Friday, November 30, 2012

Two Year Hungarianniversary

Last September marked our second full year in Budapest. To belatedly mark the occassion, I am sharing the following truths I now hold to be self evident. And it only took me two years to accept and appreciate these things!   Here are my observations and pics of my favorite spots around town.
#1:  While it is no buttercream, marzipan, done right, can be delicious icing and, for the sake of appearances, easily beats fondant.
#2:  Socialized medicine can be scary, but at least people, especially very little people, who desparately need medical care are getting it. We are lucky to have private doctors here, but sweet P had to have a minor, but medically necessary surgery performed by a state doctor at the main children's hospital. We learned a lot that morning.

#3:  The deposit system for grocery carts (insert coin in cart & get coin back upon cart return) is smart. I have never had to remove abandoned grocery carts from around my car in a parking garage (notice I didn't say "lot").
#4:  While Nutella is certainly not a substitute for peanut butter, it bests peanut butter in every respect.

#5:  Want to be treated like a queen everywhere you go? Take a baby with you.
#6:  Want to be scolded by every old lady in town? Take your baby out without a hat on.

#7:   The Soviet reign is over, but it will take generations to erode the stigma. We once got our car stuck in the snow going up the steep hill on our block. The neighbors all looked out the windows and then drew their curtains tight. Maybe they thought it was some kind of trap? I don't know, but I do know that Hungarians had to watch everyone, particularly their neighbors, during the Soviet rule.

#8:   Everyone likes Western music & movies. I was recently shushed by my fifty something cab driver so he could sing along to some Rhianna song about diamonds. That said, Eastern music is catching on. There seems to be no stopping the rotation of Gangnam Style here.

#9:   Just because someone says they do not speak English does not mean they don't know English. They just aren't going to be speaking it with you. See number 5 for a different result. Note, I tried to learn Hungarian. I really, really tried.
#10:  Ikea is your new Target.

#11:  Most of the streets are wide enough to accomodate golf cart traffic. Tuck in your side view mirrors and hope for the best.
#12:  The United States has absolutely pitiful maternity leave. Most European countries give mothers a year or two... with pay even! The women here practically choke when I tell them that American women get six weeks, unpaid, by law. Hungarian maternity leave is three years, partially paid.

#13:  There is a good chance that, unless you are a recognized regular at a store or are carrying a baby, that a clerk checking you out is not going to be particularly kind to you. It's not you, though. That's just how it is. Pay, bag items and leave.
#14:  If a Hungarian waiter tells you something is too spicy for you, trust him and order something else.

#15:  The "Right Hand Rule" might as well be replaced with an "Every Man For Himself Rule."   For most intersections, there won't be stop signs or traffic lights. In theory, you are to yield to the driver to the right. In practice, when multiple cars approach an intersection, the most impatient driver wins.
#16:  If you stumble upon a drive through McDonalds, ATM, etc., make a note of it. It's the only one in town.

#17:  We are SO LUCKY to be living here. I get misty eyed every single time I cross over the Danube at night. Budapest is a beautiful, beautiful place full of wonderful, wonderful people (see #13 for the exception).  

Excited and grateful for another year in beautiful Budapest!


  1. So glad yall are having this wonderful adventure! We miss yall!! Any chance Bill could get an ex-pat assignment in Hungary and we could be neighbors? :)

  2. We miss y'all too! I have told Russell this countless times... the day we move back will be the day we find out Bill or Malcolm has accepted a position here. It would just be too perfect if we could be here at the same time!

  3. LOVE all of these! i lived in Hungary for only a semester but i was nodding my head along in agreement with these all!!! :)

    1. Hi Liz, I'm sure you miss it, but nice to know not much has changed since you left, huh?!

  4. Love this post! Well, I am ready for you to be back to the states!! Miss my Meryl!!...oh we have a nice little grocery store here, Aldi's (which is like a Switz. run store, they are chains btw) and you have to put a quarter in to get your buggy, it is wonderful to have no buggies in the parking lot!...its amazing what one little quarter will do, I am always like, I have to put my buggy back so I can get my quarter, lol :)!

  5. So happy to have found your blog! I loved your roundup (I too think Nutella is better than peanut butter) and I agree that maternity care in the States is terrible. Its one of the reasons I decided to stay home with my kids.


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