Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One Last Look at Tallinn Estonia

We arrived back in Budapest last night. We went to the market today and stocked up on on food before everything shut down for the holiday. We are heading out to the streets tonight where Budapest will turn into a big street party!

Our last day in Estonia we spent in Old Town. We walked around looking at shops, having a coffee and hanging out with Katlin and Kail. We had such a nice time in Estonia. Being away from family during the holidays is hard. Spending time with our friends in Estonia made it a bit easier. We can not thank the Kruusmaa's enough.

Here are a few photos from our walk around Old Town Tallinn...

old town meets new town
Tallinn Christmas Market
Kail and a wolf who was selling sheep skin rugs.
He swears he didn't kill the sheep....he is a "good wolf".
Birds on the street
Steven, Kail and Katlin
Getting on our connecting flight from Prague to Budapest.
Until tomorrow...have a safe and Happy New Years Eve!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Kail - Will Hula Tüdruk

Enjoy this short video of our friend Kail as she
plays a Hula Hoop game on her Wii.
video

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thank goodness for Skype!

We thought it most appropriate to celebrate the fact that Skype exists since it was developed in Estonia. Skype really takes time and space and reduces it down to a simple (and free!) video call. Family and friends appear so much closer especially during holidays.

If you haven't yet discovered Skype this is our shameless plug for you to download the (free!) software and give us a call (our Skype names are dianekappa and sgreimann).

Spending Christmas Day with Grandma and Grandpa.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Top 10 things to do on Christmas Day

  1. drink coffee and eat kringel for breakfast
  2. play ping pong
  3. visit with family and friends
  4. eat
  5. go ice skating
  6. read
  7. watch a movie
  8. eat again
  9. drink cognac
  10. talk on skype with family
Diane ice skating on Christmas Day
(she can not remember the last time she ice skated)
video


Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

We are having a great time in Tartu (Estonia). Tiiu and Guido have been great hosts. Here are some photos to give you an idea of what Estonian Christmas is like...

Guido decorating the tree last night
Silver and Steven playing Ping Pong earlier in the dayTiiu making Kringel
Kringel is a delicious braided bread with apples, raisins, oranges and spices.
A tasty dessert. I am looking forward to eating a big piece tomorrow with my coffee!
Kringel, fresh out of the oven!Kadi and Tiiu cooking while the men...
watch TV (actually the scene from Christmas Vacation when Chevy Chase imagines a swimming pool in his backyard with a beautiful woman taking off her bikini ....hmmm)
Pork with fruit!
Diane watched Tiiu make this last night.
Steven is hoping she can replicate the recipe!
"Fish under a Blanket" salad and jellied meat in the foreground
The salad had fish, carrots, beets, mayonnaise, cheese
and a bunch of other stuff I didn't see her put in it.
Pork with fruit and blood sausage

To all of our friends and family around the world,
we wish you a very Merry Christmas!

"Happy and Peaceful Holidays"

We miss you.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Back on the bus

We are heading to Tartu today. We have enjoyed Võru very much. We will write more later-I promise. Until then here are a few photos...
Steven and DianeIce fishing

Tree tops

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Where's Diane and Steven?

We arrived in Tallinn, Estonia, a couple of days ago. Kätlin greeted us at the airport and whisked us away to their home just outside Tallinn. We spent a couple days with Kätlin and Ivo and their darling daughter, Kail. We'll post some photos soon...

We then traveled to Viljandi where we stayed with Anu Raud, one of Estonia's greatest textile artists. More stories and photos coming soon!

Below: Here we are on the way to the bus from Anu's home in the countryside. A sled comes in handy when the snow is deep and your roll bags can't roll. We walked 200 meters (650 feet) in the beautiful snow.
Click below to watch a short movie of Anu's home.
video

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

And off we go!

We leave today for Estonia. We will stay with Steve's host family from Peace Corps. They are very dear friends and we are excited to be able to spend Christmas with them. We will be posting to our blog while we are there, so keep checking back for updates.

Until then, a few pictures of Christmas near our home...

Andrassy and Christmas trafficThe Opera

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tastes like Home...

We received a box from Peggy and Bob yesterday. A box full of things we miss:) They had is it all! The highlander grog coffee, the books, even the Mexican food and chocolate! We even got a few spice packets to make taco meat!

Now Steve and I sit with our books in silence drinking coffee and enjoying the chocolates!

Thank you for the great gifts!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

CHEAP FLIGHTS TO EUROPE!!!

I must tell you about the coolest thing ever!!!

SAS airlines has a program that started on December 1 and ends on Dec 25. Everyday they offer a flight from Seattle, Chicago or New York to a European destination. You must buy the flight the day it is offered and your travel must be completed by May 14, 2009. The flights are often under $300 (+taxes) rounds trip! The past two years Budapest was a destination at some point.

So, click on the link below, sign up for the daily email and get ready to purchase your ticket to visit us:)

Click here to see the SAS Christmas Calender

PS. Last year, on Christmas day they released all the fights again -25 flights for under $300!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Magyar halak ebéd (Hungarian Fish Luncheon)

Last Sunday—the 2nd Sunday of Advent—Steven’s co-worker, Panka, and her husband, Attila, invited us to a delicious lunch. Steven’s other co-workers, Éva, Péter and his wife, Laura, also joined the lunch. We kicked off the day with a toast to friends and good health. We drank plum and honey palinka—a tasty Hungarian brandy.

