Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A weekend in Madrid

The first weekend of the month, I headed to Madrid.  I found the ticket for about 30 dollars, round trip, so I figured why not, and bought it just about two weeks beforehand.  So after the typical Ryanair runaround, I arrived to Madrid and discovered this in the metro.  (I must say, it's a good thing that this wasn't such a common ad campaign last year when I was in Madrid and desperately missing Hungary.)

I found my way to Mary's flat and dropped off my stuff, quite pleased with myself that Madrid is still second nature to me.  We then headed to her friend's apartment, grabbing me a yummy kebab on the way, to play Settlers of Kataan.  Which is pretty much a perfect table game, by the way.  Then it was off for some really overpriced tintos, which Mary got delightful Spanish over, before heading home.

Saturday's breakfast was at Mundo de Croquetas.  The dude working there judged us slightly for eating croquetas before noon, but I didn't care.  They were delicious.  Croquetas.  I miss you.

I headed to Moncloa and caught the bus out to San Lorenzo to see Hernan and Yoichi.  We had a nice dinner outside: the weather was amazing for the first weekend of March.  And I held Yoichito cat and he was angry, but then he relented.
Hernan and I then went for walk, and admired the bucolic sheep grazing under the bucolic almond blossoms...
... and the Spanish sky...
... and the monastery.  We had a really nice talk and it was really great to speak for hours in Spanish again, and especially to see my old roomie.  He was a good roomie and I miss him.
Then it was back to Madrid and out for Cien Montaditos, which no longer serves gulas to my horror, and then to Magic Beer.  Which still serves magical beer, to my delight.  Silliness ensued, and, as usual, I wound up buying beer from a dude selling cans on the street from a cardboard box stand.  We then went back to Mary's and played darts and danced with puppets.  And then, to continue the as usual, I ended the night at a gay bar.  It was a fun night.  There's me, Jess, and Mary up there.
The next day, Mary, Chelsi and I hit the Rastro, where we found nothing, and then visited one of the funniest shops ever, where we read ridiculous books and improved our vocabulary.  Then for lunch it was pinxos!  Yum.
Then there was a trip to buy some jewelry, and we visited Chelsi's tea room.
I also pierced poor Mary's ears, in the most horrifying and least successful piercing ever.  But now she has pretty earrings!  Chelsi even managed to help, despite her fear of needles (which she has somehow despite all her many piercings).  After that, it was off to the airport to catch my flight back home.
This is all the loot I got in Madrid... I have a problem!

It was a great little whirlwind trip.  Definitely a new kind of trip for me: a trip to see people only, and pretty much ignore the city they are in.  It was beautiful to speak Spanish again beyond the very elementary stuff I get to speak to the kids.  I do miss Spain: the food, the language, the spirit of it, even though I really didn't love living there.  It was funny to complain to my friends about the same old things, because the country's never going to change.  It was also great to just see my girls (and Hernan) that helped me through that really tough year.  They're great people, and I miss them.

Excluding the 22 months in which I needed to leave Spain alone after Alfonso and I broke up, I have yet to go a year without returning to Spain since I studied there.  And I imagine it's kind of always going to be that way.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Easter Eggs

No colorful dye to dip them in, but that's ok because it doesn't work so well on brown eggs anyway! I went to Anna's parents' house for lunch today, and after a delicious meal we decorated some eggs with markers. I made a bunny, a chick, a rat and cat eggs, a poem, a party, a kokopeli, and a Hungarian Parliament. Some of those were requests. It's always fun to do the things you did as a kid, even if it's differently and under different circumstances!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Icy Danube

Piroska Andras made this video of the ice on the Danube.  It captures the eerie beauty of the whole thing even better than the photos I posted a few entries ago did.  Enjoy!

Budapest Sorbet from Andras Piroska on Vimeo.


So apparently I need to contact google.  Because it seems that my blog has permanently decided to not allow me to upload pictures.  Which is incredibly upsetting, considering that I PAY THEM for the storage space.  In the meantime, blog posts have been put off and off because I can't put the pictures up that would serve to help tell the story.  Boo.

