Monday, December 17, 2007

Awesome last weeks in Europe...now Home at last!

So the last bit of my stay in Europe was awesome(with the exception of final exams but by God's grace I made it through them!)...I got to go ice skating in City Park which was a blast... Then on Friday,Libby and I went back to Vienna one last time to see the Christmas markets there with Lisa, we had such a fun time...it has been so neat to experience Europe at this time of year and to see all the Christmas markets, they are such a huge part of the culture and so much fun!
We were so sad leaving Vienna and saying goodbye to Lisa...but hopefully one day we can visit again!
So then we got back to Budapest by train and I checked out the christmas market by Parliament on my way home, it was pretty awesome, Parliament is definitely one of my favorite sights in Budapest and it was so close to where we lived!
I had finals up until Thursday night so those days were pretty busy and stressful but I discovered that baking and cooking helps relieve my stress haha...and I made lots of yummy concoctions in the mean time...
On Thursday night we had our last Bible Study and it was so great, I will really miss everyone there so much but I am just so thankful that I got a chance to do it and I am so excited that it will continue in the future for the other students going over! A group of us girls stayed after and watched home alone and then by the time it was over we realized the public transportation had stopped running, whoops, haha you would think we would be on top of such things by now, we were just having so much fun so we had to walk back...I'm actually really glad we did though even though it was freezing, we were frolicking alongside the river haha and singing christmas carols along with random songs like "Thousand Miles" and some kelly clarkson songs haha....such good memories, by the time I got back I had to pack and clean up some around our place and we had been planning to go see the sunrise at the fishermen's bastion in the morning so I never really got to sleep...I took like a 2 hour nap and then we were on our way to the castle district...
(unfortunately my camera died before the sun actually came up but I'll be able to share pictures with Libby and it was kind of nice just to relax and watch it and not worry about taking pictures...)Seeing the sunrise was one of my favorite experiences, it was incredible, God really blessed us too because it was our last day and just about every other morning had been foggy and rainy but it was clear and so beautiful! I will never forget it...we brought gummy bears and cookies with us too, haha what a healthy breakfast...well then we were off to school to turn in our keys and everything, it was so sad leaving our directors Dr. Mandy and Margo, they were like our host-moms, they were so sweet and helpful, I hope to see them again someday! After saying goodbye we went to Tesco one last time and did some last minute shopping and then we went to get a kuroskulacs, a turkish honey cake for the last time, we will miss those, they are so good and they make them right there so they're still hot, my favorite is the one with hazlenuts on it! If you ever go to Budapest you cannot leave without trying one of these! Then we got the ever so popular chicken gyro for lunch and we headed back home to continue packing and getting stuff together, at around 4 it started snowing, and the snowflakes were the biggest i have ever seen, we had so much fun running around the streets and trying to catch them in our mouths! So we wanted to hike up Gellert Hill where their lady Liberty is to see the view of the city on our last night! It was incredible and quite an adventure getting there too!

Then we went to the Christmas market at Vorosmarty ter one last time and I got my last giant pretzel, I will miss those!It was such a good way to end our stay in Budapest though and I decided I have to return one day, hopefully with some of my family so I can show them around...Budapest really did become like my home away from home and I loved the whole semester, I am so thankful to have had such an experience! Now I am home safely and yesterday i had such a good time seeing family and friends and celebrating my 19th birthday, I missed them all so much and it was such a great day...I'm still getting used to the time adjustment but enjoying my nice soft bed at last, haha, those hungarians like to sleep on rocks...I learned so much though this semester about people, other cultures, myself, life....one thing I do know is I could never live that far away from my family, it would be entirely too hard, I am so blessed to have the family that I do and I'm so glad to be home where they aren't so far away!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thanksgiving in Austria

