Keith and I are picking up to move to Pécs, Hungary for one year. He has never been to Europe and the furthest east I've been is Switzerland.... Our Hungarian language skills are...well, we know some phrases. Come follow us on our adventure!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


I assumed I'd be unable to fulfill my wanderlust desires post returning to the U.S....oh, how wrong I have been...

Ten days after returning to the U.S. (and driving back and forth between New Haven and Keith's parents' house to retrieve our belongings), I flew to Greenbay, WI to visit my parents in Sisterbay.  I spent a few lovely sweltering days there before my mom and I drove the 5.5 hours to Byron, IL.  After being in Byron for not even 24 hours, my dad flew us to Southern Illinois.
Jim Black & his beloved airplane

Bringing Debbie out of the hanger
 Let's face it - Jim Black is awesome.  He loves my mother to a degree that is almost obnoxious (they've been married for 29 years now), owns his own law firm, has his pilot's license, and is a huge nerd - which fulfills my nerdiness when I can't find said fulfillment elsewhere.  I think he is brilliant....

It's been several years since I flew with him - I was THRILLED!  And then....the airplane wouldn't start.  No big deal, the battery was dead - we just had it jumped like a car.  Like a car we don't need the battery once the plane is started.  It'was rather exciting.  :)
The beloved Debbie / Bonanza

Greenville, IL airport
When this photo is zoomed in a ton - my grandparents' car is visible.  They came to see us off.  P.R., my maternal grandfather, LOVES that my dad lands at the airport three miles from the grandparents' house.  Since my grandmother stopped cooking - which therefore means you are no longer at risk of diabetes type two just by visiting - my dad loves flying down and visiting.  My mom, my dad, and I had a great time visiting the maternal grandparents....age and dementia have a very humanizing effect on people - which as a grandchild, is a really important aspect of life to experience. 

When my dad flew my mom and I back to Byron...we didn't quit make it all the way there.  About 15 minutes out from the airport, my dad said that there was a line of thunderstorms in between us and the airport - at this point I was about to vomit everywhere....so Trisha B and I opted to land.  My dad flew the rest of the way (he found a tunnel between the storms) and then drove an hour to pick my mom and I up and then drove us home. 

Five days later I had the honor of driving my tiny red car 17 hours back to New Haven, CT...alone.

I know I haven't been in the U.S. for even a month yet - which means this sentiment will probably change soon - but I look forward to not having to move again for a long time....

...I give this feeling another month or two...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pedestrians of Pécs

Yield to girls with bows walking with an older brother?  Vienna, Austria
As my Facebook friends know, I had a slight obsession with photographing street signs throughout Europe.  My European friends often asked me, "Are they really that different?" while Keith kept telling me, "Meg, you cannot stand in the middle of the street, even if it is to take a photo." 

Well, I'm here to show you how different these 'yield to pedestrian signs' varied not only from the U.S., but from each other (in the same city) too!  And to show Keith that nearly getting ran down by a car(s) was well worth it.

Yield to Roley Poly Children Pécs, Hungary
Yield to these goofy looking silhouettes Pécs, Hungary
Yield to Fathers with Daughters Pécs, Hungary
Yield to aggressively helpful men with their woman Pécs, Hungary
Yield to the Family Circus Children...?  Pécs, Hungary
Okay...This one someone spray painted near Babits...I just thought it was funny. Pécs, Hungary
I think this girl's head looks like a lollipop  Ljubljana, Slovenia
This one is just out of control....Ljubljana, Slovenia

Yield to Athletes Only  Pécs, Hungary

Monday, July 4, 2011

Bacelona Sants Estació - La Pesadilla

We just arrived at the Barcelona Sants Train Station for the third time during our stay here…and this isn’t the train station where we arrived.  After our debacle of spending four hours here on Friday and not getting to go anywhere, we decided it would be smart to book our seat reservations yesterday on our way to the beach.  There is a line for advanced ticket sales and a line for ticket sales for trains leaving that same day.  We figured the advanced ticket sales line would probably be about the same length—we would be in and out in an hour and have seat reservations for Monday. 

We took a ticket, number 532.  We looked at the screen, #276.  This cannot be right…it just can’t. There are not 250 people waiting around here.  We sat and we waited and we waited and we sat…for FOUR hours.  Finally at 5:00pm our number was called.  We get up to the ticket counter to reserve our seats to Madrid… “Necesito sus InterRail.”  (I need your InterRail passes)  WHAT!?  No one has needed these for past seat reservations!!  No one asked for them when we were making seat reservations to Valencia…FROM THIS SAME STATION…TWO DAYS AGO!  We fought and complained and then the ticket sales dude said that when we come back with our InterRail passes, we can cut the line.  Just in case he might accidentally forget the two tourists who were yelling at him, I took another number and waited at the train station while Keith ran to hotel to get out passes.  

Ticket number 897.

An hour later, Keith returned with our InterRail passes.  He seemed hesitant to try to cut the line, but I said I would talk to the ticket sales guy, which worked out fine.  Ticket sales guy apologized for the inconvenience and I apologized for yelling at him (all of this took place in Spanish). 

At 6:30pm—five hours later—we left the train station with our seat reservations in hand.  Since we hadn’t eaten all day, we ate at the first place we found—which was terribly over priced but fabulously filling and headed to the beach. 

17 hours later, we are back at the train station.  Our train leaves at 1:00pm, getting us into Madrid around 3:00.  We will take three different Metro lines to our hotel on the complete other side of Madrid.  It’s close to Madrid’s Barajas Airport and provides a free shuttle service to the airport.  Our flight is at 11:45am Spain time and we will be in NYC at 1:30pm EST tomorrow.

photos to come

Saturday, July 2, 2011


"1. Laugh when people tell a joke. Otherwise you might make them feel bad.

