A little Buda, a lot of Pest: Days 4-6

Isn’t it amazing how, as soon as you complain about something not working properly, it fixes itself? *Sigh* Life.
Anyway, to continue:

Sunday, Day 4, dawned ungodly bright and early. Saying we were used to it would be true, and unfortunate. But, we were on vacation and getting early starts is kind of necessary.

After breakfast at Frohlich Bakery (slowly becoming our favorite place to eat), we met up with M&E for a walking tour of the Jewish Quarter.

We met in front of one of the many drinkable fountains in the city – it turns out that Budapest sits on a naturally pure water source, so all the decorative fountains have drinkable water! And yes, we saw many people filling their water bottles from lions mouths and, ahem, other bodily openings.
Our guide Zoltan was informative, funny, and native-born Hungarian who lived in the Jewish Quarter despite a lack of religious credentials. The Jewish Quarter, it turns out, is home to many non-Jews because it is so centrally located within the capital. It also happens to be the center of the party scene in Budapest and is home to the famously infamous Ruin Pubs.

(I maintain what I said in my previous post about how nice everyone is – they could be even nicer if they would just be a little quieter while wandering the streets in their drunken dazes)

After 2.5 hours, Hubby, Nooshkin, M&E and I backtracked to the Dohanny Street Synagogue for a look inside. We decided against an official tour and just wandered around taking pictures of everything.

The interior of the Dohanny Street Synagogue

The interior of the Dohanny Street Synagogue

A close-up of the Aron Kodesh (where the Torah is kept)

A close-up of the Aron Kodesh (where the Torah is kept)

The cemetery in the courtyard

The cemetery in the courtyard

There was even a guestbook that you could sign so the synagogue would always remember and cherish your visit…that’s not weird in the slightest.

During the morning tour, I learned that Franz Liszt was the Shabbat Goy at the Dohanny Street Synagogue and played the organ during services!

Yup, accurate.

Yup, accurate.

How crazy is that?!

Once that was done, we all headed back to our respective abodes to relax and get ready for the wedding!
Which was on a boat in the Danube River with Buda Castle in the background.

The couple was gorgeous, the party went all night, and a good time was had by all. The craziest part was, they hired a second wedding planner who took care of the Kosher food for us and M&E. Actually, that isn’t so crazy once you really think about it.

Especially because they kept eating our food....

Especially because they kept eating our food…

What is crazy is how everyone seemed smitten with Nooshkin…nope, also not so crazy.

Day 5 was my plan. We were taking a roadtrip through the Hungarian countryside to Nyiradony, which is about 20 minutes Northeast of Debrecen, which is 2 hours from Budapest. It’s the village where my grandfather was from.
More about that in a different post.

Day 6 was devoted to shopping til we dropping. Which we were incredibly successful at (we are kind of professional). And, of course, taking more pictures of the sites around us.

Before we knew it, it was time to pack everything up. While the trip was wonderful, it was also incredibly exhausting – to the point that, fairly frequently on day 6 Hubby and I would look at each other and say “Yeah, I’m ready to go home”

I guess that is the best sign of a successful trip. That, and the swag we brought back 🙂

Currently Grooving On: Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody

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A little Buda, a lot of Pest: Days 1-3

We’re back!

Our travels safely concluded, and the laundry finally completed, I can finally get down to the business of posting lots of pictures and causing people to experience FOMOism.

FOMO: acronym, Fear Of Missing Out; commonly characterized by a desperate need to do something, even if that something is staying up until god-awful hours of the night/morning waiting for something to happen, all the while nothing is happening because every normal person is sleeping and is therefore doing nothing. Commonly experienced by high school and early college-age individuals, especially at summer camps.

As mentioned previously, Hubby Nooshkin and I traveled to Budapest for a week to celebrate the wedding of our friends J&E.
I very much recommend Budapest. As far as capital cities go it was clean, modern, and filled with friendly people. The architecture was amazing, there was (naturally) so much history around every corner, and the FOOD! There is nothing like traveling to a country that has its own food culture, handed down for literally centuries. Delicious, even if we only stuck to the Kosher stuff.