On thanksgiving Libby and I ventured off to Gaming, Austria where some of her friends are studying abroad... here's a picture of the campus, where we stayed!Gaming is a small adorable town in between Salzburg and Vienna and we had such a fun time! There was snow there which was very exciting and it the town was so beautiful, I was amazed at God's marvelous craftsmanship! We left very earlymorning by train and got there in the afternoon on Thursday...we explored the town right away, it was very cold there but I was so glad I came prepared, I looked a little goofy even walked a little funny with the many many layers I wore haha but it was so worth it! That evening the school had a turkey dinner for us and it was really neat they served us like a restaurant and everything! They turned down the lights and came out with the huge turkey with sparklers sticking out of it, it was very entertaining and yummy : ) but I must say I still very much wished I could have been home for thanksgiving...nothing can compare to being with my family and I missed all the food (like sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie : ) ) but I was very thankful that I ot to go to Gaming and meet such sweet girls, we had a blast! Oh and I forgot to mention all the students and Libby and I were dressed in our Austrian clothes haha-what fun!(dirndles for the girls, lederhosen for the guys...probably spelt that wrong though!) So after dinner we went to a little Austrian ball where we got to learn some Austrian dances, this was very entertaining haha...and we even did some polka(Grandma would be proud!), video This is a video of one of the dances the guys were trying to learn, haha let's just say there were some coordination issues, it was so funny to watch! then after this they played American music and we danced the night away : )...I think one of my favorite parts was when we practiced our mad interpretive dance skills,haha! so then the next day we slept in and relaxed, watched Sweet Home Alabama, sucha classic and played some cards and Skip Bo and of course we were all in the Christmas spirit so we had to listen to lots of Christmas music! Then we went out to dinner and got pizza, I tried the weirdest kind but it seriously was amazing and I will have to try an recreate it...it was called Nicolette and it had turkey bacon and cranberry sauce as topping, so random! Later we watched the movie "White Christmas" and almost made some chocolate chunk cookies haha...they kind of never made it into the oven, raw cookie dough is pretty addicting! So we were up until like 2:30 in the morning and unfortunately we had to leave in the morning by 5:30...man what an experience, so no buses leave that early on saturdays to take us to the station which is about a 45 minute walk away, so off we went in the dark and we got 2 girls to come along with us..but one of them had a torn meniscus and could only limp, what a good sport Amy! So we realized we may not get there on time so first Libby tries to give Amy a piggyback ride, haha that didnt last long and so plan B, Libby and I start power walking and praying and trying to hitch hike(the people in the town are very friendly!)while Amy and Ashley are behind us also trying to hitchhike knowing that would be their only chance of making the train with us...haha so we get there with only a minute or 2 to spare and thank God we see Amy and Ashley there, someone had picked them up, yay! So then we were off again on our way to Salzburg! Haha with our baggys of pesto pasta, cookie dough and oatmeal, haha, don't ask, we had a few train changes and we couldn't get seats on the train from St. Polten to Salzburg so we laid on the floor in the aisles, I imagine it was a very humorous picture...so once we got there we got to explore the city and see some of the Sound of Music sites and the Christmas markets!



here's a picture of one of the traditional things they sell, lebkuchen(gingerbread) hearts and they're all decorated with cute little sayings and pictures...they also had tons of candy and sweets, including giant gummy bears(superbars) haha!



we got to see Mozart's house too!



it's hard to see but we found the fountain from the Sound of Music and it inspired Libby and I, we were dancing all around it and in it, haha The town was so awesome and we had such a good time, oh and I was so excited I had been wanting hot apple cider so badly and they don't have it in Budapest so at one of the stands they were selling "kinderpunsch" (kinder means kid haha and it was one of the only hot nonalcoholic drinks) and it tasted just like hot apple cider! So we went to a church that night and then made our way to dinner at the Augustiner Beaustubl, where the beer is brewed by the monks, and I got a yummy burger...it was pretty cool in there because I felt like I was in a giants home, everything was huge, the clocks and decorations and of course the liters of beer, it was quite an experience...we eventually made it to our hostel later that night and it was so nice, all 4 of us got bunkbeds together and we even got breakfast in the morning! It was so nice to sleep after only an hour or two the night before! So on Sunday our friend Ashley had to return to Gaming : ( but Amy came with us to Innsbruck! I must say I have never experienced something like what I saw in Innsbruck, the alps were all around the city and it was so incredible!
They had Christmas markets there as well and a kind of fairytale land with all these fairy tale characters set up all around!






I found my knight in shining armor, haha...


...unfortunately my tummy was very upset but I'm still so glad I got to see the city...Ashley left in the afternoon and Libby and I had to wait until 9:30 that night to take a train back to Budapest...we sat in the station for a few hours and played Skip Bo(I was so glad I brought that!) then we were on our way back to Salzburg where we had a connection and about a2 1/2 hour layover until our next train!

haha or expressions say it all... Oh man that was interesting, it was like 2 in the morning...and of course I was sick...I can only look back and laugh now(I'm feeling much better!) but Libby and I almost ended up in Zurich because we were confused and thought a train was going to Budapest when it actually was coming from, oh man praise God a man told us this and we made it off the train before it left! So we didn't get back to Budapest until 9 the next morning and we were both very exhausted so we didn't make it to class but it was all very worth it and it was much more fun to sit around and watch It's a Wonderful Life , Charlie Brown's Christmas, and the Grinch(cartoon version) haha I was so excited to find them for free online! Well it won't be long now until I'm home, how crazy! This next weekend is my last in Budapest and we are going to visit the Christmas markets here and make gingerbread houses and watch Christmas movies and maybe even see the Nutcracker ballet, yay! I must say I absolutely love the markets I've seen so far and cant wait to see Viennas the weekend after this one...its such a huge part of the European culture and so worth checking out! Well I miss everyone so much and am so excited to be home for Christmas!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

One month to go...

