Monday, July 25, 2011

Getting everywhere by tram

Here is some more of our explorations of Budapest. Getting to know our city and the public transport that takes us there.

One of the many bridges that cross the Danube between Buda and Pest.
(Great view on foot!)
Holocaust Memorial to the hundreds of Jews who were shot on the banks of the Danube.
(Take Tram 2 to get there.)
Heroes Square in Pest.
(Metro 1 goes straight there.)
A statue of Peace in Heroes Square, which stands opposite of War and alongside Knowledge and Glory.
The park behind Heroes Square contains interesting art and beautiful architecture.
Another view of Buda from the Pest side.
(The view on Tram 2 along the river.)
Central Market Hall is a good place to pick up Hungarian souvenirs and local produce. It's a bit far from our house, but luckily we found a great market just a few tram stops away from home.
(Tram 2 to Central Market and Tram 4 or 6 to our little local market.)
We're finding more treasures in our new home. Some of my top picks include Charlotte, an AMAZING dessert cafe, and a little sewing shop a few tram stops away from the house (will be useful when my sewing machine actually gets here).

Europe, thank you for being so efficient and creating vast networks of public transport. I'm an independent woman again!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mr. and Mrs. Fix-It

It doesn't take much to impress Will and me after living in Africa for three years. So this week when we walked into Obi, the German version of Home Depot in Hungary, we were in awe of all the STUFF you can get. As I said to Will, "Imagine if you had had one of these in Nairobi." Everything would have been a lot easier to fix and find and make. So that's what we set out to do during our Obi shopping experience... Find stuff and fix up our new flat.
Our fix-it list:
1. Chain and hooks to keep the windows from banging in the wind when open.
2. Door stops to keep doors from banging shut when the wind blows through the open window.
3. Paint to cover the hideous lime wall in our living room and kitchen.

We added in a few extra finds as well... broom, soap dish, pliers (Will's tool kit is in our Hungary bound shipment - gotta have something in the meantime!).

We went from this (our flat upon arrival):
To this:
I'm still not completely sold on the color, but it's definitely an improvement. And I can always go back to Obi to buy more paint. I love living in the Western world!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Our dear friend, Bekah, arrived in Budapest a couple days after we did. She was ready to explore our new home with us.
So that is what we've been doing, taking a little time to be tourists in our new city. This is what we've seen...

The Castle District.
The Parliament District.
(This is the view of Parliament from the Castle.)
(Where we saw the decaying hand of St. Stephen, the King of Hungary around AD 1000.)

The Jewish District.
We've also squeezed in a bit of shopping, a lot of walking, some great meals, and a trip to my school. There is so much to do and see. More to come for your blog viewing pleasure!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Exploring the neighborhood

This is where we live.
The second and third floors (to the left in the picture) are ours. The two windows on the second floor are guest bedrooms (where you can stay if you come visit!) and the top two windows that stick out above the roof are our living room and kitchen.

This is our street.
The Coca Cola sign sits above a little shop where we've bought fruit, meat, cheese, cherry cola, and magnum bars. It's a one minute walk from our flat. Convenient!
This is a nearby Hungarian restaurant about a seven minute walk from our house. It was recommended by a friend of Will's. And Sunday lunch is half price! I think we've found our new Sunday afternoon lunch spot. :)
This was my first authentic Hungarian meal. Veal and potatoes Hungarian style. It was so good!
This is a small park just near our flat. Quiet, no one around, a good place to read a book.
Margaret Island is a seven minute walk from our flat as well. A whole island in the middle of the Danube River with beautiful gardens, walking and running paths, fountains, old churches, Roman ruins, and more.
One of the views on Margaret Island...
There were lots of people just hanging out in their swimming suits getting a tan. My kind of place!

