Wednesday, December 29, 2010

DC here we come!

I am sitting in the Budapest airport waiting to fly to DC for two weeks. The trip has gone very smoothly so far. The taxi ride was quick, they did not charge us for a third bag, and we bypassed the security line with our diplomatic passports! The extra time at our gate has allowed me to reflect on the season. Emily and I had a wonderful Christmas just the two of us in Budapest. We got our very own real Christmas tree which we dragged through the metro system. They did not even charge us a ticket for the tree! We went to the nutcracker last week, my first time. We went with our good friends, the Blochers. Their two boys loved it too! Emily made lots of Christmas treats and the traditional Scandinavian Christmas dinner of meatballs, pickled herring, riced potatos (yes, I said riced), and lingon berries. One interesting result of being in a community of ex-pats is that most of our friends stayed here and did not have family fly in. Who really wants to visit Budapest in the winter (besides the Christmas market lovers)? So they were our seregate family this holiday! I also got to play my favorite boardgame, Twilight Imperium, twice! I highly reccomend it if you are into galactic empire building. We are so blessed to have a comminity here now. Relationships really are what is important in life. Well, we are about to get on the plane. I wonder if I will have reverse culture shock.... Free refills in restaurants? Sweet!















Location:Ferihegy II. Terminál Indulás,Budapest,Hungary

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas 2010

Dear Family & Friends,

Merry Christmas!!! I hope that this season of joy finds you all well.  We have so much to be thankful for and celebrate this year.  At the top of our list are our friendships with all of you, so thank you for being such amazing, faithful friends to us! With this post, we just wanted to give everyone an update on our first year here in Budapest and reflect on what this year has meant to us. I hope it is encouraging to you!

Emily:

This year has been eventful to say the least.  When I think back to where we were one year ago - in D.C. preparing for our big move and spending time with friends & family before we left at a frantic pace - I can't believe that that was only one year ago.  I have come a long way from where I was a year ago!  For me, this year has been about the Lord teaching me that my worth as a person is not in my occupation but is in my identity as a child of God.  I thought I knew that before we left, but I definitely did not!  After a tumultuous time where I was unsure of everything - what I should be doing day to day and even whether we should have stayed in the States, I am now at a really sweet place where I am enjoying life more fully than I ever have.  I am loving having time to meet with friends, keep our household running, bake and cook, and just generally enjoy life!  This fall, I started volunteering with a Christian organization called Campus Crusade for Christ.  Here in Hungary, Campus Crusade has a ministry for high school and university students in the greater Budapest area.  I am working with the high school ministry, where I am meeting regularly with a student, Rebeka, and attending the weekly gathering for the kids (sort of like an American youth group meeting).  I love the Hungarian kids so much, they are all so precious!  I am hoping to begin meeting with several more students on a regular basis as the year progresses.  My other endeavor of late has been to take steps toward starting my own catering business here in Hungary.  I am very excited about this prospect and am hoping to be in the position to start accepting small jobs soon.  I am researching, gathering recipes, and trying to spread the word amongst the embassy community and other friends that we have here.

Matt and I have really had such an amazing fall, we have meant so many dear friends here in the last few months, which has been such a huge blessing to us.  Most of these new friends are missionaries with Campus Crusade, and we have just had a blast becoming part of that community here. 

Our other big highlight this year has been all the traveling we have been able to do.  In May, we spent a weekend in Paris, and this fall and winter we have traveled to Munich, Athens (Greece, not GA!), Vienna and Stockholm.  It is such a privilege to have the opportunity to see Europe at a leisurely pace.  We love to visit new cities and compare them to each other.  We especially loved Munich - the food and beer helped! - and Stockholm.  Visiting Sweden at Christmastime was such a special time for me, as my family is Swedish and I grew up with lots of Swedish traditions at Christmas.  I felt so at home in Stockholm, it definitely did not feel like a foreign country to me at all!  I can't wait to go back and spend more time in Sweden!

