August 30, 2007

Open

I sat huddled on the tram yesterday amid the dripping umbrellas and soggy commuters. I used the back of my bag to clear a bit of the steam off the window and stared out. I saw a little coffee shop that might provide creamy lattes that will make the cold seem more bearable. I saw a supermarket that had fat roast chickens in the window. There was a shop that sold glass and pottery twinkling in the grey lights of the rainy skies. I suddenly saw that there was so much to be seen, so many places to find.

My brain is tired after this first week of work, but as my first month draws to a close I find that I feel Ok about what is going on around me. I miss my family, I miss Yorkshire, but these are all a part of the adjustment that goes on in these first few weeks. I still feel nervous, but not like I did before. The city is cold today, and there is rain. All that means is that the feeling is cool and calm, where before it was hot and sticky.

August 29, 2007

Middle of the week

Well, I made it to Wednesday. This week I have been on a treasure hunt, played rounders, learnt first aid and been sunburnt. The people at my new work seem really nice and the school has a great atmosphere, but like at the start of every school year, I wonder where to start on getting done what I need.

Now that the routine of work has started, life in Budapest feels very different. The weather is cooler today and I will spend most of the day in meetings. A picture is forming in my mind of the next few months as the darkness sets in and I am able to pull my knee boots and long cardigan out of the wardrobe. I slept underneath my quilt for the first time since I arrived in hot Budapest and am already anticipating autumn Budapest when the leaves will all fall from the may trees that line my walk to the tram or Metro.

Another two and half days of new faces, new names and things to do before the weekend. My head is so full that I think that only then will I be able to process the next few days. It must be said that the feeling that Budapest did not feel like home disappeared the first time I got on a tram to commute to work.

August 27, 2007

Butterflies

Butterflies in my stomach and not the good kind. Yesterday I was so calm and happy. I went to the Baths and laid in the hot thermal water and relaxed. My face was turned towards the sun and that perfect moment seemed to tell me that it was all going to be OK. Today my eyes pinged open with the thought that I had no idea where I was going and I jumped out of bed to get my map again to check my route to school.

I am scrubbed, brushed and dressed and all ready to go, but the nerves are getting worse. This is the third time that I have been the new girl, the third time that I have to smile and try and make friends. After a while in a new place when you have mates that you can call upon these first few days seem like they never happened. Yet here I am in the middle of the newness and I allowed myself to forget how hard starting work can be.

I know it will be fine, I know that I am good at my job, I am aware that these days will slip past quickly. Would some-one please tell that to the butterflies?

August 26, 2007

Exploring

Yesterday I went exploring. After having a look on the internet I found that there is a Chinese supermarket near me, and not wanting to pine for the scents of Saturday night at home, I had to go check it out. It is on Rakoczi Ter, and there is another one somewhere else in the city. The place was brilliant, with all the things that I know clutter up our fridge at home. I bought noodles, chopsticks, and different dim sum, which were fabulous.

After that I went onto Szent Istavn Korut to go to a homewares place to see if there was anything that I could do with in the apartment. It was here that I discovered that shops in Budapest close early on a Saturday and mostly do not open at all on a Sunday. The streets were quiet and I wondered where everyone was. What do Budapestis do on a weekend? Leisure activities? Time with the family? The idea that shops were not open on a Saturday seemed bizarre, but I am aware that this is a very English point of view.

I start the new job tomorrow, which has come round very quickly I must say. I spent this last week pretty much alone, apart from the odd day here and there. I have enjoyed getting out and about and finding things that make Budapest feel more like home every day.

August 24, 2007

Connected

I have the internet connected! I am part of the world again! Below are just three of the pictures I have taken while out and about, there are lots more to come. I am feeling nervous as I have dinner with some of my new colleagues this evening. Budapest is hot and sticky today so off to my new favourite Baths tomorrow, lets see if I am brave enough to get any shots there...

This is the side of the Budapest Opera House, just a couple of blocks away from my apartment. I have tons of photos of this place, but thought just one at a time would do.
This is one of the entrances to a Market Hall on Hunyadi Ter.
This Hososk Tere (The Heroes Square) as seen from the top of a tourist bus

August 22, 2007

Reaching out

I arrived back to Budapest on Monday just in time to hear my neighbours having a mad party. Lucky for me, there is still no work for a few days so I am not worried. I have to say that it is nice to be back. I cried when I left K and N and the baby Godson, still love Poland, but getting on the plane was Ok and walking through the door of the flat felt nice. I have had a couple of days alone and I met M again today and her two kids, S and W. I enjoyed my coffee with them before, but I like the family even more the second time around.

