My Favorite Photos from the Second Quarter

Without further adieu, here are my favorite photos from December 2017 until now. By my own method of counting, I have completed my second quarter of Peace Corps service.

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Peace Corps conference in December
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At the Po-E-Ze Competition

Vacation has started! #pristina #butnotforlong

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Eiffel Tower

London calling! #cheesy #tourist #london #england🇬🇧

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Chelsea and April, at a London Pub
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With Charlie, Chelsea, and Sierra, in Prizren, Kosovo

Serbian monastery in the snow. #peja #kosovo

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A walk in Pristina in February
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Happy kitty!

#Skopje #Macedonia #church 🇲🇰

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Fortress/castle from the Ottoman Empire, Skopje, Macedonia
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Traditional Kosovar clothing
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Visiting the Ecological Museum

April in Rome Favorite

April in Rome Umbrella Pines
Umbrella Pines
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Inside the Roman Forum
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April and Nicole at Costanza Restaurant, Rome
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Tim, Rachel, and April, in Berlin
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Easter Eggs
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Budapest
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My village in Kosovo
April Mirusha Waterfall
April at Mirusha Wateralls
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April, under a waterfall
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Anniversary dinner! Shay, April, Christian, Val, and Charlie

As always, thanks for reading! You can see my favorite photos from the first quarter here.

An Unexpected Trip to Hungary

I visited Hungary for the first time over this past weekend. I certainly wasn’t expecting to go on vacation so soon after going on vacation, but the opportunity arose and I took it. A friend asked if I wanted to meet there, and I said, “Yes,” and then, “Let me talk to Peace Corps.” One vacation request and 84 Euro later, and I was on a plane headed for Budapest.

I’m very close to my grandfather, and his mother was from Hungary. Visiting my great-grandmother’s home country was high on my to-do list while in Europe. I am so glad I got the chance to go!

Budapest (pronounced “Buda-pesht,” I learned), is a much bigger city than I expected. It is everything I thought Berlin would be (but wasn’t) — vibrant and artsy, with an edge to it.

My friend and I spent much of our time walking around the city. Keep reading, and I’ll tell you my favorite things about Budapest.

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Intermission during a dance performance of Dracula
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Palace of the Arts, lit up at night
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Morning walk along the Danube
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Food truck court
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I liked this deer.
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A 4-Euro lunch, and it was good! Yes, please.
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Cuteness abounds at the food truck court
Danube at night
The Danube in the evening
Szimpla Kert
A bad photo of Szimpla Kert … I encourage you to search for better ones on the Internet. Loved this space!
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Art Deco church on the “Buda” half of the city
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Museum of Applied Arts — so sad I wasn’t able to visit on this trip. Next time!

Tips and Observations About Budapest:

  • I wasn’t sure what to do my first night in the city, since I arrived before my friend did. After poking around on Google Maps, I discovered the Palace of the Arts was close to where I was staying. I went to a dance performance of Dracula, and really had a great time! Because it was a dance performance, I was able to (loosely) follow the plot, even though the speaking parts were obviously in Hungarian. And the dancers were wearing what I assume were traditional Hungarian costumes, which I got a kick out of seeing. Also, the price was right (only 11 Euro).
  • There is a little alley tucked into the city that leads to a court with food trucks. I got handmade gnocchi for lunch. 🙂 The food was good, cost about 4 Euro, and the atmosphere was really cute.
  • I had never heard of a “ruin pub” before my trip. I discovered that a ruin pub is a bar inside an old, rundown building, and that they are very popular in Budapest. My friend and I visited the largest, oldest, and most famous ruin pub — Szimpla Kert. My pictures of it stink because it was so dark inside (check out their website if you want to see more). It was HUGE and PACKED! There were so many rooms, with so many different options … a wine bar, a food bar, different lounges, and an outdoor space. The building was rough and decaying, filled with oddball trinkets and eclectic decor. While loud, busy bars are not my scene, I loved the space.
  • My friend and I tried to go to Szechenyi thermal bath (another thing for which I didn’t know Budapest is famous). We got there at about 3 in the afternoon. The place was packed. We would’ve had to wait for an hour or more to get in. Instead, we decided to buy a day pass at a local hotel, and use their thermal pool. It wasn’t much of a cultural experience, but we were determined to do something relaxing, and the hotel’s thermal pool was much less crowded.
  • We decided to have a traditional Hungarian meal on my last night in the city. Based on a local’s recommendation, we ended up at Mester. The food was excellent, and it reminded me of some of the meals my family makes. 🙂 (Nothing beats a hearty beef-and-noodle soup!)
  • Compared to other place I’ve visited in Europe (which, for the record, are Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Spain, France, England, Italy, and Germany), Hungary had the best crafts and homemade goods made by local artisans. We visited a little craft market, and I could’ve gone nuts buying things (I didn’t). I managed to rein myself in and only buy a few souvenirs for my family.

I loved Budapest, and feel like I could return and have new things to explore the next time around.