A month from now I will be on my way home! I cannot believe how fast everything is going but I have enjoyed it so much and am just so thankful that God provided this trip for me! His timing is so perfect! Well as much as I miss family and friends I am trying not to be too homesick this last month because I know I will see them before I know it...: ) I have become so used to living in good old Budapest, it's going to be so weird coming back home and getting readjusted! Well this weekend is my second to last one in Budapest(can't believe it!) so I hope to make the best of it...next weekend isour thanksgiving break and Libby and I will be in Gaming Austria with some friends of hers, we will have a big feast there and even get to go to an Austrian ball! I hope my family has a blessed Thanksgiving, I will miss being with them! Then we will also be visiting salzburg Austria for a day and Insbroch(not sure how to spell it..?) Austria, where we'll get to see the Alps! then the following weekend we are going back to Vienna again, can't wait to see Lisa and Christian again : ) and we will be seeing all the Christmas markets there, yay! I am very excited about travelling! Well this past weekend we went to Szentendre, Hungary and then to a little town called Skanzen where we participated in St. Martin's day at the open air museum...it's called the Goose Festival...it's a tradition to eat goose and drink wine so you won't go hungry or thirsty for the rest of the year...haha I tried some goose and I can't say it was my favorite thing but I'm always up for new thing : ) After we ate we walked around the little village and there was a little farm area, I'm very glad that we went there after we ate haha...the animals were so cute! It was neat to see people dressed in the traditional hungarian clothes and go in some of the little candy shops and houses there, one house had a little brick oven where little women were baking fresh gingerbread and little kids were decorating them! I am glad we got to see more of Hungary outside of Budapest, I always enjoy the country setting, it was ver beautiful! Yesterday a group of girls and I went to Pizza hut for lunch, haha it was really fancy and the pizza was amazing as usual : ) it was kind of comforting to eat American food I must admit because we don't do it very often here!
I think something is going on with my internet connection because I can't upload any pictures, but if you want to see some from the Goose festival just check out my facebook!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A well-needed vacation : )

So this past week had been pretty overwhelming as midterms came to an end and I tried to survive for a few days on about 3 hours of sleep! but Thursday was a holiday here so we were off school and Libby and I were blessed with the oppurtunity to go spend the weekend with Lisa and Christian in Austria! The whole connection between us was kind of funny because of how random it was, Lisa knew my sister Hannah from highschool youth group at Church of the Redeemer, haha and she ended up marrying an Austrian man(Christian : ) ) who she met while she was studying abroad and now they live there! Well I had been looking forward to meeting them and I'm so glad I finally did, it was so much fun!!! This trip was so much more than I could even ask for and I'm so thankful for it!
It was so much more stress-free and relaxed than the trip to Vienna with the school and Libby, Lisa and I made many awesome memories : )...I feel likeI've known Lisa for so long even though we were only together for 4 days, haha, so I decided we are all long lost sisters!
This was my first travelling experience apart from the school and it was so exciting to be able to get on the train and go without a planned agenda, I can't even explain the feeling, but Libby and I will never forget it...Lisa and Christian were so gracious and hospitable, and so much better than a tourguide! Unfortunately Christian wasn't feeling too well this weekend but us three ladies were out exploring every day and Lisa took us all over the place,it was so awesome to experience more of the culture...and of course it was so fun to have so much girl time this weekend, can't wait to go back in December for the Christmas markets...thanks again so much Lisa and Christian for everything, you both are so sweet and I miss you already!!!

Here's parliament, such a beautiful day to explore too!




Hmm...for some reason I can't upload anymore pictures right now but they are up on my facebook page so check them out!

Some of my favorite things were...seeing the fall season, I haven't been able to experience the beauty much in Budapest but it was awesome here, walking through the parks and seeing the Belvedere Palace with all the pretty trees was awesome

We also went to the Northern part of Vienna to see the wine-gardens and then took a bus to the top of the hills, which was right outside the city and the view was breathtaking...you could see the entire city along with the mountains, really awesome and we went right as it was getting dark so everything was lit up!

