the halloween party

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

 Little baby lion photo bomber got us in this one.

Happy Halloween!  Halloween isn't traditionally celebrated in Lithuania, though people know what it is.  Some of the younger kids are starting to pick up on it.  Anyways we figured we'd have a party since we are an English class and all....gotta teach some culture.  I was a bird and  Stevie faux hawked my hair.  I was the best looking bird around.  Well, there was one of the students' little brothers that didn't think so.  He's about 1 or 2 years old.  He came walking happily around the corner until he saw me with my mask on and I just saw the terror register on his face and then instant tears. So some Lithuanians are still coming around to the idea of Halloween.  We got lots of confused, upset, amazed stares while walking to and from school.  

But, we let the kids know that they could dress up and bring some food cause we were having a P.A.R.T.Y.  

I was pretty skeptical about if any of the students would actually wear a costume....and if they'd even get the concept.  But they got it. And their costumes were legit.  They put my bird hair to shame.  We had a feast of treats and the kids loved it and it was the best. I think Lithuania has some hope yet of bringing the Halloween notion around. Our work here is done. Mission accomplished.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I've been loving Birdy lately, especially this song.  Its the perfect kind of song for these cold winter days.  I was on the bus the other day with my head phones in and just listened it on repeat for 20 minutes.  A little much but I just got in the zone of her voice....beautiful. 

And tomorrow is Halloween. And I'm going to be an Angry Bird.  The red one :)  I even made a mask and everything. This is a big step up from my typical 80s attire every single year.  Even though I look super rad in 80s attire, it's time to mix it up.

And the next day is vacation to Sweden day.  


krakow round 2 and warsaw

Friday, October 26, 2012

At the end of our trip we headed back to Krakow because that's where we were flying out of to go home.  So we got to have an extra day there!  This was day 8 of our trip and we were all pretty exhausted with blistered feet from walking all over.  So, when golf cart tours of the city full of people kept riding past us, instead of laughing at them, this time we said, "oh heck yeah."  
We go some ice cream and negotiated a decent price with the driver and off we went.  And it was the best decision we made all week. Even though I know people were laughing at us suckers in a golf cart...  its hard to care when I'm sipping on a milkshake being driven around.

They have this tour of the Jewish district so that's what we chose to do.  During the war, jewish people weren't allowed to be in the city center of most bigger cities.  They had designated districts outside of the city where they had to stay and live, so that's the tour that we had.  
Our driver was in a hurry to get us through the loop, probably since I gave him the price that we would pay for the tour (which was a really low).  So we had to hold on tight because he was not slowing down for anyone.  When you mix cobblestone streets with an extended golf cart and no seat belts, its not the best mixture. I almost fell out of the cart taking this really important video.  

He took us to this church and there was a wedding party gathered, taking their photos where we needed to drive by.  Instead of going another direction....he took us straight. through. the. wedding. party.  I was so embarrassed that I couldn't make eye contact with anyone that we kicked out of our way.  They were lining up to enter the church and go down the aisle and he's honking at them to get out of our way.  

And once we got past everyone, he just parked...  So that we could get out and walk through the church.  You know, the church where they're trying to have a wedding.  Yep, we're here to ruin your magical day. 

Part of the tour to us to Schindler's Factory.  I bought this book while I was there. I'm only part way through but I would recommend it.  Its written by a man named Joseph Bau who lived in the jewish district that I was able to see in Krakow.  Its his personal story describing how his entire family was killed, how he was sent to a concentration camp, how he met and married his wife secretly in the camp, how she was sent to Auschwitz and how he was saved by Schindler's list.  Its pretty amazing if you like that kind of thing.  The accounting of horrific treatment kind of thing.  But its a got a good ending.

 On the very last day, heading home was a whole thing.  Long story short: I got up around 4 am, got screwed over by my taxi driver and so I YELLED at him (if you've never heard me yell......well its possible), waited in the tiniest airport you've ever imagined (there is only one gate and the security leads right to it...its just in the next room from the check in counter) until about 11.....with no internet and ALONE.  I about went crazy.  All that for the 30 minute flight to Warsaw, Poland where I had a 10 hour layover and then a 45 minute flight back to Vilnius.  I met up with Holly in Warsaw (we had different flights) and we had planned to spend the long layover exploring Warsaw.  We only made it about 2 hours before I lost all interest.  No offense to you Warsaw, you're beautiful and have amazing  buildings like the one above......I just was done mentally and my wallet was empty and I was exhausted.

