Friday, October 28, 2011

Be Sure to Take Your Coat to the Afterlife

It's our last night in Budapest and it's making us a little wistful as we've really grown accustomed to the city and our life here. We have favorite walks, parks and restaurants where we've gotten to know the wait staff.

Today is also the eve of All Saints' Day, a national holiday here in Hungary where people pay tribute to their deceased loved ones by visiting the cemeteries and lighting candles or placing flowers on the graves. At the suggestion of our host, Rita, we decided to pay a visit to the famous Farkasreti Cemetery where many Hungarian poets, inventors, and celebrities are buried. Unfortunately, we decided to go after dark thinking the lights would be even more spectacular while not realizing that the cemetery would be close to pitch black except for the candles. I could see just enough to make out the spectacular tombstones such as a giant, stone melting candle. We decided it was well worth a trip back in daylight on our way out of town tomorrow.

Halloween is not formally celebrated here but like Zagreb, a solid ex-pat community has begun working it into the mainstream. On Saturday we met up with Rita and her young daughter to go to a community center celebration that featured pumpkin carving, musical entertainment and multiple art tables for sewing and gluing costumes. Vaughn has been a little bummed about missing Trick-or-Treating so we made it up to him in pumpkins which he finally burnt out on carving.

Last Thursday we decided to set out on foot for Margaret island which is accessible via one of the bridges. We had heard that you could rent bikes and that it was a nice place to go for a walk. The whole island is essentially one giant park and pretty soon we found ourselves comfortably seated on a bicycle built for three to tour the island. About ten minutes in we passed a roadside stand selling hot, mulled wine for just $2.

The island was awash in autumnal splendor with all the trees in various shades of red, orange and yellow. Jacob kept making us stop the bike to pose in front of trees for "Christmas card pictures" while acknowledging we would never get around to sending said cards.

On the way home while we waited outside of a store for Jacob, a man came up to gently chastise me for Vaughn wearing only a short sleeved shirt on such a cool autumn day. I'm surmising here based on the fact that when it was clear I had no idea what he was saying, he pointed at Vaughn and wrapped his arms around himself while scowling, shaking and saying "BRRRR". I'm sure I seemed like a great parent, standing there in my coat and scarf but thankfully I was able to reach over and tug on the jacket Vaughn had tucked under his arm which sent Chasty McChastiser backing up with a series of embarrassed "Ohhhh! 'Scuzie!" Yeah - too late pal. No matter how many time I explain it to him, Vaughn still doesn't get how him not wearing a jacket or donning sandals with no socks makes ME look bad and ups my chances for a visit from Child Protective Services. But this isn't the first time I've had to deal with a public admonishment so now, when Vaughn doesn't want to dress properly, instead of explaining the weather, I simply say, "Well Vaughn, I don't want you to have to go live with another family but perhaps you do" and he sighs dramatically and takes the coat.

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