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!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


There are a lot of shirts in Barcelona that say "I <3 BCN"  Keith keeps thinking it says, "I <3 BACON", which it probably should.  It's such a fabulous city...tragically, it is also a rather expensive city (in terms of hotels).  I found this great hotel just a few blocks from La Rambla (the main street) for 30 Euro a night...awesome, right???  Yeah...not so much. 

I first noticed the women when we arrived...hanging out in the middle of the street, talking to no one but passers by, wearing not so tasteful attire.  The same women were there still when we left post nap three hours later...and then still when we got back from dinner.  I pointed this out to Keith..."Meg, they're prostitutes." 

Oh. Really? Are you sure?  I don't turn my nose up at such a profession...I mean, there is obviously a demand--maybe not for these women since they've been standing there continuously for 36 hours now, but still...there is clearly a demand. 

Anyways, in their boredom, the woman have had some drinks...and some gentlemen have brought fireworks.  Also I think the ring leader...(pimp?) showed up...this tiny little woman making a whole hell of a lot of noise.  Drunk men with fireworks, a drunken loud pimp trying to pick fights, and drunk & bored prostitutes....all gathered right below our window.

Normally, we'd just close the windows...but it's 53295783290753829+ degrees in our room with no fan.  I'm a little cranky.  Poor Keith is exhausted and I'm cranky...I think he's sleeping, but I'm not having as much luck.  Thankfully our plans for tomorrow include drinking beer on the beach, swimming and sleeping.  :) 

The police just came through...I think the ladies of the night have gone elsewhere...

The Proposal

I wrote this blog whilst waiting for an overnight train from Bern, Switzerland to Barcelona, Spain on Monday June 27th.  I haven't had internet access since Monday morning so it's just now being posted.

June 27, 2011

The big news: Keith and I are engaged!! We all knew it going to happen and apparently basically everyone but me knew when.  I’m not very good at surprises…mostly because I’m a complete control freak—

Keith took me to look at rings back in August 2010, shortly before we left for Hungary.  I assumed I would get a ring sometime whilst in Europe.  In May we discussed said ring…Keith explained due to financial issues (traveling across Europe for three weeks in June) that there would be no ring in Europe.  I was a little disappointed because I felt like he had been hinting that he would ask me to marry him while we were still on this side of the Atlantic, but I understood.  Plus anyways, we’re together…the officialness of our status shouldn’t matter. 

As we started to plan our trip westward, Keith really was really pushing a stop or at least a day trip to Lucerne.  I LOVE Switzerland, but I felt like I’d rather see something new…and we spent a week in Lucerne in November.   
 One of the covered bridges in Lucerne, Switzerland
But this was Keith’s one request on the trip…(that we stop in Lucerne…oh, and we choose our departing Europe city based on non-stop flights to NYC), so I agreed.

Around my birthday (which was three days before we left on our westward adventure), Keith started dropping hints about a small surprise he had for me and I would get it in route.  I had no idea…I thought perhaps it was a couple’s massage or maybe a Lovers’ Lock for a bridge somewhere (one of the biggest ones is in Pécs), or maybe…maybe…small like a ring…probably not, but maybe…I was more concerned that he knew something that I didn’t know.

We arrived in Lucerne around 3:00pm and meandered about.  Keith told me that we had a dinner reservation at 7:00pm.  We went to Opus for dinner where I discovered my favorite wine the last time we visited the area.  We had fabulous food and ended up ordering two bottles of the wine with the intention of re-corking the second bottle.  I went to the WC at the end of the meal and when I came back the waitress was helping Keith pack up the wine and two of the restaurant’s wine glasses.  I was confused.  “We have to bring them back later tonight,” Keith explained.  We walked about the city, put our feet in the water and then had a glass of wine. 

We watched the water, chatted, and sipped wine.  Keith starts talking about the friendship bracelets I made for us and I show him where mine is falling apart.  While I’m inspecting my bracelet, Keith mentions something about having something that is a bit more durable or something.  The next thing I know he’s down on one knee ring in hand and says, “Will you marry me?”  I stared dumbfounded for a bit and began nodding, crying and eventually say, “Yes, I’d be honored.”  Keith responds, “Really?!”  Laughing through tears I say, “Yes.” 
Shortly after saying, "yes."