 I did enjoy this man enough to wanna take a photo.  So this is basically the only photo that I'm keeping of Warsaw.
 Finally...after the long day in the airport I made it home around 2 am. But that trip...was the best. I'm a lucky girl.

prague and budapest

Sunday, October 21, 2012

We took an overnight train from Krakow to Prague. Each compartment has 6 beds and since there is 5 of us, there was an extra bed for a stranger.  So, I ended up next to a little old Polish man who knew a little bit of English. He was pretty chatty.  I talked to him for a little while and he was pretty excited about it. Every time that I tell someone that I'm from Washington state, they instantly say "oh yes, I know, the capitol."  It's a lot easier to just let them believe that then to try to explain that there is actually another washington.  And the only thing that most people know about the states is NYC,  so I proceeded to tell him all about NYC as if I lived there. He loved that.  I was really tired though and as soon as there was a lull in the conversation I pulled out a book and hoped we would get the point.  Then Stevie started saying something to him and he said "what?" She repeated and then he said, "your English is not very good."  I guess living in Utah for 21 years just didn't quite cut it for her English learning.  But at least that gave me enough time to roll over and act like I was sleeping before he wanted to talk to me, the English pro, again.

One of the girls had some family connections to a guy that was staying in Prague while we were there so he took care of us.  We had planned to stay in a really cheap hostel but he decided it was in a pretty bad part of town and insisted we stay in an apartment on the main shopping street where he had connections.  Since we couldn't afford something like that he agreed to have us just pay what we were planning to pay at the other place. So, we got to stay on this street (from the above photo) in a beautiful, huge apartment for the price of the cheapest hostel in Prague. Lucky us! He also introduced us to a guy that just got off his mission and had time to show us around the city.  He was our tour guide for the two days we were there and introduced us to a couple new friends.  They made us dinner and hung out with us.  It was so fun to meet new people.

Prague was really beautiful with so much amazing architecture.  This was on the famous Charles bridge. After I got home I had to watch Mission Impossible because that's the bridge where everyone dies in the beginning scene.  Movies are so much cooler when you've been there huh. 

Old Town Square.
Just lovin Prague.
A market and souvenir spot.
View of Charles bridge.

These were oh SO good. Its like bread covered in sugar and cinnamon.  I might have had a few.

We took a bus to Budapest, Hungary after spending a couple days in Prague.  The drive was about 7 hours and it was incredibly gorgeous! Budapest was beautiful too and turned out to be my favorite city out of our trip that week.  Even though it wasn't that far away, it had a very different feel and different architecture.  I wish we had more time to explore there.  Right after we got there we were having the yummiest dinner (Italian.....yeah) and I just had one of those feelings of being so incredibly happy to be where I was.  I heart Budapest.

I went a little crazy with H&M.  There was at least 2 or 3 stores in each of the cities we went to.  I can't just walk by and not get sucked in.  

There are several bridges that connect the Buda and the Pest sides of the city. We wanted to see both sides in one day so we were walking up and down and all around jamming everything into one day.  We got most of it and definitely got to know those bridges well.  It was cool cause they were all really distinct looking. This was the green bridge.
I'd call this the lion bridge. 
Just a view of both sides of the city.

All of the buildings have such intricate detailing carved into the walls.  I've seen that in all the cities in Europe so far and I just love it. 

The currency exchange was the biggest in Budapest.  It was nothing to spend 3,000 on a meal. Makes me feel pretty rich when the smallest thing I put out of my wallet is a 100. So far on our trip we've used litas, euros, zloty, forint and crowns and we still have a couple more countries to go to.  It's craziness!  Imagine every state you go to having a different currency and they are all different exchange rates.  Yeesh.  It makes my brain hurt. 

Budapest is famous for their thermal baths so we made sure to make an appearance.  The photo above is the one that we went to.  It was pretty packed though.  Inside those yellow buildings are tons of rooms that have saunas, steam rooms and other pools.  Then next to each hot room was a cold pool.  They use the therapy of hot to cold temp changes.  I tried it and it actually did feel really good, once you get past the intense pain of jumping in a cold pool....yeah its nice.  There were pools that had different elements to them like sulfer, calcium, different light treatments, of all different temperatures.  Its all meant to be healing.  And it felt so good.  After a week of walking around, it was just what I needed.  We were in there for a few hours and loved it.  That night we all slept so hard that we missed our bus out of there the following morning.  But that just meant one extra day in Budapest so it wasn't the end of the world. 

Since we missed our bus that morning, we had to go for the next best thing and catch a train to get back to Krakow.  Trains are just more expensive but it was our only option.  So turns out that Budapest has THE sketchiest train station ever. So dirty. So druggy. We had to find a bathroom and we saw this WC sign (which means water closet which means bathroom) so we started heading that way.  Me and Stevie turned the corner to follow the WC sign just as some guy whipped out his business and started peeing on the wall.  I quickly scanned the area to see some dark hallway with people doing who knows we got our butts outta there pretty quick.  All we could do was run and laugh.  When we looked at each other to confirm that we both saw the same thing, we both just knew.  Sketch sketch sketch.  And we still had to pee.  

Apples are mondo big there. 
This was the best hungarian food restaurant that we found.  It was paprika chicken with some creamy sauce over noodles.  For CHEAP. 

I love the metros in Budapest.  Actually anywhere.  They're so much better than the bus.

If anyone wants a Budapest tour guide I will go back with you k?  And we will avoid the train station at all costs.

SOUTH JENNI. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.