BUT – in the summer, the sun sets at 10pm and rises at 5am. Yes, those times are correct. Nooshkin was up super early every day ready to go – Hubby and I needed at least 3 cups of coffee just to get out the door. Also, this wrecked havoc with all our sleep cycles. Needless to say, by the last day we were very much ready to head home.

So, on to the important part.

Day 1 was spent arriving, settling in, and exploring. We stayed at the Nova Apartments, located in the Jewish Quarter. Once we divested ourselves of the luggage we wandered around the neighborhood. We did a little shopping for food, but mostly took in the sites of the city. We also met up with our friends M&E who also came in for the same wedding and stayed up the street.

The Budapest Opera House

The Budapest Opera House

Um...I don't remember...

Um…I don’t remember…

Some cool detailing

Some cool detailing

Day 2 we walked to the National Gallery of Hungarian Art at the Buda Castle. About half of the galleries were closed for renovations, but what we saw was incredibly interesting. The Gallery was only Hungarian artists throughout the centuries, so it was really cool to see non-Italian works from the Renaissance and other eras.

The Buda Castle on the Danube (cue the waltz)

The Buda Castle on the Danube (cue the waltz)

Afterwards we had a nice picnic lunch near the entrance, and took some pictures of the Pest side of the city.

I was getting really good with Panorama mode

I was getting really good with Panorama mode

We then slowly made our way back to the hotel and got ready for Shabbat.
Friday night services were at one of the three local synagogues. I was kind of keen on going to the famous Dohanny Street synagogue, but the services started super early and there’s a two-hour minimum stay when you enter. (The synagogue is closed to tourists on Shabbat; so if you go in they want to make sure that you really want to go in, which I completely understand). As it is, the Dohanny Street Synagogue has a significantly different prayer style than most European Jewish communities, so we wouldn’t have been able to keep up anyway.
However, the synagogue we went to was really nice. The interior was a time machine back to the 1700s when it was first built, with super vibrant blues, greens, reds, and golds. Jewish starts and menorahs were everywhere, and each window had stained glass – even the ones on the ceiling.
There was also a playroom which Nooshkin took over. So that was great, because I was able to actually take in the place without worrying about her.
After dinner we headed back to the apartment and passed out from exhaustion – it had been a super long day.

Shabbat morning, after several rounds of breakfast, we took a long walk around Budapest, followed by lunch. Followed immediately by a nearly 3-hour nap.

This was Hubby's idea

This was Hubby’s idea

We then walked to Margaret Island, smack in the middle of the Danube River and spent a few hours wandering around. There were tons of attractions, and although we didn’t get to do everything there was plenty to see: a zoo, lots of playgrounds, a huge fountain with choreographed displays (music included), the famous Rose Gardens (sans roses, due to maintenance issues), and – apparently – the Budapest Summer Festival.

A good time was had by all, especially Nooshkin, who got to see peacocks for the first time. The zoo also had an eagle, and some ravens. Also storks who were doing this weird clacky thing with their beaks, and nobody could figure out if it was a mating ritual or a defense mechanism.

We took the long way back to the apartments, at which point it was starting to get dark outside and we were finally able to fall asleep.

Currently Grooving On: The Blue Danube Waltz (because, duh)

International Woman of….something

The Restless Mama family is going to Budapest!

Our dear friends J&E are getting hitched, and they graciously invited us so we naturally graciously accepted.
Hungary is one of the many countries we want to visit anyway, so this is the perfect opportunity to cross it off our list.

I cannot guarantee posts while abroad, but who knows? Maybe there will be some restless moments (ha, yeah right).

At the very least there will be lots of pictures when we get back.

Crazygonuts Family Fun Times!

Also known as LAK’s wedding week extravaganza.

The family has returned to their places of origin, the happily married couple is currently on a trip that may-or-may-not resemble a honeymoon (I mean, they are currently not in the country, but they are in Seattle, so…..), and the mountain of laundry is now merely a molehill.

In short, we now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

*insert sound here*

*insert sound here*

Excepting, of course, the two presentations I need to present this week. And the requisite term papers that go along with those presentations (even though they aren’t due for a few months). And our international trip next week, which requires only some preparation. And job hunting because, well, consistency.

But still. *Deep, contented sigh*

Pa is fond of saying really corny dad things, and his catchphrase is “When’s the last time this whole family was together?” And truth be told, it had been a while. About 2 years, to be exact – since Other Brother’s wedding.