Proposal Spot...

The next day we put a lock on a fence near where he proposed and threw the keys into the water…and I cried again.  
Our Lovers' Lock

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bicycling Berlin

In middle school I learned about the key on maps and how to figure out the distance ratio.   I know how to do this and after years of traveling & getting lost, one would think that I would use this skill.  Tragically, the thought never crosses my mind...until after I've been walking for 5+ kilometers and am exhausted.  This happened to us in Berlin.

We arrived in Berlin on Tuesday morning.  We lugged our wheel-less luggage uphill and arrived at our flat around noon.  Post nap and showers, we decided to walk to the longest remaining part of the Wall, which is known as the East Side Gallery.

Keith in front of the beginning of the East Side Gallery.  The longest stretch of the Berlin Wall still standing (1.3 km)
 In 1990, Germany invited 118 artists from around the world to paint & leave messages on the wall.  Since this was the inner wall of East Berlin, such expressions of dissent (and painting the wall at all) were forbidden during the Communist period.  Walking along the wall I had mixed emotions--this city has seen so much death and destruction, but every time picks itself up and moves forward to a brighter, more peaceful future.

Part of the East Side Gallery (this painting is by an artist from the US)

A little over half way down our walk along the wall, we learned this stretch is 1.3km...we had already walked much further from our flat to the start of this stretch of wall...and had a LONG way to go to get anywhere else.

Berlin is not a walking city.

Greer confirmed this for us when we met up with him for dinner a few hours later.  He said Berlin's nickname is 'Fat B' (or something like this...but in German, obviously).  This makes sense since it was divided from the end of WWII until 1989. 

Keith and I were a bit cranky from learning our lesson the hard way.  We decided we'd rent bikes on Wednesday. 
Keith waiting for me to give him the map
Berlin is a bicycling city!! It was wonderful.  A little chaotic in the areas of construction, but still, it was great to be bicycling. 

We set off for Brandenburg Gate, the main gate to the city.  We saw some sites in the area, and then went to the aquarium. 
On the East side of Brandenburg Gate

Turtles and crocs

Sand Tiger Shark (yikes!!)

Me & some giant fish
Post aquarium, we had some wine and I had a nutella filled crepe (I will miss the nutella filled crepes)
Please note the sugar on my face...this was taken before I got chocolaty-hazel nutty deliciousness all over me.
We left for our flat from here...which is on the complete other side of the city (a world away at one time), getting back just as the thunderstorm began.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Pink Suitcase

We bought the pink suitcase (which is now stuffed with 30+ kilos of clothes and books) at one of the little shops outside of TESCO in Kertvaros because we didn't have enough luggage.  We were SO excited about how cheap it was and I was thrilled to have a pink suitcase.  We should have known it was too good to be true...it has become the bane of our trip.

In route to Vienna, we realized that the axle of Pink suitcase was bent--the reason why it was feeling heavier and heavier as we traveled.  Keith attempted to bend it back and was somewhat successful.  Monday night we took an overnight train to Berlin.  Pink suitcase didn't fit down the aisle of the train car, nor did it properly fit in our Harry Potter compartment.  Luckily no one else had seat reservations with us.

An exhausted Keith with all of our bags.
The cool part about our train...even though our luggage took up all the seats, we had beds!  I reserved couchettes for us.  The seats were below us, and the couchette beds were above them where the luggage storage shelves are on other trains.
Coming down from the beds

Keith in his bed...it folds down from the wall...the strap is attached to the ceiling for support
I slept well the first part of the night...from about midnight until 4am.  Keith was a bit too tall for the bed, but eventually exhaustion won and he did get a few hours of sleep.
Tuesday morning we arrive in Berlin.  Our system of moving all of our European possessions is still working well.  On the walk to the flat we rented in Berlin, I start struggling with the Pink suitcase (more than usual), so Keith and I switch bags.  About 10 minutes later, a furious Keith drops suitcase.  This is when we notice that wheels on Pink suitcase are completely broken.  Keith continues to drag Pink suitcase the rest of the way.  A 45 minute walk takes us 90 minutes.
An exhausted Keith outside our flat in Berlin
We keep reminding ourselves that this will be funny later....after we're moved into our flat in New Haven.  In the meanwhile though, we need to figure out what we're going to do with this suitcase.  It would be one thing if we were in our last city, but we still have 13 more days before flying to the U.S.

