January 24, 2011

I'm back! + Sarah's Visit

Sziasztok! I'm sorry I've been absent on here for over a week now. I truly didn't have the time to sit down and post and now I'm afraid I'm quite backed up with things to share with you.

But before I dig in, I must clarify something from a past post that I know has had several of you wondering. The answer is: NO, the reason I am leaving Hungary "early" (albeit only by a few weeks) is NOT because I got pregnant during Matt's visit to Hungary! Very sorry to disappoint!

Anyway, on to Sarah's visit, which was simply spectacular!

Please meet my dear friend, Sarah Barnette:

Absolutely adorable, isn't she?!

We had such a memorable, fun-filled eight days together both in Budapest and Debrecen.

Our time together began when I met Sarah at our hotel room last Friday night. After squeals of delight and several huge bear-hugs, we managed to pick up right where we left off when we both lived in Strasbourg, France. So began the hours and hours of insightful and inspiring conversation, never-ending laughs, and general silliness.

On Saturday, we strolled up the grand Andrassy Avenue in Budapest...

...which ends at Budapest's famous Hero Square.

Like Matt and then Jane, I had to take Sarah to see the gorgeous Vajdahunyad Castle in the park behind the square.

Although the sky was strewn with the gorgeous colors of the setting sun on one side of us...

...the silvery moon peeked out on the other.

Sarah and I both have developed the habit over the years of photographing our own feet in various countries.

Here is the 'Anonymous Writer' statue behind the park. The former two times I've been here, the statue had been swamped with tourists and we decided not to wait around for pictures. But this time, the statue was open and waiting for us!

Uh...but he's creepy.

The castle reflected in the water:

On Saturday, we also spent nearly three hours at {yes} a Starbucks. {how very American of us!} Up until a mere three weeks ago, Hungary only contained one Starbucks Café, located in a Budapest shopping mall. But when I was exploring Budapest with Jane in November, we happened to walk by a soon-to-be-opened Starbucks Café. This café happened to be conveniently located just a short walk from the hotel where Jane and I, and this time Sarah and I, stayed. It was the best conversation I can ever remember having over a chai latté while nestled in a Starbucks.

After an early dinner on Saturday evening, Sarah and I ventured to a local cinema to see the latest installment of the Harry Potter films. Sarah and I are both huge Harry Potter fans, so we could appreciate each others' company during the film all the more. I was delighted to find this film showing in English in Budapest because it's only being shown in Debrecen dubbed in Hungarian. After enjoying the film with pop, buttery popcorn, and peanut M&M's, Sarah and I both agreed that this was the best Harry Potter film yet.

Now on to Sunday...

We paid a visit to the world-famous Gerbeaud Restaurant/Café. It's more than 150 years old and has even been graced by the presence of one of my favorites: Princess Diana.

The interior is exquisite, reflecting old world glamour.

Sarah and I enjoyed lunch, dessert, and coffee here under glittering chandeliers and gilded ceilings. We ate slowly, savoring our conversation and lingering in the ambiance.

My delicious {and expensive!} chicken salad:

Our desserts were a treat to the eye AND the tastebud.

Capturing our reflection in the etched mirrors:

Once again, the sun left us a beautiful evening sky with which to bring in the night.

We discovered this stunning entrance to the Swarovski shop!

We ended our Sunday with dinner at 'Casablanca' Restaurant.

Sarah and I both enjoyed Greek salads:

The doorman promised that we'd be entertained throughout dinner by a "real gypsy musician." We couldn't resist. The musician introduced himself to us and spoke French with us after learning Sarah and I lived in France, where he had worked as a musician for 15 years. He was good pianist, but kept turning around to smile and wink at us throughout his serenades, which made for quite the awkward dinner, indeed. Here is our "gypsy" in the background, although the flower stems block most of his face from the camera view. Sarah was lucky--her back was facing him, so I got to deal with the largest share of greasy smiles and winks. Needless to say, we finished our meals, paid the bill, and scurried out of the restaurant. We probably should have told the doorman that their "real gypsy musician" was scaring off the customers!

Many more adventures to share tomorrow!

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