June 29, 2008


I have not really seen enough of Athens to be able to tell you what sort of a city it is, but I know that I like the vibe in the city. I am browning like a Yorkshire girl being roasted on a spit, even though I am all about the safety in the sun. Now that school is finished, my body is screaming for sleep, but it can't have any yet. This is due to the intense Athens heat, and the continued 6.00 am wake up calls for the training course I am on.

I just want to be by the pool, and the Greek sun at this time of year seems to burn you before you even get a chance to blink its rays out of your eyes. Stood by the road last night, loaded with water and pop from the gas station over the road, I was struck by how random my life is sometimes. A couple of days ago I was in my apartment in Budapest and now I am sweating in Athens. Funny where life takes you sometimes.

June 27, 2008

Catching the sun

Yesterday was a day spent in Palatinus on a school trip and when I got back to school, more than one person told me that I had caught the sun. Even through what appeared afterwards to be misapplication of factor 30 suncream, I loved being outside and as I sit here on my last day of the school year, I feel golden inside and out. I haven't packed for Athens yet and this time tomorrow I will be getting into a taxi for the airport, but there are goodbyes to be said, gifts to be given and students to see off for the summer. When I am back in my apartment this afternoon I will know that the next part of the summer will need to be focused on, just not yet, it's too much.

June 24, 2008

Heat shimmers

The heat in Budapest is really quite something at the moment. Three days away from the end of school and all that anyone talks about is how much they are sweating, or how sleep is impossible. It makes me happy that I get two weeks in mild North Yorkshire before heading back into the endlessly sunny Spain for my two week holiday later on in July. Sports Day, and all the stuff that is associated with the end of term is all curled around keeping the kids and staff in the shade.

Even though there are clouds in the sky the whole of the outside shimmers with heat, like the haze of the desert in 'Easy Rider'. I am spending all the time I can in rooms with air con, the colder the better, and when I go home after work and open the windows all I can feel is the blast of a hot hairdryer in my face. My skin has started to gently turn a healthy brown under the suns glare and I have made sure to pack my factor 30 for my week in Athens.

I'm winding down gently and hope that I am able to be rested enough to get the most out of our holidays. I am tearing through some of the books that have lain untouched on my shelf this year so that I have an excuse to be able to buy some more when I get home to stuff in my Spain-bound suitcase. For now I just wish that I could see through the haze.

June 23, 2008

Leaving a light on

K went back on Sunday afternoon and shattered as I was after our weekend in the sun, she left a little light on behind her. Now I am facing my last week at work and as the days close around my first year in Budapest I find that I can't slow down just yet. I have my suitcase open on the floor with a few things thrown in ready for Athens, giving me the slight illusion of being organised. There are loads of things to do before I have my week away then fly home, but all I want is some sleep.

It seems strange to think of 5 whole weeks away from my little apartment and I am sure that the summer will fly by in a haze of friends and familiarity in North Yorkshire. Often, home is what I dream about and I simply cannot wait to be sat at the kitchen table with my brothers and parents waking up to a cup of strong Yorkshire tea and some company.

This year has gone by fast and I am cheered by the prospect of being a returner, not the new one any more. This summer promised to be full of sunshine, soft summer skin and relaxation. I just need a few more days before the reassuring weight of free time will come to rest upon my shoulders.

June 22, 2008

Being a pest in Buda...

I'm sitting at Anne's desk in her bedroom, typing on her laptop as the minutes tick away and my flight gets nearer. Soon, too soon really, I'll be going back home to Warsaw, to my boys and to my life there.

All weekends go by quickly but this one's really flown by. Before I've had a chance to get comfortable, I'm chucking stuff in my suitcase again and checking that my passport's in my bag. I've really enjoyed my time with Anne and I've loved chatting with her. No subject's too big, no subject's too small. Every time I am with her, it becomes plainly obvious just how I miss her presence in Warsaw and in our daily lives. Each time, my brain schemes up a plan to get her back to Warsaw. But she'll stay in Budapest for now.

And what can I say about Budapest? It's been called the Paris of the East and it's not too far off. The architecture is stunning and it's amazing how great "Eastern" Europe can look when it's not been destroyed by war. The buildings do need a little love and care and paint, but you see the beauty that was once there. With a little more money, Paris of the East can shine again.

We went to the covered market and took the tram along the Danube (the Danube! Europe's gorgeous ribbon of water!) looked at Buda. We splashed in thermal baths, people-watching, discussing the stag parties and the passionate couples. We visisted the House of Terror and we cooked great food and talked late into the night. Today we visited the castle district, which is gorgeous but very touristy and had a lovely coffee and cake. The little I've seen of Budapest has made me want to come back with N and A. It is a beautiful place.