This is the ruins of the convent where Princess Margit (whom the Island is named after) lived and died.
That's our neighborhood! We're in a really convenient location to get all around the city. We've spent a lot of time walking and exploring all the places and beautiful buildings our new home has to offer. Recently we also got a public transport pass. It's official - we're regulars in Budapest!
Now we're spending our time learning the transport system and getting ourselves to different districts all around the city. My impression so far: I think I'm going to like living here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Day 1 in Budapest:
Arrived at the airport in the morning with a taxi waiting for us.
Found our new home and waited a few minutes outside for someone to meet us (since we actually had no idea what number flat was ours and couldn't ring them from the door).
The landlady welcomed us, showed us around, and discussed details. One major perk... She speaks great English!
We hit the bank to exchange money and pay the rest of our rent.
Then a lady from my school arrived with all kinds of treats: food, money, TP, map, metro passes, and a grocery list in Hungarian and English. The essentials. It was a very warm welcome!
After everyone left the house, we kicked off our shoes and rested a bit before heading off to explore and get some necessary items.
We strolled the streets across the bridge to a HUGE shopping center. Shopping! I am in fashion heaven (not that it takes much for me after three years in Kenya). Some of our first purchases: pillows, laundry soap, dishwashing soap, sponges, hair dryer and curling iron. (The hair electronics weren't necessary but why not? I didn't own a curling iron in Kenya, so this will be kinda fun.)
We came back to the flat, took a long nap, woke up for dinner at an unexpected find, Marxim, a communist themed pizza and beer restaurant.
The night ended with a walk on the Buda side of town (our side) and our eyes closed before the slingbox movie was half over.
We were TIRED!

Day 2 in Budapest:
Woke up after sleeping like logs, ate some yogurt and cereal, then headed out for some shopping...
First, T-mobile for a cell phone SIM card. We have a Hungarian phone number now.
Second, off to IKEA! Where we were a bit overwhelmed since we have NOTHING and IKEA has EVERYTHING. So we decided to start with the basics: bed and blankets, couch, garbage cans, clothes drying rack, and two candles (to mask the somewhat strange scent left by the previous occupants of our flat). They will deliver it all tomorrow afternoon (Day 3). New stuff! Exciting!
Last, grocery shopping. Tacos for dinner tonight - our first legitimate meal in the new abode.

I think we've gotten off to a good start. Slowly we're finding our way around and making this home. We have a long way to go, but even today I got to use some of my VERY limited Hungarian (thanks to YouTube) by saying "Angolul?" (English?) No English, so the next word, "Segitsig." (Help.) With a lot of gesturing and these two simple words, I got the IKEA guy to help us move a bed box. "Kosonom!" (Thank you!)

We're on our way...! :)

Monday, July 11, 2011


The Sad Goodbyes:
The toughest people to say goodbye to are our Kenyan friends, who aren't likely to visit Budapest or won't be in town when we're in the States. This was the day the tears started rolling for me.

The Funny Goodbyes:
This is the neighbor's cat, Rafiki. This picture shows how he decided to help us while we were packing.
He'll miss his Uncle Will whom he visited each day. But we gave him his favorite napping blanket to keep, so he'll always remember us.

The Happy Goodbyes:
Gitanga Road, oh how I will never miss thee. Your exhaust fumes, mad matatu drivers, and man-eating holes I will gladly exchange for paved sidewalks, tree-lined paths, and public transportation that is not a major health hazard. Goodbye forever!
I guess most things in life are good and bad.
Goodbyes are no different.
And new adventures too.
We leave in 1 day!

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I have a tendency to move to countries I've never been. China. Kenya. Now Hungary. When you've never been to the place you're moving, you try to imagine what it will be like. You get excited about the possibilities. You think through the things that are important to pack, when really you don't know what you'll need or miss or want. Then there are The Expectations. You create these in your head even if you try not to. I have to admit that I do have expectations when moving from Kenya to Hungary. I expect things to work properly in Hungary. I expect to go to the park and read a book. I expect to use public transportation. By myself. Whenever I want. I expect my husband not to worry about safety too much. I expect to go running with my iPod. I expect less dirt. I expect more camping and hiking. I expect a lot of white people. I expect to blend in more (until I open my mouth). I expect some frustrations, particularly language ones. And I expect that unsettled feeling for awhile, the feeling that I really don't know how to do things in this country yet and I have to just keep trying. Expectations are inevitable. It's when they're not met that disappointment sets in, followed by frustration, maybe even anger at times. I figure that none of that frustration can be as bad as braving the roads of Nairobi. But then again, maybe I'm wrong. All the moving-abroad-books say to keep your expectations low. Is "reading in a park" too high of an expectation? I'll let you know when I get there.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


I'm done with school! It has been a great year at Braeburn. But in all honesty, I'm ready to move on. Well, I'm at least ready to be done with the paperwork and play practices and extended hours. Of course, there are some things I'll miss... The kids.
How can you not love those faces, especially when I get love letters and poems like these?... :)
Most of all, I'll miss the friends and co-workers, who have added lots of laughs and fun to the hard work. You are a super fun, hilarious bunch! I think you'll be a difficult group to beat.
Best wishes to everyone at Braeburn. Come visit us in Budapest!