Finally, this year has been for us about becoming an aunt and uncle!  Our precious nephew Alexander was born in January and it has been a great joy of my life to watch him grow this year!  In August, I was able to spend about two weeks with my sister Lisa and her husband Justin and baby Alexander and it was such a sweet time.  We can't wait to visit with them again in January!  

Matt:

I have the paradoxically feeling that the last year flew by and took forever. One year ago Emily and I were busily getting ready to leave our friends and home in DC. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into! Picking up and putting down roots in a foreign city has been both frustrating and rewarding. We did not love Budapest when we first arrived (that was a sentence cloaked in understatement). This city is more “foreign” than most of the cities we have visited in Europe. The language is unique and the people are a hard nut to crack. However, we have grown fond of the Hungarian food, culture, and people.


I work for the US Government! Specifically, I work for the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Like all government agencies, there is bureaucracy and we have an underlying suspicion that people in DC have no idea what’s going on outside of the beltway. However, I have very much enjoyed my job. I am blessed with a great boss who mentors me on how to be a great Management Officer. It has also been interesting working with the US Embassy staff and learning what goes on in a US Embassy overseas. I feel more strongly that diplomacy and development are very important to the US’s long-term national security (read this if you are interested in the US’s strategy link).

Marriage! It’s hard! It’s totally worth it! I forget sometimes that Emily and I have only been married 19 months. We have grown together so much through our overseas experience. We have learned to rely on each other and (more importantly) God since being outside the comforts of living in the US. I recommend any married couple to try it, Peace Corps takes couples of all ages!

We have been very thankful for our new friends in Hungary. Community is very important to us and it was VERY difficult to leave our community in DC. One of the new developments in Hungary is most of our friends here have kids. This has been super fun hanging out with the little tykes, Emily and I have babysat on several occasions.

Emily mentioned travel and how blessed we have been to romp around Europe. We came to a discovery on most recent trip to Stockholm, we really are food travelers. We love trying out the local food! Munich may be my favorite city based solely on the pretzels, beer, and sausages. However, the fish soup is pretty awesome in Stockholm and the French really know how to do bread. I would say the best wine so far is actually found here in Hungary.

Emily and I will probably be here until the summer of 2012. We are not sure what the future holds for us. But isn’t that part of the adventure of life? Please come join our adventure, if for only a short time. We have a guest bedroom and bathroom in the heart of Budapest. Regardless, we would love to hear from!

Blessings,

Matt and Emily



In Paris
                                                          
Seeing iPad for first time in Paris
                                                    
On top of Acropolis overlooking Temple of Zeus

 
In Ancient Corinth
  
At the Parthenon


Warming up in Stockholm!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Disney Castle, Beer, and Board Games

Its dark, really dark outside.

Did you know that Budapest is on the same latitude as Bemidji, Minnesota? Me either, but I
do know that it gets dark here around 4:30 and we still have over a month to go of decreasing light. It has taken Emily and me awhile to get used to the dwindling sunshine.

Travel! We love it, which makes sense why we joined the Foreign Service. We found ourselves in the land of beer, brats, and over the top castles last month. Did you know that Munich is the capital of Bavaria? And when I say Bavaria, I mean the idealized version of Germany that Disney gives us at Epcot. I seriously thought that all of Germany and Europe for that matter is like Munich. People in that city still wear lederhosen! Its awesome. I met this guy at one of the beer halls,
not really but here is me in front of the most famous bar in the world, or so the t-shirts they sold told me.
There were a ridiculous amount of people in the "beer hall" and they even had one of those bands with an accordion. We also went to the "Disney Castle", otherwise known as Neuwachstein Castle. Unfortunately, we went the one day of the year where the place was fogged over to the point we could not see it outside of 10 feet. It did give us one cool shoot walking through the main gate. We did not get too discouraged and improvised with a little souvenir stand (see the castle over my left shoulder? Yeah... me either).