But, for now, I pack my suitcase, say good-bye and head back home. I wish I could pack up Anne and take her with me. Maybe next time...

June 17, 2008

Note taking

K arrives on Friday and I am all ready for her, emotionally if not physically. I know that she reads my blog, so she should get herself ready for a couple of Budapest days by remembering to bring a swimming costume and some comfy walking shoes. I have plans on Saturday for a leisurely breakfast followed by a wander around the covered market, lunch at the Tapas bar before we are off to the Terror House, which I have actually never been to. Sunday morning, Thermal Baths before a nice lunch and then back to the airport. Seems like it is already passing before my eyes, is there anything that I have missed? I am hoping that we might have the energy to have a wander around the Castle at some point on Saturday. Budapest in 36 hours, can it be done without personal injury? K is about to find out.

Naturally, the actual aim and of the little trip is to gossip and drink coffee in our pyjamas, give K a chance to get some sleep and eat nice food. I just want to be prepared for the touristing extremes just in case.

June 15, 2008

Sex and the rainy city

Last night 9 of us girls hoiked ourselves into the middle of Budapest no-where otherise known as MOM Park mall to see Sex and the City. This is the only cinema in the city that is not showing the dubbed version of the film and we have all been waiting for a night when we are free and could go and enjoy the film together. Two and half hours of bliss followed and the film was everything that I wanted, I could have watched another two hours of those characters and not felt the time at all.

The trip home was not so successful with C and I having a mammoth 1 and half hour journey back into the land of the living in our little Pest district that never sleeps. I returned home sopping wet and seemingly happy that I live in the coolest part of the city. Margit Hid felt like Brooklyn bridge, and I felt like the downtown Carrie to the Brooklyn Miranda.

Today I am happily sitting in silence reading 'Never let me go' by Kazuo Ishiguro, which has been on my reading pile for a while. Nothing else to do but listen to the cars go by, the click of heels on the pavement and find out where the story leads me.

June 14, 2008

Romance in every day things

I am back after another three day trip to the Hungarian countryside, this time a school trip around the Balaton. We visited Tihany, and went to a Monastery on a hillside overlooking the Lake, we went to Taploca and I rowed a boat through an underground cave lake, and we spent time in Sumeg, where I shot a bow and arrow. This year, the trips I have been on with the kids just seem to get better and better and the children that I have been away with are incredible human beings that it has been an honour to get to know and spend time with.

This trip was amazing, the parts of Hungary that I got to see have made me a little more comfortable with the place that I live and whether the next few months are a swansong, or if they are the beginning of something longer, the trips the last couple of weeks mean that I will be able to put into context my life in Hungary, which is something that has elluded my experiences here so far.

I am finding romance in every day things, even on a school trip. Some of the teachers paid a violinist to come and play for me, which was mortifying, but brilliant. I got to watch sunsets over a medieval castle, and see the students fall in and out of love in a day, even though they are only 10 years old. These trips make me so tired, as there is so little rest and sleep involved, but I have come back from both of them feeling refreshed and happy.

June 09, 2008

The White Album

I never really caught up on my sleep after the last school trip and now I find myself standing on the edge of another one. Not for the first time in my life, my brain is teeming over with thoughts that float around and will not be moved on, no matter what I do. All I want is some quiet time, sleep and the space to sort my head out, none of these things are synonymous with taking 30 odd 10 year olds on a three day sleepover.

This time, we are off to a town near Balaton Lake. As with the last trip, I am looking forward very much to scooting out of the city and bus rides never fail to make me happy. I remember buses in Warsaw and Paris, I never wanted to stop staring out of the window and see which road the bus would drive down next. I have no idea how I thought that I would get away with two trips off with the kids in the last month of work without some serious damage to my already school year exhausted body and mind.

June 06, 2008

Beauty and the Bagracs

Seriously, when do you go three days with washing your hair, looking in a mirror or smelling of earth and fire smoke? As soon as I arrived on camp I seemed to transform into a model of a woman of earth, spending all my time next to the fire cooking gulyas and huge pots of hot chocolate for the 30 odd kids we took with us.
The sky never looks so clear, or the air feel so good as it does when you are outside and far away from the towns and cities where I spend so much of my time.

I am still incredibly tired, three hours sleep is apparantly not enough and two days after camp I still had my usual school wake up time of 5.50 am, so the weekend looming like a glorius white horse over the edge of a hill is a sight more welcome than that of dry clothes after we got soaked. Mind you, at Visegrad Castle I saw the sight pictured below, which made everything burn into my memory. This was one of the best school trips I have ever been on. If I can just get some sleep, I can start packing for the next trip on Wednesday to Sumeg.