Hi from Cafe Ebel! I am sitting in the big Cafe Ebel (opposed to my favorite little Cafe Ebel right by school) with Jenny and Alex. Jenny and I are supposed to be working on our presentation about Human Rights for our Globalization class but we decided our time was better spent blogging.
I spent all afternoon outside and I am the best mood right now. Its FINALLY warm in Prague. The Easter market is set up in Old Town Square and in Wenceslas Square. They are so pretty and make the city seem even more alive that normal. I sat in Old Town Square and read The Tweleve Little Cakes which is about a girl growing up in Prague during the 1980s. Its so interesting and I love that I know where a lot of the places are that she talks about. I watched a group of little Czech girls preform some kind of cheerleading routine to Poker Face. Talk about flashbacks to St. Ann talent shows! So adorable.
This past weekend I went to Budapest with Jenny. It was an adventure to say the least! I have never been stared at that much before. My blonde hair already makes me stand out like a sore thumb but put that together with the fact that both Jenny and I were wearing french braids and spandex leggings from our 8 hour bus ride, and that we were speaking English made us scream” hey we are American!”
Our trip started at the awful hour of 430 am on Friday. We had to be up to make it to the bus station in Prague for our 8 hour bus ride to Budapest. Say it with me, woof! The bus ride was mostly uneventful, despite being exhausted and having to deal with some very large culture differences(having to do with smells but I’ll spare you) we made it to Budapest with no problems. Its always really scary arriving in a country where you don’t speak the language, you don’t know where to go, and you have no money. Also, the Budapest metro is one of the scariest places I have ever been in. Walking around trying to find an ATM I remember thinking, why did I want to come to Budapest? I was convinced Jenny and I were not going to make it out of the metro let alone into the actual city.
Jenny and I quickly found an ATM and exchanged money ignoring the people around us trying to sell us things or just speaking Hungarian to us in general. Then we had to figure out how to buy metro tickets. I tried to explain to the man working there in English where we wanted to go but unfortunately he didn’t speak English and I definitely do not speak Hungarian. Luckily by pointing at the metro stop that we needed to get off at and some help from his friend, we managed to buy tickets. The Budapest metro is the oldest metro line in Europe and it really looks like it. The doors on the train slam so loud and hard that it almost sounded like a gunshot. After about a 20 minute ride, we got off and found our way to our hostel without getting lost. Jenny was smart enough to take pictures of a map on her camera so we used that to find our way. I am happy to report that we did not get lost once the entire weekend. Major accomplishment!
Our hostel was right by the Margaret bridge on the Pest side of the Danube river. When we first got there, the man who ran the hostel, Andrew, sat me and Jenny down and literally talked to us for almost an hour. He told us everything we needed to see and do in Budapest. He also informed us its not ” Budapest, it’s Budapesht!” He made jokes and teased us. Very entertaining. The first night we had our own room and own shower which was really nice. And the second night we shared a room with an Asian couple. Definitely an interesting experience. So after Andrew had told us everything about Budapest and everything else he could think of, we set off to do some exploring. The weather was BEAUTIFUL! I think it was the first time Jenny and I had felt warm weather in months and we were in heaven. We walked along the Pest side of the Danube river looking over to Buda. We went to this huge indoor market that was unlike anything I had ever seen before. They sold all kinds of fresh produce and meat and baked goods along with some touristy thing. So cool. It reminded me a little bit of the inside part of Eastern Market in DC. After that we had a quick dinner which was delicious. Jenny tried duck and I had some really good turkey. Way better than Czech food!
After dinner we were just going to go back our hostel because we were exhausted from our long day, but we decided that we wanted to see the city at night. We walked across one of the bridges to the Buda side and climbed a HUGE mountain and got to see the most breath taking view I have ever seen in my life. So worth the hike.
The next morning Jenny and I made our plan for the day. Definitely ambitious. We did not want to use public transportation so we were planning to walk everywhere. Luckily for us it was another beautiful day and all we wanted to do was be outside. We walked across the Margaret Bridge so that we could see the view of Pest during the day. Parliament looked just as beautiful during the day as it did the night before. We walked along the river until we came to another huge mountain. which we decided to climb. Once we got to the top we were at Fisherman Bastion; the best view of both Buda and Pest. Breathtaking, I’ve never seen anything like it. We hung around in the Old Town for a while and just started at the beautiful view. We grabbed coffee at a cute cafe and then headed to the Palace. More beautiful views.
We headed back to the Pest side to go the the Terror Museum. Growing up right outside DC I have been spoiled by all the great museums and the fact that they are free. It always shocks me when you have to pay to go inside a museum. Anyway, I thought this museum was totally worth the money. It was all about the Nazi invasion of Hungary and then the communist occupation. Stalin’s car is there! So strange to see that. It was so interesting and I had goosebumps the entire time. After the museum we got some gelato to cheer ourselves up. Then we started walking toward Heroes Square and the baths. Heroes Square was something I had been dying to see ever since I saw Alex’s pictures from his trip to Budapest; I definitely kept bugging Jenny about getting there. So glad we made it because it was beautiful. And even more beautiful when we walked back through it at night.
The baths were probably one of my absolute favorite things about Budapest. It’s almost like a big outdoor swimming pool but the water is so warm and every ten minutes bubbles turn on and give you the best massage ever. Sitting in the baths, watching the sunset, and staring at all the beautiful buildings around me it, it hit me how incredibly lucky I am. How many people can say that they have sat in the baths in Budapest? Or how many people get to study abroad? I am so grateful for this chance to travel, to learn new things and learn about different cultures, and to meet new people. Not only European people, but my friends in my program. I know that I have met some of my best friends here in Prague and they will be with for the rest of my life.
My trip to Budapest came at the absolute perfect time for me. I am so proud of Jenny and I for traveling alone and staying safe. I feel so empowered and confident after this weekend. I am in much better place than I was when I left. I fully intend to love every minute that I have left here. And I know there are not too many left. (JENNY STOP READING!) As Jenny and I sat on the metro this morning on our way downtown to go to class and run errands, it hit us that our time here is so limited. We both got so sad and I got so completely distracted that I forgot to get off the metro where I was planning to get off! It’s strange how quickly time is passing here. And even stranger to think about life going on back home without me. Orientation training is starting, my Reach Out Center program is still going (thank you Michelle!), CoreTeam is still meeting, START retreats are still happening, people still go to Boston Donuts and Bagel Time. I miss Assumption so much sometimes and would love to be there right now, but with each passing day I am more and more sure that I supposed to be here. Coming back to Prague on Sunday evening once again felt like “coming home.” Jenny and I were staring out the window and right as the bus pulled into Prague, a rainbow filled the sky. Perfection.
Tonight after class, its girls family dinner! Jenny, Becca, Sara, Sarah, and I have started the tradition of all cooking something different and then all piling in to the Sara(h)s kitchen to eat and talk about everything. Definitely one of my favorite things to do here. Love those girls!
Going to Vienna with AIFS this weekend! So excited. I will try to update again before I leave, but I think it is a good thing my blog entries have become less frequent. It means I am really “living the dream” as Kait Bevins would tell me! Sending lots of love back home, I miss you all more than ever and am so grateful for your continued support and constant emails. They keep me going!