We also went to Vienna, Austria last weekend. We did not have the same love for Vienna as we did for Munich. The lack of pretzels and beer was downright disturbing. We went to an art museum and saw famous Italian Renaissance paintings. Don't get me wrong, those guys could paint back then. But if I don't see another winged baby angel in my lifetime, I would consider myself blessed. (Oh, and by the way, Cherubs are NOT baby angels, thanks Raphael....).

I love board games. Emily and I met a missionary family here in Budapest, The Partins, who have two cute girls (and one on the way). Dave Partin, also loves board games almost as much as me. We have set up a weekly gaming night while our wives are at Bible Study. Its great fun, I have not played this many board games since college. Last week we recreated the 1960 presidential election. I was Nixon and unfortunately, history repeated itself.

Emily and I are looking forward to spending Thanksgiving in Athens, Greece (sorry friends in Georgia). We are also looking forward to a four day weekend in December where we will visit Stockholm, Sweden. I will be sure to bring my long johns for that trip.

If you made it this far, please drop us a message on this blog or send us an email!
Blessings!

Matt




Friday, July 23, 2010

Trip to Balaton

Last weekend we went to Lake Balaton, as Matt wrote in our last post. We went to visit our friends the Blochers, who were there in the town of Keszthely ("Kest-hey") for the month volunteering at a camp that Campus Crusade for Christ puts on every summer. We went to a waterpark with them and their two kids on Friday and also visited the camp and met lots of awesome folks! It was a great weekend. Here are some pics.


















Zalakaros water park









Neat old hotel on the lake









Swans!









Feeding the ducks (but not swans, as sign said not to-this turned into a game as you can imagine)









Replica of an old steamboat that we took a cruise on
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Location:Perczel Mór St,Budapest,Hungary

Grape sheep

This is my favorite Hungarian ad, the grape sheep! Isn't he cute? I think he's an ad for tea, which is really weird. I love him though!



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Perczel Mór St,Budapest,Hungary

Testing

Let's see if I can post from iPhone now.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Castles and Waterslides

Greetings World,

Emily and I are having a splendid time on our mini-vacation which we needed after failed 4th of July excursion. I took the day off yesterday and we meet our good friends John and Jamie at a cute town near Hungary's famous Lake Ballaton (the largest lake in Europe). Yesterday, we went to the sixth largest "strand" in Hungary which is like a municiple pool meets water park. It sounds lame, but was actually pretty fun. They had both indoor and outdoor pools for the full year round experience. They also had water slides that were surprisingly fun.





Today we have been hanging out at the "beach" town of Keszthely. Hungary does not have a proper coast but they pretend their lake is an ocean with beach towns to prove it. Here is a shot of the lake. It is suposedly a well known place to go sailing ( a not too subtle hint to JP an and Katie ;)).




Location:Kasély St,Keszthely,Hungary

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Go Germany!

Emily and I are here with our 1000 closest European friends watching the Germany and Spain World Cup semi-final. They ARE crazy about soccer, I mean football here.





Location:Szabadság tér,Budapest,Hungary

Monday, July 5, 2010

4th of July in Budapest

Emily and my first 4th of Julyin Budapest has been eventful. It started out with the US embassy here deciding to host the official 4th of July on Canada Day. I had the honor of being chosen for crowd control. I was in charge of telling people to not wait in line and greet the embassador but to have free Hagen Dazs compliments of the American tax payer. Starbucks and McDonalds were also there to give away free Frapachinos and Big Macs. The highlight for me was getting a picture with the Ambassador and the Hungarian prime minister in front of the Starbucks tent.