Although we have multiple email and whatsapp chains, because my family gets together like this we tend to get on each others’ nerves really quickly and really often. It’s almost like we regress in age and space, back to before the in-laws and offspring and BA degrees (of which we all have). It provides us a second chance at the childhood we experienced together, because for us those jokes really don’t ever get old. There is nothing like taking a joke out of storage for the first time in 7 years, and realizing it’s still hysterically punny.

We also get the chance to make new jokes and memories, without any pretense. Our collective memories revolve around moments like this, which make them more potent. All those Friday night dinners we had together as a family are a huge blur – but the last two weekends will be remembered for a while (and not just because they are freshest).

But, it also provides us the opportunity to talk with each other about the things that really matter. The technological threads are there for the usual day-to-day mundanities, so when we are all physically in the same place we can get right down to business.

So although it was crazy, and stressful, and absolutely hellishly nuts – it was nice to have the whole family together again for the first time since the last time.

*pause* Yeah.

*pause* Yeah.

OH, here are a smattering of pictures. Because of course. Enjoy.

Yup, totally normal.

Yup, totally normal.

Nooshkin and DaNiece meet!

Nooshkin and DaNiece meet!

Fun times at the beach

Fun times at the beach

Three men and a baby!

Three men and a baby!

Nooshkin and DaNiece

Nooshkin and DaNiece

Hubby and the Other Brother

Hubby and the Other Brother

LAK was surprised by her bestest friends.

LAK was surprised by her bestest friends.

Getting ready

Getting ready

Pretty girls

Pretty girls

The Restless Mama family

The Restless Mama family

Happy Passover! Days 1-3

Happy Spring Holidays to all! Don’t you love it when the gods’ schedules are synched? At least Greek Orthodox Easter is next Sunday.

Living in Israel when major holidays overlap is always crazy. That’s why we’re avoiding Jerusalem until the very end when everyone else has already gone and it will be somewhat calmer.

Friday was spent cooking so much food. But we had plenty of guests over for the Seder and so most of the food was eaten. But then I had to go shopping to replenish the food that was eaten, and now I can’t find the shelves in my fridge.

Most of the food was standard fare, but I made special-for-Passover brownies originally posted on Lulu and Lattes that our guests called “Sorcery” – mostly because they didn’t taste like Passover. When you have a holiday where even scrambled eggs taste different, making something that tastes like a regular food item is key.
These brownies are completely gluten-free and took about 2 minutes to put together, so I will probably add them to my regular rotation too. (recipe is below!)

Yesterday I, Hubby, Nooshkin, and Stinky Face went to the Game of Thrones Exhibit in Tel Aviv. It was pretty cool and there were many opportunities for my inner nerd to be very happy.

Stinky Face and the Restless Mama

Stinky Face and the Restless Mama

The Exhibit is here for the rest of the week, but there were a limited number of tickets available. Naturally, this didn’t stop people from trying to get in anyway – so there was a separate entrance for people who didn’t have tickets. But we were smart and ordered the tickets as soon as we found out this was happening, which was three weeks ago – go planning ahead!

Some of the costumes on display

Some of the costumes on display

Dragon Eggs!

Dragon Eggs!

There were some costumes, props, and interactive stations where you pretend to get burned by a dragon or turned into a White Walker. The lines were kind of long, so we didn’t do them.

The only line worth waiting in was for the Throne.

Future Queen of Westeros

Future Queen of Westeros

This line (surprisingly) went pretty fast, but that’s because there was an actual bouncer whose sole job was to kick people off the Throne so everyone else could have their turn.

We also walked around the Tel Aviv Port a little, but it was getting dark and cold (and we got caught in some spray) so we didn’t stay too long.

Nooshkin and I are hanging out today and we will probably wreck havoc around the neighborhood after wrecking havoc around the apartment.

Miracle Bar – courtesy of Amy Selling from Lulu and Lattes

INGREDIENTS
2 cups ground almonds
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375; Grease a 9×13 pan. Mix ingredients together and spread in pan with spatula. Batter will be thick but do not add water. Just mix it well. Bake for 23 minutes. — OR — Shape into cookies and bake 12–15 minutes. Do not undercook.