We also went to the huge national cemetery there where we saw the graves of famous musicians like Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss...this was the biggest graveyard I have ever seen though, it seemed pretty endless...haha we tried to go at night because we wanted to see all the candles people had put out after all saint's day but it was locked...haha Lisa don't forget that's your next fieldtrip with your students!

We also went on a huge chocolate extravaganza at the grocery store, Spar, where Libby and I bought lots to bring home and share for Christmas, haha I think the sales clerks probably thought we were a little crazy but thats ok! I don't think we've ever had so much chocolate in our possessions at once!

Oh and I can't forget to mention our evening routine of chocolate chunk cookies, pretzels, tea and a movie(Sound of Music was especially appropriate : )), so much fun! We baked the cookies from scratch with Austrian chocolate so they were amazing of course!! Can't wait to continue our traditions Lisa!!

We went to lots of cute restaurants/cafes too that Libby and I never would have found on our own, One of my favorite things was this creamy pumpkin soup we got, we went to this brewery restaurant and we ate in this stone tunnel like thing, it was awesome!

can't forget our sausage adventures...haha there's sausage stands all over the city and these things are massive, if you order it with bread they stick it in a whole loaf, haha we finished ours though and it was very good but we were tasting it for the entire day!

We also got to see some of the Christmas decorations being set up already, seems so soon, but it is the next holiday here because they don't celebrate Thanksgiving... Can't wait to see them complete : )

On Saturday night we went to a Mozart and Strauss orchestral concert with opera singers and ballet, it was pretty awesome, and they didn't even mind that we were dressed like bums, haha, we only brought a little backpack for all 4 days so we were kind of limited in that area! Well the whole weekend was amazing and I will never forget it...God is so good, it was so refreshing for Libby and I! We both slept better than we have in awhile...for some reasons Hungarians like their beds really hard and firm so it was nice to have a softer mattress and Lisa let us use this amazing huge fluffy down comforter, I would bring one back to the States with me if I could fit it in my bags, haha! I decided I really love Vienna and Lisa and Christian too : ) and I look forward to making more memories soon...

stay tuned for pictures: )

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Prague and Vienna Adventures

Well I have been quite busy lately, finishing up midterm papers and such and Libby had some friends come stay with us this weekend which was so fun but it didn't help my procrastination, haha...I wanted to post some pictures from my trip last weekend, it was amazing!

Prague and Vienna are both such beautiful cities...Prague (Praha) actually reminds me a lot of Budapest, it's even divided by a river, it's a smaller city though, and man was it freezing there, it even started to hail one night when we were out exploring haha, what an adventure! Getting to Praha was also quite an adventure, we took an overnight train and it was my frist train ride ever! It was so cold though that I didn't sleep more than like 10 minutes...I think I definitely liked the train ride to Vienna much better, overnight trains are not my preference but I'm glad I got to try it out!
we went to the top of the astrological clock tower in the city square and the view was incredible!



Just like Budapest the city was beautiful at night and the architecture was so neat...

We visited tons of beautiful churches too...



I loved the horsedrawn carriages in the city, we saw a wedding going on one of the days and the newly weds went away in one!

Our train ride to Vienna was only like 4 hours- it was so beautiful because we passed through a lot of land and the trees were changing colors, once we got there we went to our hotel, the Carlton Opera, doesn't that just sound fancy? haha well it was very nice and Vienna was like a dream, it all seemed so unreal because the city was like perfect, it was very clean and people were very friendly, (I think they cloned Mozart, haha, because he was all over the city and this one was on his cell phone!)

I guess in Budapest their history really has affected the city today, they've only been their own country for 17 years now and there seems to be a lot more poverty and homeless...In Vienna things were very expensive though compared to Budapest because they use the euro, it made me very grateful when we got back to Budapest! Walking around the city at night was so fun, the first night we went to a restaurant and Libby and I tried sauerkraut and schnitzel and this french toast dessert thing, it was amazing! Shops seem to close fairly early in the city though so we decided to go church hopping because they were all still open, it was so neat to be in them at night when it was so peaceful and empty, some were just lit with little candles, but the whole time I had to keep pinching myself because it felt so much like a dream...the desserts and chocolate in Vienna were one of the best experiences, haha I will definitely have to bring some of the chocolate home! We visited lots of neat places too like the Schonbrunn palace and gardens, we got a tour of it and it was massive, I can not imagine living in a place that big! we also went to this neat art museum where we got to see lots of italian paintings and we even saw some of Rembrandts paintings!