The next day started our two day attempt to cross the border into Croatia to camp at a world heritage site. We got to the Croatian border and the Hungarian guards asked for our passports which we happily produced. They said there was no record of us entering Hungary our passports, which is true because we entered in with our diplomatic passports. Basically, they said that they could not let us leave because they had no record of us arriving in Hungary. I choose not to point out the hole in their logic and was glad they did not choose to detain us. Calling the Embassy and saying "I know I didn't do a great job of shortening the line for the embassador, but could you drive 3 hours and get us out of jail?". So we drove back to Budapest determined to get up early the next day and try again. Unfortunetly, fate had other plans for us. We got on the road about 8am towards Croatia and found bumper to bumper traffic out of Budapest. Everyone and their pet goat (they don't actually have goats for pets here) decided to drive to lake Ballaton, the Hungarian equvilent to spending a weekend at the beach. It took us an hour to go 5 miles when we discovered that we were painfully low on gas. We pulled of at the next gas station to fill up our Skoda rental (yeah, I don't know where Skoda cars are made either). We filled up and then proceeded to wait in line for the WC ( that's bathroom in European speak) because we were not the only ones to take a break from the Ballaton gridlock. The funny part is they charge for the opportunity to relieve yourself, but toliet paper us not included. Once we get back on the road, no joke less than 10 minutes and 25 feet later our Skodamobile overheats. It was was spewing steam out of the hood. We pull over, pop the hood, and realize this car had seen better days. The engine is filthy and probably never has been maintained. Three hours later to tow truck arrived because they too had to brave the traffic. At some point during our wait with the blazing heat, smell of gasoline, and the roar of cars whizzing past us we decided this trip was not meant to be. The funny part was that Hertz did end up giving us a new car but was actually smaller than our first one which was not "large" by any international standard. We did end up making it back to our Apartment, but not before I got a ticket on the light rail for not having my monthly pass on me. On a positive note we got to see Germany route Argentina and we finally got the hang of using our pizza stone. We made some of the best thin crust to date. Now we are relaxing next to one of the many Hungarian public pools (they call them baths which weirds me out... Please don't come to a public pool in need of a shower). This particular complex has 11 pools and is located on the big island on the Danube (just a 10 min bike ride from our apt). Here is a shot of something you don't see I'm the US, we call it Pool Ball Boy. They zip you in, blow up the ball and send you on your merry way.




Thanks for reading, Happy 4th of July!

Matt

Location:Hajós Alfréd sétány,Budapest,Hungary

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Acting Executive Officer

So today marks the last day of being the "Acting EXO" at my work. The Executive Officer is a quirky name for the management officer for USAID. That position is in charge of many of the administrative functions such as HR, IT, Security, Procurement, Travel, etc. for the USAID office. The position also works closely with the director of the office.

Up until this point, I have just observed how the office and the EXO work, this week I got to live it. It is an interesting job because you never know what is going to happen or who will walk into your office. This week I had to help someone reinstate their car insurance. They got a letter saying as of today you are unisured and you better not drive your car... I also helped another person find baby sitting.... weird. More of the mundane things have been setting up trainings this summer and signing lots and LOTS of papers (hmnn, hope I don't go to jail for this one...).

I wasn't sure what I was expecting with my job here in Budapest, but this week has been pretty fun.

- Matt

Monday, April 5, 2010

Happy Easter!

This morning we went to an Easter sunrise service that the church we have been attending hosted. Here are some pictures.



We missed our friends and family alot this Easter but had a great time spending time together today. Seeing the sun rise over the empty cross while standing on a mountain really brought home the Easter Good News for me this year.











We also had a ham that I bought at the produce/meat market behind our building and I made my dad's famous mac n cheese and lemon chiffon cake. It was such a feast! The hungarians are serious about pork and The ham was pretty much the best one I ever had.













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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Other Half....

Hello World that follows our blog,



So I have been quite delinquent in my blogging responsibilities, I have not lived up to the title of MATT and Emily. Granted, Emily is a much better writer than me, but that is not really an excuse.



I am going to be honest, the first 6 weeks in Budapest was rough. It didn't help that everyone I talked with at USAID was super jealous when I told them that Budapest was our first assignment. One senior Foreign Service Officer said, it is OK not to like Budapest, but it felt like we are SUPPOSED to love it. Well, we haven't loved it yet. We went through severe culture shock, and have felt a big hole from leaving our amazing community in DC (shout out to our Karios peeps). But, God has used this challenging time in our lives. Emily and I have bonded as a married couple in a way not possible in the safety of the US. We have also been forced to rely on God more fully than in the States.



