New Year’s Eve is a huge celebration in Budapest! When we arrived home on the 30th, we were greeted with a new sight – each side of the Oktogon had a temporary booth with wigs, masks, noisemakers, and various other things that somehow belong to a NYE party (including feather boas and what appeared to be Madonna-style boob cones). We heard the sound of the noisemakers and people shrieking at the top of their lungs from that moment until the early hours of January 1.
Our friends Sophie and Reiner have an amazing flat on the Buda side of town, with a two-story terrace with views of nearly the whole city. We thought it would be a perfect spot to spend the evening – this way, we could see the fireworks and festivities, but not be mobbed by the thousands of people partying in the streets. This was an excellent theory, but in practice, a heavy fog rolled in around 8 pm and never lifted enough for us to see the lights of Parliament, where they were setting off the main fireworks over the Danube. Sad face. Luckily, Richie had bought sparklers, so we were able to create our own light show.
We spent the rest of the evening toasting the new year with Hungarian bubbly and watching parodies of Gangnam Style (including both “Mitt Romney Style” and Reiner’s in-person rendition, both of which are not to be missed).
We then tried for about two hours to reach a cab company, only to get busy signals from all of them. NYE appears to be a big night for cabs in zero-tolerance Hungary 🙂 The drive home was pretty eventful, as random drunk people kept jumping in front of the car without looking. Luckily all of us arrived home safely.
The next week, we had a dinner to say goodbye to our friend Rob. Richie’s predecessor at the Firm, Katie, introduced us to Rob and Jaclyn before she returned to the US, and we’ve enjoyed spending time with them ever since. As the expat life goes, though, friends start to trickle away one-by-one… in this case, quite literally, as Rob is heading on his own to Germany while his wife Jaclyn stays behind in Budapest for work. We tried a new Hungarian restaurant for the occasion called Pesti Disznó, which is just a block or two from our flat. We officially have a new favorite to add to our list of places to take visitors, because it was delicious and really affordable. We rounded off the night with a trip to Kiadó Kocsma, a little bar down the street. The name literally means “pub for rent”, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we had a really good time. I’m sad to see Rob go 😦 But we still get to keep Jac for a little while! And since Rob will already be in Germany, he was an easy recruit for Oktoberfest next September.
While at the bar, I got a message from my sister-in-law asking if we had time to Skype with them and Richie’s parents that evening. With the time difference between here and Oklahoma, we got back to our flat just before they were leaving for dinner, and we learned some exciting news. Richie and I are going to have a little niece or nephew! Yep, Richie’s brother and his wife just learned that they’re expecting a baby, due sometime in the fall. Here is the really cute announcement they made on Facebook:
Whoever said that things would slow down after the holidays was dead wrong 🙂
As I type this, I’m experiencing my first “real” snowfall in Budapest. It’s snowed before, and our friends on the Buda side of the river generally get some snow that sticks to the ground, but on the Pest side, there’s so much traffic and activity that snow never seems to stick to the ground. Right now, though, we’ve got about a centimeter building up, and the puppies will soon go on their first evening walk in the snow-covered dog park. I fully expect them to knock me on my butt on the ice. Wish me luck.