We went to lots of little cafes and I must say if anybody goes to Vienna you have to try the apple strudel and the sacher torte! Well I am so excited to be going back to Vienna tomorrow morning, we leave for our 3 hour train ride and we get to stay with Lisa, my sisters friend, and her husband Christian, can't wait to finally meet them! I am definitely looking forward to relaxing some too, it's been a stressful week so I think this will be a nice little vacation! We had another bible study tonight and I just feel so blessed, God always provides, I am so thankful to have found a church and be able to fellowship with other believers, its definitely encouraging...Lately figuring out my next semester and scheduling and all that has kind of been overwhelming but I know that God is directing my paths and it will all work out, my lovely momma reminded me of the verse Psalm 32:8 which I've been meditating on, such a great truth to remember...well I am off to finish packing and then get some rest before my trip tomorrow, yay!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Midterm madness!

This week was midterms, only one more tomorrow, yahoo! Then I'm off to Prague and Vienna tomorrow night, I am so excited : ) We are going by train(another first for me) and then we'll come back Tuesday night because we're off school for our fall break, what a blessing! I was so excited about the new addition in our family...Naomi Joy : ) Congrats Hannah and Enoch, she is so precious, I've been praying and I'm so glad everything went smoothly, I can't wait to meet her!!!
Well Libby and I have continued to experiment in our kitchen and have ended up with some interesting but delicious creations...I think I definitely take after my mama in this, she always has quite an imagination, hehe :) Oh and we just bought some new pets Basil and Rosie(Rosemary)...haha, we were very excited about this because they are our first fresh herb plants, but we have to ask our neighbor to watch them for us while we're gone!
Oh more exciting news too.. we met with the youth pastor today and we are starting the young adult bible study next wednesday night, so keep us in your prayers! I love you all and miss you...
~For some reason I couldn't post any pictures, my internets being weird but hopefully it will be working after my trip!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Weekend Adventures...

So thursday evening after a fun salsa dancing class Libby and I were feeling adventurous and we decided to try this instant hair color we had bought, it didn't really bother us that none of the instructions were in English, haha...well around the city one of the most common hair colors is this reddish color they like to refer to as "ruby red" haha...it's not very natural looking but very popular nonetheless, so I decided to try this color, finding comfort that if anything went wrong I'd probably just fit in with many of the other women : ) well Libby tried this purplish color but since her hair is darker than mine it hardly showed up...mine on the other hand turned out quite interesting! After leaving the color in for about half an hour you are supposed to rinse it out(we think) and so we did that and some of it came out completely so my head ended up being kind of a funny mix of blond and pinkish-red...anyways it was pretty entertaining!

After that we all decided to bake some homemade Hungarian "thumbprint" cookies and by this time it was about midnight...they turned out amazing and they were so simple to make, instead of using jelly for all of them we used different kinds of chocolate so this made them even better(I will have to make these for everyone at Christmas!), then after enjoying quite a few and reminiscing of christmas and holiday pastimes we watched "Singing in the Rain"...well atleast I did, some of us fell asleep ; ) haha...what a night though! On Friday we went to St. Stephen's Basilica, which is this huge cathedral built over the course of half a century and completed in 1905...and we got to see the mummified right hand of St. Stephen that was brought there by the Hapsburg empress in 1771 after being discovered in a Bosnian monastery...it was interesting, the cathedral was huge though and the structure inside was so intricately detailed...We then decided to venture off to one of the other malls, Mammut(which literally means mammoth!) and they even have mammoth statues around it, haha...and we looked aound for a good bit but couldn't explore the entire thing because it was 7 floors! Later we went out and ended up dancing to music like "celebration" "can't touch this" and "stayin' alive" haha, good times! Today Amanda, Didi, Libby, and I decided to go to the Budapest zoo! I loved seeing all the animals, and Libby and I decided we want to share a farm later in life, and mom I still want to herd goats!
Can't you see the resemblance..?

The zoo also had a petting zoo with horses, goats, roosters, geese, sheep, and this funny wooly pig...haha I had to get a picture of him...
On the way back we got one of the common street treats of Budapest, called Kurtoskalacs or chimney cakes, it was very tasty and it happens to be the oldest Hungarian pastry and it was influenced by the Turkish...it was originally made by wrapping the dough around chimney pipes, so the actual pastry is like a hollow shape, yum!
I'm kind of feeling a little under the weather though so I'm going to rest tonight and have lots of tea and vitamin c, hopefully I'll feel refreshed tomorrow!