrate this fact alone, we decided to take: a walk in the park.

On our way to the People's Park, as it's known here, Chris bought me a rose at one of the many flower stands that dot the city. I really do love the walkable nature of Budapest. Just stroll down the street and in one block you will walk by a flower stand, a grocery store, a Turkish gyros restaurant, a lotto kiosk, a cafe, and a 24-hour market (known as "ABC, 0-24, Non-Stop" here--as if one title weren't enough).

On our way to the People's Park, as it's known here, Chris bought me a rose at one of the many flower stands that dot the city. I really do love the walkable nature of Budapest. Just stroll down the street and in one block you will walk by a flower stand, a grocery store, a Turkish gyros restaurant, a lotto kiosk, a cafe, and a 24-hour market (known as "ABC, 0-24, Non-Stop" here--as if one title weren't enough).

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Written by Laura in: Slide Shows | 4 Comments »
May
02
2009
3

Hungarian Wine Country

Last weekend Chris and I went to Eger, Hungary for an overnight stay. Eger is a quaint little town about two hours away from Budapest by train. We had heard there were some nice sights to be seen and some nice wine to be had. Of course, Chris did all of the drinking, but the sights were definitely sights to be seen. With your sight. Which is how you see. Okay, I’m done.

They weren't kidding about the quaintness. This is the local high school. We sat at a cafe next to the this building and all the children came pouring out of the school singing songs and playing guitars. I am not kidding.

They weren't kidding about the quaintness. This is the local high school. We sat at a cafe next to this building and at one point all the children came pouring out of the school singing songs and playing guitars. I am not kidding.

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Written by Laura in: Slide Shows | 3 Comments »
Apr
16
2009
3

Helsinki Part 2

On the Sunday before we left Helsinki, Chris and I took a boat trip to Suomenlinna Island, which is a short 15-minute ferry ride off the main harbor of Helsinki. The island has functioned in a number of ways over the centuries, most notably as a military fortress and most recently as a residential neighborhood/tourist trap. The day we went was chilly but calm and we walked all over the island, exploring the oddities and beautiful views.

There was still a lot of ice near the shores that scraped the bottom of the ferry as we passed over it. Good thing we were close enough to the shore that if there happened to be a Titanic reenactment, we wouldn't be too far away from rescue. But I would totally want to play the part of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

There was still a lot of ice near the shores that scraped the bottom of the ferry as we passed over it. Good thing we were close enough to the shore that if there happened to be a Titanic reenactment, we wouldn't be too far away from rescue. But I would totally want to play the part of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

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Written by Laura in: Slide Shows | 3 Comments »
Apr
10
2009
4

Helsinki Part 1

Chris and I had the opportunity to go with some of his colleagues to a “Festival of Electronic Arts and Subcultures” in Helsinki, Finland at the beginning of April. I have never before been a part of a festival of subcultures before. According to the dictionary, a subculture is “One culture of microorganisms derived from another.” There MAY have been other definitions, but I am choosing to use this one. There were definitely lots of microorganisms floating around in the brisk Finnish air during that week. Microorganisms armed with dreadlocks, MacBooks and thousands of electrical cords. I was almost swallowed up by one particularly tangled mass of cords near an exhibit.

However, since I am not actually an electronic artist, nor am I part of some sub-group of microorganisms, I was able to do a little sightseeing around the city. Helsinki has a strangely familiar feeling in the air to Minneapolis. Granted, they look nothing alike, but the sky and the smell of it made me feel at home.

The Helsinki harbor was beautifully fresh and still filled with ice chunks floating in the water.

The Helsinki harbor was beautifully fresh and still filled with ice chunks floating in the water.

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Written by Laura in: Slide Shows | 4 Comments »
Apr
08
2009
4

A Few Excuses

Wow, has it really been two months since I last posted? Yikes. Here are a few of my reasons, some legitimate, some not:

1. When we moved to our new apartment in February, we lost our easily available and free access to the internet. And I was too lazy to walk over to Chris’ building to get internet and too cheap to pay for it at a cafe.

2. I came down with what I have self-diagnosed as a case of the Eastern European Blahs. I never realized how much sun Minneapolis really gets in the wintertime until I came to the Land of Eternal Gray Cloud Cover.

3. I have done absolutely nothing interesting in the two months since I last posted. I am serious. Nothing. Nada. Who wants to read “So, today I walked to work again, and it was really gray and cloudy. Then I walked home from work and it was still cloudy, but then it was dark.” BORING.

4. I have been really busy gestating. Gestating is exhausting work, but there is a wonderful surprise at the end. Ours will arrive around September 6. We are beyond excited. And so are our parents, who have been begging for a grandchild since our wedding reception.

So, whether or not you find all of this valid, it’s the truth. But the good news, or maybe I shouldn’t assume how you feel about my blogging, is that I should be up and running at full speed again. For a variety of reasons (this time I promise not to list them) I am no longer working at the landscape architecture office. Instead, I have become like every other foreigner in Budapest and I am teaching English. My only qualification is that I was taught English as a child, but that seems to be all that I need. Language schools love the native speakers. The great thing is that I love it and I have a lot more flexibility in my schedule. I am hoping to fill those extra hours with some traveling, some soul searching, and of course, gestating.

It’s good to be back, even if I am just talking to myself.

A sneek peak at our recent trip to Finland. More on that in the coming days.

A sneek peak at our recent trip to Finland. More on that in the coming days.

Written by Laura in: News | 4 Comments »
Feb
07
2009
5

Hungarian Cuisine Level One

Friday night Chris and I were invited to dinner by two of my coworkers who wanted to share with us some classic Hungarian dishes; a tour around the country, if you will. They also invited a few other friends and the evening was filled with laughter and interesting new food experiences.

The table itself was scrumptuously decorated. First up was a goose liver appetizer. The proper procedure for eating it is as follows, and can be seen on the table:

The table itself was scrumptiously decorated. First up was a goose liver appetizer. The proper procedure for eating it is as follows: First take a piece of bread and spread onto it a thin layer of goose fat (bottom left on the table). Then put a piece of perfectly cooked liver on top and sprinkle, or should I say pour, salt onto the liver. After that comes a red onion/tomato mixture and if you are really daring (I am not) add some spicy peppers. Then take a bite and wait for a taste explosion.

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Written by Laura in: News,Slide Shows | 5 Comments »
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 »

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