2. Laugh when you look into a mirror. Otherwise you might feel bad.

3. Laugh when you make a mistake. If you don't, you're liable to forget how ultimately unimportant the whole thing really is, whatever it is.

4. Laugh with small children… They laugh at mashed bananas on their faces, mud in their hair, a dog nuzzling their ears, the sight of their bottoms as bare as silk. It renews your perspective. Clearly nothing is as bad as it could be.

5. Laugh at situations that are out of your control. When the best man comes to the altar without the wedding ring, laugh. When the dog jumps through the window screen at the dinner guests on your doorstep, sit down and laugh a while.

6. When you find yourself in public in mismatched shoes, laugh -- as loudly as you can. Why collapse in mortal agony? There's nothing you can do to change things right now. Besides, it is funny. Ask me; I've done it.

7. Laugh at anything pompous. At anything that needs to puff its way through life in robes and titles… Will Rogers laughed at all the public institutions of life. For instance, "You can't say civilization isn't advancing," he wrote. "In every war they kill you in a new way."

8. Finally, laugh when all your carefully laid plans get changed; when the plane is late and the restaurant is closed and the last day's screening of the movie of the year was yesterday. You're free now to do something else, to be spontaneous… to take a piece of life and treat it with outrageous abandon."

-- Sister Joan Chittister, originally published in her book, There is a Season

Friday, July 1, 2011


 I'm sick of being 'homeless' and traveling with all of my European possessions.  We arrived at the train station today with plans to take the 12:00 to Valencia (far away form my loud prostitute friends).  This train station is more hectic than O'Hare Airport...seriously.  By the time we figured out what line to stand in for seat reservations, it was almost noon.  No big deal, we'll just take the 14:30 train.  Kieth comes back with the seat reservations 45 min later....the first available train we can get on is at 20:30.  So we have 8 hours to kill at the Barcelona Sants train station.  Our original plan was to go to Madrid--luckily we changed said plans because all trains to Madrid are sold out until sometime tomorrow...

Barcelona - minus the loud ladies of the night - has been wonderful.  We've meandered through the Park Guell, Gothic Neighborhood, La Rambla, enjoyed excellent beach days, and other adventures.

...several hours later....

We gave up on waiting at the train station.  Seriously, it was more hectic than O'Hare airport, which was making us both twitch.  We wouldn't have arrived at our hotel until midnight either....so we canceled the hotel, only paying for the first night as a cancellation fee and found another hotel in Barcelona.  We'll be here until Monday. 

This new hotel is great.  We have a.c., a terrace, free wifi in the room, and zero loud people.   

I"ll post photos once I find the cord that connects my camera to my computer.

Lucerne and Trains

Post engagement night, Keith and I spent the day paddling around Lake Lucerne.  It was awesome.  We both went for a short swim, but the mountain water was wicked cold and we both sunk about a foot deep into sand when we stepped on the bottom…it was so gross. 
I can touch the bottom the lake here, but it was too gross
That evening we took the train to Bern and from there an overnight train to Barcelona.  The sleeper cars were 159 Swiss Francs a person, so we were forced to ride in coach.  It looked great!  The seats reclined, there was loads of legroom, and we both thought we’d actually get some sleep.  The entire night was a disaster.

Before the night was frustrating

Around midnight we stopped in Geneva, were about five other people boarded our car. The lights in the car were dimmed and most people were sleeping or pretending to sleep.  Two middle-aged women “sat” in the seats right behind us.  They were so loud.  My seat wasn’t reclined very far because by this point I realized the full reclining capabilities of my chair just caused me to slide out and it was more comfortable “sleeping” sitting up.  Even though the women had  more legroom than other people had due to my sleeping situation, they still tried several times for force my seat into the complete upright position.  After this (which they tried again later in the night), they went around the other passengers, poked them until they woke up.  The women wanted their blankets and water…I think.  This continued on and off throughout the night.

The other bit of excitement was when a guy got kicked off the train for not having a passport.  Since Switzerland isn’t part of the EU, we needed to present our passports.  The man looked like he was from the sub-Sahara.  At first it sounded like he gave the woman papers that weren’t his and then he kept saying (in poor Spanish) that he needed more time to look for his passport.  He was given until morning.  Somewhere in France police officers boarded the train and demanded this man’s papers.  When he couldn’t present his documentation, they took him.  The man put up a fight…grabbing things on the train to keep him from being kicked off. 


Back tracking a bit…I didn’t blog about Freiburg or what else we did in Lucerne because I felt the engagement was a bit more pressing/exciting.  On Friday, June 24th, Keith and I took the train from Berlin to Freiburg to visit our friend Steffi. 

Steffi studied at Central Connecticut State University during the 2009-2010 academic year.  We met in the Modern Language Office whist tutoring language students.  She’s loads of fun, loves the Cheesecake Factory, and squirrels. 

Freiburg is beautiful…super cute university city with about 200,000 people.  There are little waterways everywhere and EVERYONE seems to ride bicycles.  I never really had much interest in going to Germany, but I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly people were and how beautiful it was in both Berlin and Freiburg.
View from Steffi's flat

Friday night Keith stayed in and Steffi and I went out for drinks.  It was great to catch up…also, she is a FABULOUS hostess (eh, hem…Nicole, this entire post is to get you to visit hehe). 
Romantic breakfast for three

On Saturday, Steffi took us to a small town further into the Black Forest called, Titisee. We bought a bottle of wine, rented a rowboat and Keith paddled us around the lake. 

Meg & Steffi on Lake Titisee
Keith rowing some lovely ladies around the lake