We started with soup as all proper Hungarian meals do. But not just any soup. A cold fruit soup spiced with clove! It was yummy and a good start to the meal. Panka then fried several small fish that resembled Crappie in the states. She filleted each fish and covered them with flour and paprika. The handmade paprika is a special recipe from Szeged—arguably the best paprika in Hungary!

We then ate a second fish, called Barbus barbus, that Panka baked with onion, peppers, butter, mustard, tomato, ketchup and fresh parsley. Hungarian wines were paired throughout the meal. All of the fish was caught in the Danube River near Tolna by Panka’s father who is an experienced fisherman and sailor.

Dinner

Chef at workfrying fishChef Panka
We followed the meal with some tasty espresso prepared by Attila and then tucked into some homemade beigli. Beigli is a traditional Christmas pastry made from walnut and poppy seed—two ingredients that Hungarians live by! Making beigli is difficult. Panka used her mother’s recipe and produce a delicious finish to a wonderful meal.

Panka's Beigli!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Explore. Dream. Discover.

We were heading home on Saturday after shopping at Budapest's Christmas market in Vörösmarty Square and stopped for coffee near the metro. We needed some caffeine after a huge Hungarian lunch...and a were in need of a toilet. We saw this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson on the wall in the coffeehouse and thought it was perfect for us.

The smaller quote above by Mark Twain is written
on the leftside of our blog...also perfect for us!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Licenced to Veg

Check out our friend's blog. He and his family recently moved to Switzerland. They have an interesting story about what you have to do when you own a TV or radio...

Click HERE to read about needing a license to have a TV or radio!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

St. Nicholas' Day

Today (December 6) is St. Nicholas' Day - Szent Mikulás Nap. Last night all across Hungary, children put their freshly clean boots on their window sills. This morning “good” kids found chocolate Szent Mikulás, nuts, fruit, and small gifts in their boots. “Bad” children received bunches of twigs (virgács). Mikulás, however, never finds entirely wicked children in Hungary. Most kids receive both candy and virgács.

Interestingly, Mikulás phoned us last night and asked us to stop by our friend Andi’s place. He said he was very busy this year and needed some help. We tip-toed to Andi’s door at 7:30 this morning. Andi received both candy and virgács! Mikulás told us that even angyali Andi needed some virgács. :-)

virgács (golden twigs left in your boots to
remind you that you were not 100% good)Mikulás' and his somewhat sinister elf-companion, Krampusz.
Krampusz is chasing the children with
virgács.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gödöllő Kiralyi Kastely

Our friends from Seattle (Eva and David) moved to Brussels a week after us. Eva is Hungarian and was vsiting her cousin and his famiy in a nearby town. We meet up in the the town of Gödöllő on Sunday for coffee, cake and walk through the Palace. The day was great. We hopped on a train, left a rainy Budapest and gazed out the train window as the puddles of water turned to snow patched grass. It was chilly and winter was everywhere.

The Gödöllő Kiralyi Kastely was beautiful. We will go back in the Spring when the gardens are green.
Enjoy Diane's favorite photos...

Waiting for the train
A train

Reflecting
David (singing? he must be so happy to see us!)
Eva, Steven and Diane
Peace

Monday, December 1, 2008

An International Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving was a hit. The menu was the traditional...
Turkey
Sweet Potatoes with marshmallows
Stuffing
Mashed potatoes
Cranberry sauce (brought by Ed from London)
Green beans
Roasted Carrots
Homemade biscuits
Pumpkin Pie (ingredients from a friend at the Embassy)

It was a fun evening and nice to have all the tastes of home. Although we wish we could have been in the USA for Thanksgiving, it was nice to have friends want to celebrate with us.

We felt it very appropriate to toast to Andi who much like the Indians teaching the Pilgrims how to fish and farm so they could survive the winter, Andi has helped us with...well, everything. She has helped with translations to how to operate our washing machine. She has helped us survive. Thanks Andi!

Here are some photos from the evening...click on the "Our photos" link to the left for more photos from the night...

Last minute preparations
The Bird
The fixings
Carving the bird

Friday, November 28, 2008

And so it begins...

Stay tuned! We're having our Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday.

Our friendly local butcher prepares
our 13 lb (6 kg) turkey...neck and all!


We finally found whole, so-called "baby" turkeys in the
Nagy Vasarcsarnok (central market)
for 800 forints per
kilogram (about $1.77 a pound)
.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Thank you for your support.
Thank you for your encouragement.
Thank you for your patience.
Thank you for your friendship.
Thank you for your emails.
Thank you for joining Skype:)
Thank you for your comments left on this blog.
Thank you for being our friend.

Happy Thanksgiving.
We miss you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Our first snow!

We are told it didn't snow at all in Budapest last year. Further, there has been less and less snow in Hungary over the years. To our delight--especially Steven's--snow began to fall this past weekend and has continued to come down. On Sunday, we bundled up and headed for the Christmas market located in Vörösmarty square which is in the center of Budapest near the Danube River.
Yummy sugary cinnamon bready
stuff grilled over an open fire!
The Christmas Market
Diane keeping warm with hot wine...
Santa's watching you...