Sunday, August 21, 2011

Currently Not in Budapest....

I miss Budapest... especially the summer weather!  Emily and I are back in DC awaiting the grand entrance of our our first child, Abigail.  We miss the ice cream you can find every 10 feet in Budapest.  I mean seriously, where in the US can you get lemon ice cream like this:


The last trip Emily and I took without little tag-a-longs was to Pecs, Hungary in the middle of June.  We also did some wine tasting (well I did some wine tasting) in a nearby town called Villany.  It was a nice relaxing weekend and we found the elusive Hungarian flower-balls only found in the southern part of the country.


Pecs was declared the "European Capital of Culture" in 2010 which is quite the title.  It was actually a very beautiful city with lots of cool sites like some 1st century Christian burial sites (they looked pretty old).  Even the kids were having fun.


Emily officially went "full term" today at 37 weeks.  Not sure why the due date is 40 weeks if the little one could come any day now?  We can't wait for the new adventure to begin!  Any advice on the birth/next 18 years?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Weddings and Musings

Have you ever been to a Hungarian wedding?  Me either as of two days ago....  Weddings are one of the last remaining formal rituals in the US and it is interesting to compare to other cultures' rituals such as the wedding.  We had the honor of participating in our first Hungarian wedding last weekend.  It was somewhat cheating, our DC friend Jeff met an awesome woman back in DC and asked her hand in marriage and she happens to be from Budapest!  The wedding ceremony was in a very old Catholic church near our apartment in Budapest.  The kind of church Americans go visit when they are touring Europe.  It was somewhat odd that I was sitting and participating in such an important event than photographing the flying angel baby statues....
 The ceremony was not that different from an American wedding (besides the Hungarian spoken).  The main difference I noticed was the underemphasis on the wedding party.  Both Jeff and Judit had their sibling as an attendant but they did not have bridesmaids/groomsmen.  It was refreshing to have the focus on the couple and the covenant and not on the entourage and costumes (the American custom to wear a "dress" that a woman will only wear as a bridesmaid or to a Halloween party still baffles me) .  The bride did throw the bouquet of flowers to all the single women.  I haven't deciphered the culture link on that particular activity....

Hungarians know how to party!  Dinner started at 7pm after an hour cocktail and went until 10pm!  The food and wine kept coming through the whole reception and food was still be served at 1AM.  We had a full 4 course dinner (with dessert) AND they had a wedding cake which was cut around 12AM.  I was surprised all the guests stayed almost till 1:30AM including kids and grandparents.  It was a very neat contrast to American paced wedding receptions. It seems like with our fast paced American culture that we do not know how to soak up an important event.  Most American weddings we are in and out in several hours and call it good.  This wedding people really seemed to be really enjoying the event and the other guests.  One of my favorite surprises was the waiters bringing straight-up Jack Daniels at 12:30AM.  "Why yes a shot of Whiskey sounds pretty darn tasty right now..."
We are very happy for Jeff and Judit!  Look at this beatiful couple... :)


Love knows no boundaries?  I think so.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Slovenia and Fatherhood

The dark cold season of winter is finally retreating in Eastern Europe, which is to say the least, is very exciting.  I have not looked forward to Spring this much since 2001.  Hungary has the lovely winter combination of Minnesota cold and Washington clouds.  The weather recently has been pretty nice, lower 60s and sunny.

Emily and I went on our first European road trip (if you don't count the failed Croatia trip last July (see earlier post)) this month to Slovenia.  To be perfectly honest, I did not know the difference between Slovenia and Slovakia before arriving in Budapest.  Slovenia is the Slov country that was formally part of Yugoslavia.  The country ROCKS!  Seriously, it reminds me of Colorado with all the cool mountain towns but with European charm (did I just write charm.... better than "cute").  The people are very friendly and welcome foreigners.  We visited two mountain lakes, the first is Lake Bled which is a famous vacation site and the second is Lake Bohinj which felt pretty wild with no roads around most of the lake.


We hope to go back to Slovenia before we leave Hungary.  Our next trip will probably be next month with our friends Kam and Lauren when they come visit!  We are loving being able to travel around Europe.

FATHERHOOD..... its becoming more real every day now that Emily is showing more.  We have started deciding what "baby items" we "need" to buy.  Emily bought me the book for expectant fathers titled "My Boys Can Swim" which is a pretty funny book.  One of the chapters is about the baby stuff and says "beware of the baby peddlers".  I have to admit, some of the stuff is pretty cool.  "Pack'n Play" sounds deceptively lame, but who can't see the usefulness of having a portable crib/playpen.  

Emily and I have tentatively worked out our plans for the summer.  We are coming back to DC to have the baby and will be there from August 1st - Sometime in October.  I'll be doing a month of training in August and then will be waiting for the little millsling to make an appearance.  Anyone reading this wants to come visit, let us know!  

Any fathers out there have any advice on what baby items we actually need or any other advice, let me know!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Geneva With Friends

Last weekend Emily and I hopped on a plane and made our way back to Western Europe.  This particular trip took us to Geneva, Switzerland!  I did not know much about this city besides it being the location of several international organizations (WTO!!) including the League of Nations (thank you President Wilson).  I was pleasantly surprised that this was a beautiful city with very friendly natives.  The first day we took the train up to Lausanne which was farther north on Lake Geneva.  The second day we spent the day with our good friends, Mitch and Michelle (they are getting married in May, woo hoo!).  They spent the next week skiing about an hour outside of Geneva.


On Saturday morning, we were walking to the train station on our way to Lausanne and saw this guy.  How many times have you seen a guy with a light saber, cape, Russian cap, and sun glasses?  Oh, and he was rambling in indistinguishable Arabic (well... all Arabic is indistinguishable to me, but I swear it was gibberish).
  
We loved Lausanne!!  It is a not so small town northeast of Geneva on Lake Geneva.  It has a wonderful lake front area where you can see the French Alps on the other side of the lake.  The Saturday we were there, the lake had a fog over it which limited the visibility of the Alps, but it did make the sailboats on the lake seem like they were floating.

There was also a very cool old medieval part of town which had a cool church and castle.  In that area was lots of shops and we ate at a wonderful French restaurant which was awesome!  Its a serious social faux pas to show up to dinner before 7:30, but if you're ok with breaking social conventions, you will get the whole restaurant to yourself.  We arrived at 7:15 so we had the whole restaurant to ourselves... for 15 minutes.   Sunday we spent the whole day with our friends exploring Geneva.  There was a very cool church on the hill were we got an awesome view of the city.


We then took a closer look at that cool fountain and then took a boat tour which we got to see the city from the lake.  We then had an amazing dinner where the only choice you had was how rare you wanted the steak (rare or REALLY rare).  The steak was amazing which was a treat because the beef is not so great in Budapest.  We had a wonderful time in Geneva with our friends and it was awesome to spend some time in Switzerland.  One funny story about the bathrooms in Geneva.  Many of the restaurants have codes on their bathroom doors.  We went to McDonald's because Emily really had to use the WC (that's bathroom in Europe...).  I went to order and she went to track down the WC.  She came back immediately and said she needed the secret bathroom password.  "What?"  We asked the McDonald's burger giver and they showed us that the secret password was on the receipt.  "Of course....."  We ended up at Starbucks the next day (we collect the city mugs now, thank you John and Jamie).  We found the WC had the same secret code so we asked the caffeine pusher what the secret WC password is and his response was: (insert funny British accent) "There is no code, just push the door. If it does not go, push harder."


Thanks for reading, if you want to see the rest of our Geneva photos, click the below link.

Geneva Photos

Blessings,


Matt and Emily