Now with the weather *finally* getting warmer, this place is starting to grow on us. We had a great time at the Easter Festival last weekend. Emily posted some pictures and commented on my "Epcot Experience". It might just be a reflection on me, but it seems pretty sad that as an American, many of my real "cultural experiences" in Europe go back to my trips to Disney world.... I told Emily, "This is just like the Germany section at Epcot". Except this is real... whoa... blowing my mind. Like real kids dressing up in their folky pants and dancing like those river dance people. AND LIKING IT!



A couple weeks back we went to a real life hot lake. It was pretty crazy because this ingenious Hungarians built a large indoor walkway and platform on top of the lake so in the winter you never have to be outside. Very strange swimming in a lake but also being fully enclosed. I was having a hard time wrapping my brain around that.



Other observations while living in Hungary:



1. Restaurants do not offer ketchup for fries without a request, and then you only get a mini-packet, but you get a full on BOTTLE of kethcup when you order pizza.... weird.



2. There are no speed limits on the highways. The Hungarians have really taken this freedom to the limits. On the right lane you have these cars hauling home-made trailers going like 50 miles an hour. Then in the left hand lane you have these speed-devils going (I am not joking) 120 miles an hour. Made for some very exciting lane changes....



3. Hungarians like their wine! The average $7 wine here is usually as good a $20 bottle in the States. When we were driving around the countryside after our indoor/outdoor lake experience, we saw not just a few front lawns where the owners gave up their grass for their own VINEYARD!


They like their wine here.



That will about wrap it up for post. We are enjoying Budapest a lot more the last couple of weeks. But please keep praying for us and ask God to show us how we serve here.



Blessings,



Matt



P.S. If you are reading this, Emily and I would ask you to comment so we know we are just not writing to ourselves... we are not asking for money, just a comment.... :)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring market

This evening Matt and I walked down to this adorable spring market. There are beautiful crafts for sale and delicious treats. Matt said it reminded him of Epcot Center at Disneyworld only this was the real thing! The last pic is of me holding a yummy treat - a hot doughy pastry thing covered in cinnamon sugar. Sort of like a pretzel but way better. The pic above that one shows how they are cooked. We had a great time - it might be my favorite thing we've done yet!















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Location:City center Budapest

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Picnic lunch

Matt usually comes home for lunch but today it was so nice outside that I packed sandwiches for us and we ate in the park right outside our flat. Here are some photos from lunch. We are so glad
for spring's arrival!










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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Portable blogging

So I have entered the new millenium and got a smartphone! The coolest thing about it so far is that I


can use it to blog from anywhere and can upload pictures I take with it. This is good news for you readers out there. You can expect alot more pics now as it will be a ton easier for me to post them now. Here is one from tonight! Tomten perched on his fave post - Matt's dresser. He can see all from his post.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Bed

Monday, March 22, 2010

Possibilities....

So, I (Emily) am trying to discern what to do with myself for two years while here in Budapest.  I hesitate to write a post "all about me" but I could honestly use some help from people who know me in the advice arena. Plus, writing it down helps me to figure things out.  So, here it goes.  :)  There are lots of career options and no options all at the same time it seems.  Lots of potential, but nothing concrete so far.  Its sort of wonder-filled and good-for-the-soul and frustrating all at the same time to go through this process of taking a step back to look at my career from the big picture.  I am more thankful everyday to have this opportunity to do this.  I keep thinking about the career change/decision processes that many of my friends have gone through in the past few years though and their journeys have been inspiring to me! Here are the ideas that I have been thinking about- some for about 30 seconds and some have been rolling around in my head for awhile....just to give you a sample of how all-over-the-map things are at the moment!
-teach high school
-be a "stay at home wife" for two years
-try my hand at writing (fiction or nonfiction)
-volunteer to take veteran's cases before the court I used to work for
-do online training in graphic desigh/web development
-teach preschool
-volunteer with a missions organization in Budapest
-work for an international organization like the UN
-volunteer/work for an environmental organization (there are quite a few here in Budapest).