Budapest is still scorching hot and I am off to cool down in the baths again tomorrow before setting myself a little mission to go and find an international food shop in my district. I went with M today to Arpad, a shopping centre at the end of the red line, which was pretty good. I had already had a wander with J and M to the mall near Nyugati station, so I feel like I am getting a feel for the place.

There are 5 days until work starts, but I feel alright about it really. As long as the heat does not stay long into September, I think that Budapest and I are going to get on like a house on fire.

August 19, 2007

Nearly normal

I fly back to Budapest tomorrow so after that things should get nearly back to being normal. Being in Budapest isn't familiar yet, so it will be a bit weird when the plane lands and I go back to my apartment. After that there is only a week before school starts and then the new routine will really kick in. I wonder when I will feel like I live there? The word home means all sorts of things to me now.

This afternoon I am baby sitting the Godson, I just can't get enough of his milky smell and scrunched up little hands on my skin. I feel really lucky that I have been able to spend time with him this week, the child is clearly highly perceptive as he lets me talk to him and falls asleep when I rock him. In the mad way that babies have of changing, I think that I can see some differences even in the week that I have been here and I don't want to leave him tomorrow.

The baby has arrived, the wedding is done, the move to Budapest is complete and all of these things just slid by without the stress I felt about each one of them when I was racing around North Yorkshire over the last few weeks. Maybe my brain will get back to nearly normal soon too.

August 18, 2007

Grown men cry

Yesterday I went to my first Polish wedding. It was a Polish/English affair actually as J is English and D is Polish. That said, her family have Polish roots so there was a real cultural mix among the guests and the wedding itself. It took place at St Annes church in the Stare Miasto, which is gorgeous and obviously named after the saint with the best name. Because the church is right in the tourist centre of the city, loads of people with cameras and maps ended up stood at the back of the church watching what was going on. It is possible that they understood a good deal more than I did as the service was in Polish and my skills are poor there.

The reception took place in Lazienki Park, which was always one of my favourite places in the city. The Restauracja Belvedera did an amazing job, the place looked idyllic and the setting was totally blissful, right in the middle of the park. I was fine all day, no sentimental tears, until J's father did his speech. He got emotional and then so did every-one else. Then D stood and did a speech in both Polish and English about how lucky his was and cried on both versions. Again, I saw the tears and it made me well up.

Overall, it was an amazing day. J and D have been friends for a couple of years, but in the end they were only together a year by the time that the wedding occurred. So wierd, I have another married friend. Seems to be the year to get married, I wonder who will be next?

August 16, 2007

Green

The streets are wide and green and the weather is perfect in Warsaw. I am finding myself jealous of those people who will arrive over the summer to take up jobs in my old school, knowing that soon they will find Poland has sneaked up on them and they love it too. It feels like I have never been away and I don't need to be reminded of why it is such an amazing city.

I met J at green coffee, I saved it for her, like an early wedding gift you might say. We sat and gazed at the Palace of Culture just like we always did and it made me feel settled. I know that Budapest is waiting for me now, wants my full attention, and she will get it. But for now, I want to enjoy Poland. In Europe, during the summer, I can forget that winters are hard and there is work to think about too come September. Who cares when you are free today and the sun is shining.

August 14, 2007

Speech is silver, but silence is golden

Sometimes when there is too much to say I end up saying nothing at all. I have at least two weeks worth of Budapest posts, but as I am back in Warsaw they will have to wait. I spent yesterday bonding with the baby and K and I went out to Zloty Terassy, the new shopping mall near the central train station in the city centre. They have been building this thing since I have been in Polska and when I left at Christmas they were about to open it a couple of weeks later.

The building is amazing, innovative, light and beautiful. I must say that when new buildings spring up in Warsaw or are rennovated, the result is usually spectacular, the Polonia Palace hotel being another case in point. The shops, cafes are bars are becoming more westernised with each new complex that opens and Warsaw is moving forwards really fast. It is still the city that I love though, and I remember how much of a surprise that was the first time round, I never expected to love Poland was much as I did. Can you be in love with two things at the same time, or does one always pale in comparison?