So, yes, still waiting on the post about my visit to Madrid, and now also the one about my visit to Paris.  And some random Hungary ones in between.

It's finally spring time here.  And it's beautiful, and I've been biking to work and being happy in the sunshine.  Spring time also brings planning for next year, and it seems that I will be able to teach the classes I want to teach next year!  Which is awesome: all language teaching, all the time.  I will also be coordinating the FCE prep for the program, and organizing a unified plan for English in grades 1-8.  This, in addition to continuing to teach and plan Spanish from 5-8, plus now doing so in grade 9 with the assistance of a Hungarian Spanish teacher.  I'm super psyched!

Now I just need to see about maybe negotiating a small raise to go along with all of my extra responsibilities!

Sunday, March 11, 2012


I started to write a pretty long entry about Madrid.  But my fingers are tired and keep mistyping and the photos won't load... I just get an error message.  So, instead, I will simply wish you all a happy 350th blog post.

Mandula, my roomie's cat, was in heat last week.  She spent every night for a week caterwauling and keeping me up.  She was also just generally ridiculous.  She did finally get spayed on Friday, and things are back to normal, but I think the whole week without sleep, especially after a crazy weekend in Madrid, may have broken me.  I can't stop being, well, dumb.

So I'm going to go to sleep.

Monday, March 5, 2012


I spent this weekend in Madrid.  It was a very short time, and totally dedicated to seeing friends and eating delicious things.  I will write a longer post with pictures and reflections and such in a short time.  Right now, it's two in the morning, my bag is finally unpacked, and I'm pretty much 100% ready for bed.  This post isn't going to be about Madrid, though, but about Budapest.

Budapest, like most cities, lights up its major buildings, landmarks, and bridges at night.  The floodlights switch off at midnight, and only streetlights remain after that.  Now, I have experienced those lights turning on and off countless times.  It's normal enough that we sort of use the lights to tell time when we head home across the river from an evening out in Pest.  If the lights are still on, we're being good responsible adults.

Planes usually approach Budapest from the south, crossing over fields and suburbs to land at the airport, which is itself in the southern part of the city.  It's rather uneventful, view-wise.  In the right conditions, though, planes approach from the north, flying right over Margaret Island, the Parliament, and Varosliget.  From the sky, you can see all the bridges, the castle, the citadel, the cemetery... it's always fun to see the landmarks I'm so used to all tiny below me.

Tonight, coming back to Budapest from Madrid, the two coincided.  I was looking out the window for only a few seconds at that point, and our plane was directly over the river, when one by one the lights started to switch off.  Goodbye, Parliament.  Goodbye, Chain Bridge.  Szia, Heroes' Square.  Only the boulevards remained to show me where things were.  (Well, that and the ridiculous lights outside the Arena Plaza mall.)

For some reason, this moment really struck me.  As all those beautiful things disappeared, leaving a shadow in their place, I felt a strange sort of happiness.  It should have been sad, but it wasn't.  I could still see the places I love, even if I couldn't see them, more from their lack of light than from anything else.  As each light switched off, I felt happier.  I sort of feel like I saw all of Budapest tuck itself in for the night.  And it was good to be home.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Naked people everywhere

So, as you know, I recently joined a gym. That gym includes a changing room, as most do. And everyone is always totally naked. Blowdrying naked. Chatting naked. Texting naked. I'm not talking about a lack of self-consciousness, but just a total acceptance of nudity.

People also swim in the strangest of outfits. Tiny speedos, entirely hidden under big beer bellies. Ladies swimming laps in string bikinis, then untying them in the sauna.

Body acceptance is a great thing, and I'm glad that I get to regularly see people of all shapes/sizes/hairinesses... especially in today's world of crazy photoshopping. It's nice to have a reality check, but it can lead to some awkward situations.

I recently walked into the changing room to see three of my eighth grade girls. We said hi, then stared at each other, feeling super awkward. We finally silently decided to go to opposite corners and change quickly, while resolutely staring at the wall.

I think everyone thought we were really weird.