So, those are some of my ideas.  If anyone has any words of advice or encouragement for me, I'd appreciate it very much!  In the mean time, I am enjoying having time to think about this stuff and dream a bit and also am enjoying a slower pace of life here.  Matt and I have had such a blast getting to know each other better over the past 6 weeks.  We have spent so much one on one time together, which has been such a huge blessing to us and our marriage.

We miss you all back in the States!

Love,
Emily

Friday, March 19, 2010

March 15th and Volunteering with Campus Crusade

Hello friends and family ~  I hope this posting finds you well.  The first thing I have to mention in this post is my utter thankfulness that SPRING HAS ARRIVED in Budapest.  I have never been so glad to see spring as I was this year.  It was a long, cold winter in D.C. and Budapest this year, both having usually harsh winters this year. Oddly, it turned to spring here literally overnight.  I woke up Thursday morning and birds were chirping, the air was mild, the sun was bright and shining, birds were chirping, street stands selling flowers and pussy willows had popped up on every corner, and all the cafes had there outdoor tables out.  I am not exaggerating that all these things happened in one day! It was incredible.

Thursday was also a special day because I was privileged to be able to help out all day with some missionaries with Campus Crusade for Christ working here in Hungary with high school students.  A new friend that I met here recently invited me to go with her and a few others to a local high school to help the students practice their English.  We visited 5-6 classrooms for about 45 minutes at a time and introduced ourselves, played games with them, and then broke the students into smaller groups to help them practice having a conversation with us in English.  We then invited them to Campus Crusade's weekly meeting for high school students.  I had such a good time!  It was so amazing to get to visit a Hungarian high school and meet the students.  It was such a blessing to me to be able to serve them in this way by helping them with their English and just loving on them for a bit.  I was thankful for the time I spent in Athens doing youth ministry yesterday, as I was calling up many skills I learned during that time yesterday.  I also met some great folks working with Crusade and was thankful to make those connections and spend some time in fellowship with other believers.  I had a great day!

Last weekend was a long weekend here in Hungary, with Monday, March 15 being a holiday here.  The best way I can describe the holiday is that its the Hungarian version of Independence Day.  On March 15, 1848, the Hungarians staged an uprising against the Austrian Hapsburgs that ruled their country.  While the uprising was not successful, to the best of my understanding, it represents the resilient spirit of the Hungarians.  Also, I think that the uprising was the start of a more balanced relationship with Austria that eventually led to the co-ruling of the Austro-Hungarian Empire by both the Austrians and Hungarians later in the 19th century.  If you want to know more, you will have to "wikipedia" it.  On March 15 every year, the Hungarians have lots of political rallies, demonstrations, etc.  The tone is much more serious than our July 4th holiday (no crafts, fireworks, or BBQ that I could see).  These rallies mostly take place in Budapest right in our neighborhood.  The reason I mention it is because we thought that we were coming back into town on Monday afternoon late enough that the "festivities" would be over.  However, we ended up witnessing it all firsthand, which was pretty cool actually.  After driving around the city for about an hour trying to get to our apartment with no luck (we rented a car for the weekend), we finally decided to abandon our car across the Danube in Buda.  All the roads leading into our neighborhood were blocked off by police. We saw a parking spot become available (the first open parking spot we'd seen during our hour of driving around) and quickly pulled in. We were only about 100 yards from the Chain Bridge, so we walked across it and were home in about 30 minutes.  On our walk home, we were in the midst of huge crowds that came downtown for the rallies, most were carrying the Hungarian flag or wearing a ribbon in the colors of the flag.  Lots of families were there.  Each political group had a designated space to have their rally - one that we saw had people dressed up in old soldier garb and the speaker was accompanied by lots of clarinets and drums.  The bridge we walked across was closed to all but foot traffic and lots of horse & buggies. 