August 13, 2007

Baby boy

I arrived in Warsaw a couple of hours ago which it would seem is just long enough to totally fall in love with my Godson. He is beautiful and I have not made him cry yet, so he is even more endeared to me. K and N are doing well and seem to have slotted into parenthood like the naturals that I always knew they would be.

This afternoon K and I are going wedding gift shopping for J and D's wedding on Friday. Back in my beloved city again, it feels like coming home.

August 11, 2007

First thoughts

I really don't feel like I live here yet. It has been a week and two days since I arrived and I have been all over the city as the girls have been here all week and we have been super touristing every day, so I feel like a tourist. We have been to the thermal baths, the Saturday market, the Castle, a bus tour and all sorts of other exciting Budapest stuff. I feel that my first week may be lost a little in the fact that there is no regular internet access.

I keep making comparisons in my head and I suppose that it is only natural to do this. The heat has been something else and lots of late nights and lack of sleep does crazy things to my mind. I can see above all that I like this city, I'm just not in love yet, but the potential is there. I find Hungarians very helpful and friendly and most are impressed with the 5 words of Hungarian that I am able to use confidently.

The girls are on their way to the airport now and in the middle of Sunday night/Monday morning so will I be. Baby A and his parents in Warsaw as well a J's wedding will be what occupies my mind for the next week. I think that when I get back to Budapest after that will be when I bump back down to earth and the reality of my move will settle in. For the rest of today there are phone calls and packing to be done, flat needs to be cleaned and I have managed to blog again without really looking at the city. I promise some great pictures and travel tips soon though.

August 06, 2007

Arrived again

I am waiting at the airport for J and M to arrive from Manchester and their plane is delayed and I have found an internet cafe for fifteen minuutes. My little Godson arrived a few days ago and I am dying to see him very soon. You can find a picture here. Not having the internet at home means that I have only just seen the pictures myself, but K and N seem tired but happy.

Budapest is getting hotter and I did my first massive shop today in Klauzal Tér. I also went forr a walk by the big Synagogue on my way to the airport and will definitly be putting it on my list of places to visit with the girls. I will be back Budapest blogging with full force in a couple of weeks. Until then I will have to take it where I can get it.

August 05, 2007

Arrived

I got here safely and relativly easily on Thursday evening and was picked up from the airport by people from the new job. I always knew that these first few days of being alone in a big city were something to be survived, and when I am in my new flat I start to feel scared and nervous. What I was not prepared for was the giggling excitement that I am feeling when I step out the door and start exploring. I think that I might like this city and can't wait to get rid of the initial feelings of fear and replace them with feelings of adventure.

J and M are arriving tomorrow and with them brings a fresh reason to get out into the city and explore, there is only so much that feels fun when you are by yourself in a new place. I already have a trip to Varhegy Castle planned and can't wait to get them off to the Baths for a long soak again. I have had my camera with me at all times and have already taken tons of photos to put on the blog once my internet is up and running in the flat.

The things I have found out about my little area are that it was the Jewish Ghetto in World war II and I am close to the Opera house and St Stephens Basilica. I have found a few shops and have been stocking up on water and breakfast foods for my guests. I have also had a coffee with M, a friend of a friend from Warsaw, and coffee with J, a new colleague. I can also confirm that I don't think that this flat is haunted like the one in Poland, although I am feeling strange drafts when I sit in a particular place...

So in a nutshell, I have arrived, I feel overwhelmed, I am ecstatic and emptional, but feel real wonder at what I might discover in this new city. Oh my God, I actually live in Budapest now!

August 02, 2007

Travelling...

Two hours on the train. Three hours to check-in. Three and a half hours in the air. One Ipod. One 'Teach yourself Hungarian' book. See you in Budapest!

August 01, 2007

In less than 24 hours...

I will be on the train on the way to the airport. I have just been into town and done all my last minute things. J and M are all set to arrive on Monday I think and I have a coffee arranged for friday with a friend of a friend in Budapest. I am sick with nerves but these abated a little after a lovely email from my new boss telling me not to worry and confirming that some-one will pick me up from the airport.

I have my godbyes to say to N, L and S later on today and the next two hours will be spent sorting and packing everything that has laid on my bed for the last two weeks waiting to be packed, but I couldn't be bothered. Well, I have to be bothered now as I am leaving tomorrow! At least the girls are coming on Monday so I can emergency text if there is anything major that I forget. Now back to the packing and the goodbyes...