Monday, June 20, 2011


We don't look like we're trekking across Europe....or we look like wicked high maintenance travelers with all of our luggage...but we're moving from Hungary to the U.S. and spending a few weeks traveling in between.
Leaving Pécs
The flowers are from my student, Zéti....I didn't bring them with me...just regifted them to Beszti Eszti who gave us a lift to the train station.  By the way, the pink suitcase weighs about 30 kg...I weigh about 58.something kilos.  The other big black suitcase is a little less and then the smaller one is also a bit lighter, but not much.  We've developed a plan of attack for getting on and off the trains....but we really don't look like we're taking the trains across Europe.

The majority of the stuff in the luggage, we don't need during our travels...but we don't want to spend the money on shipping it to the U.S.

Yesterday afternoon we arrived in Vienna after spending some time with our lovely Slovak friends.  It's been surprisingly chilly and windy (which is a wonderful change after Saturday's 57482390574830 degree weather).  Today we frollicked about museums...checking out Monet, Miró, Picasso, Matisse, Klimt, and more.
Klimt's "The Kiss"
The highlight for me was seeing Klimt's "The Kiss".  Any photo I've seen of it (including this one that I stole from Google Images) does not come close to doing it justice.  It's so much bigger than I thought and the gold in the paint and the vibrancy in the colors of the patterns are so impressive and amazing. 

Currently Keith and I are hanging out at the bar in our hostel.  We have an hour until we need to gather our luggage (all 100 kilos of it) and head to the train station.  Our train leaves at 10:23pm and arrives in Berlin at 9:09am.  Greer will be there...and maybe the Frenchie...we'll get to meet up in the evening.  I hope he's still wearing his army helmet everywhere.
Meg & Greer (wearing the helmet he bought at the Pécsi Flee Market)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

You say Hállo, and I say Hello, Hállo, Hello"

I hate goodbyes…which is one reason why I particularly like that Hungarians say, "Hállo" when coming and going.

I don’t know anyone who particularly likes goodbyes, but I think Keith handles them much better than I do.  He tells me, “Our only purpose on the Earth is so spread goodness…be the best we can for ourselves and those around us…when you’re sad about saying goodbye, it means we’re doing our job well.”  

This morning was rough…I was acutely hung over and an emotional disaster.  We still had some cleaning to do since Anna and Beszti Eszti came over last night, distracting us from our to do lists.  Whilst cleaning, Keith started reminiscing… “Remember when we first got here…when we first walked into the flat and we were like, ‘Where the hell are we and what are we doing here?!’” And with that I began sobbing and didn’t stop until we were about 20 minutes outside of Pécs (which was a few hours later).

Silliness during our last night in Pécs

I met some amazing people in Pécs…I also met my fair share of weirdos, but that is to be expected. I didn’t think saying goodbye to my students would be so hard.  Some of them drove me absolutely crazy, but I’m so proud of all of them.  Zéti (the biter) was a difficult goodbye…his abilities to communicate at all have grown exponentially this year.  Yesterday morning I went to Eszter’s house to sign my quitting papers.  Emma and Emi met me at the door and said, “Hello, Meg!” (They are both almost 3 years old and in the younger group at Ladybird).  They then began singing the ABCs, which made my heart melt.  And then there are the Mexicans…I cannot even begin to express how much I love them.  Saying goodbye to Ana was really hard…so we made it short and sweet.  I know I will see them again.

We are on the train from Budapest to Bratislava/Pozsony…it’s a much prettier stretch than the ride from Pécs to Budapest.  Visiting Andrej and Nina (and Luci and Majo and Sonia) is like going home to family.  Keith and Andrej met in Moodus, Connecticut in 1998 and have remained close friends…and this was before Facebook…so I know it will be easy to keep in touch with the awesome people I met in Pécs…at minimum we’ll be able to Facebook stalk each other.

I haven’t been very good at updating the blog as of late, but I plan on being better…at least over these next three weeks.  We’re taking the trains across Europe, eventually flying out of Madrid.  I plan on writing on the train and uploading as soon as I have internet access. 

Sok puszi!