We went back later that night at 10:00pm when the bride finally reopened to claim our car. We were both praying like crazy that it would still be there!  Thankfully, it was. 

I will talk more about our weekend trip in my next post. I think that is enough for now! 

Love,
Emily & Matt

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March in Budapest

Hello!  I apologize to everyone who follows our blog for the long time between posts.  Thanks so much for reading, it means a lot to Matt and I and we will be better about more frequent posts in the future!  We are starting to settle in more in Budapest.  The first few weeks we really were in shock - its just SO very different here from home.  We celebrate small victories everyday!  Here are some recent small victories:
- Found the big fruit/vegetable market and bought some hard-to-find produce like spinach, mushrooms, lemons. 
- Figured out how to get things shipped to us from Amazon
- Had friends over for a meal for the first time
- Figured out how to find movie theaters that show movies in English
- Found some coffee shops that serve coffee to go (most of them here require you to sit down and order coffee).
- Discovered how to take the subway to Tesco (large wal-mart like store).

Those are a few of our latest victories! 

We have also had lots of funny things happen since we've been here. As you can imagine. One story that comes to mind - we were trying to get home one night after a movie, it was about 10:30 p.m.  We decided to try to get a cab.  Usually here it is recommended to call a cab ahead of time (so you can ensure its a reputable company) but obviously we couldn't do that because we were already out.  So we went to a square near a large bus/metro stop and were looking for a cab.  We were looking for about 10 minutes and finally spotted two cabs parked on the street with their lights on indicating they were free. We went up to the first one - the cab driver was fast asleep.  We were like "should we wake her up??!!".  We went to the second cab.  Again, driver fast asleep.  We were giggling wondering if it would be rude to wake them up?  Did they want business more or sleep more?  We ended up taking the bus, which came just as we were trying to decide what to do. 

About the public transportation here.  Its VERY good.  Coming from D.C., we are amazed at how good it is and think its pretty funny that most people look at us funny when we say we don't have a car.  We have never waited more than 4 minutes for the subway or tram or 10 minutes for a bus.  No matter what day or time.  Another funny thing about the subway is that it is seriously fast and efficient.  These folks are not messing around.  The escalators run at least twice as fast as any in the U.S.  Its actually kinda scary to step onto it, I find myself grabbing Matt before we step on if he's with me.  No one walks up or down them because there is no need to - they are fast enough!  Also, the doors to the trains would never meet American safety standards I don't think.  They open and close while the train is still moving and when they shut, they SHUT.  They are made of extremely heavy metal and they SLAM.  There is no need for the warning that they have in the D.C. metro that says that the doors don't bounce back.  It is readily apparent that you will be crushed to pieces should you be so unfortunate as to get between them at the wrong time.

Well, enough about the public transportation in Budapest.  I am sure that you now know more than you ever wanted to know about it.

This is a holiday weekend in Hungary and Matt has Monday off.  So, we are renting a car and going to Heviz, Hungary.   This is a resort town about 2 hours west of Budapest that has a thermal lake - it is a natural lake that is fed by thermal springs so it never gets below 78 degrees F and gets as hot as 93 deg. in the summer. We are staying at a little B&B I found online, which has a hot tub, 2 saunas, and massages for $24/hour!  We can't wait to have a nice relaxing weekend after all the stress of moving. Here is a link to the hotel we are staying at that has pictures of the lake on it :  http://prestigehaz.hu/en/

That is all for now. 

May the peace of the Lord be with you,

Emily (& Matt)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sightseeing

These are photos of Parliament, me with a statute of the 1956 Hungarian prime minister who defected from Communism and was killed for doing so, view of Budapest from the Danube.  These photos were taken within a 5 minute walk from our apartment!  The other two photos are of Vaci Ut ("Vahtsee" Street) - a famous pedestrian shopping street in Budapest.

Our apartment in Budapest

 Top picture is a view from our living room window onto Freedom Park Square.