The Holidays

We just got home from our holiday trip to Budapest, Pécs, and Bergamo so I wanted to share a couple thoughts and some photos.

Trip highlights:
The delicious Hungarian food
Ice-skating on a beautiful Christmas day in Budapest’s City Park
Soaking in the Lukacs Thermal Baths for more than 3 hours (also on Christmas Day)
Exploring the bars in Budapest and Pécs
Seeing La bohème in the Hungarian State Opera House
Wandering the cities, especially in the fresh snowfall after our night at the opera
Enjoying the fireworks and atmosphere of New Years Eve in a jam-packed square in Bergamo’s old city
Italian Pizza

Some Photos:

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This is deliciously cooked pork smothered in some sort of incredible mushroom sauce and served with mashed potatoes – only one of the great meals we had in Hungary.

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Cori and the Hungarian State Opera House with fresh snow falling. This was probably one of the best nights of the trip.

It’s never easy to spend the holidays away from family and friends but it’s certainly better when you can at least enjoy them in a place where the locals celebrate with you. Still, we missed you all a lot this past week. Next year, we won’t have to worry about all this!

-Matt

I (won’t) be home for Christmas…

A couple months ago, I started making plans with friends to spend a small Thanksgiving together – I figured it wouldn’t be much, but it’d be better sitting at home on a holiday. As you can maybe tell by that attitude, I’ve had a pretty pessimistic view of what our holidays would be like this year. The prospect of not being home for Christmas for maybe the first time in my life (and Matt not being with his family for Thanksgiving for the first time in his life) was really getting us down. But I underestimated the wonderfulness of the PCV community – maybe it’s just because I was dreading it, but we’ve already had a holiday season that way exceeded my expectations!

For Thanksgiving, Peace Corps staff brought all the volunteers to Rabat to have a huge dinner, complete with deliciously cooked Butterball turkeys (also lots of couscous, lentils and dates… it was a multicultural holiday). We sat out under big tents, eating (mostly) American food and speaking English, and even got to go out that night to party with a LOT of PCVs. Unconventional, yes, but it also made for a fantastic day spent in good company, and I’ll take that for a holiday any day.

Thanksgiving in Rabat

Thanksgiving in Rabat

The Saturday after Thanksgiving we got to celebrate the second big holiday in November – The Game. We had some other Ohio and Michigan people over, made a big pot of chili, and (despite the nerve-wracking game) had a great time watching OSU pull off the victory. We even rounded off the evening with a Euchre tournament to complete the Midwestern experience.

Our stream ended up being in Russian... but at least we had a good picture!

Our stream ended up being in Russian… but at least we had a good picture!

This past weekend I got to celebrate Christmas with a bunch of my friends in the area (OK I know it’s a little early for that, but we’re all traveling over the actual holiday). We had a girls’ night cookie exchange party, complete with Christmas-themed photo booth, Christmas music playing non-stop, mulled wine, and I think about 6 Christmas movies. We had a great time overdosing on all things Christmas together before we split up for the holidays.

cookies!!!!

Cookies!!!! and us in our PJs in the background.

Matt hosted a Man night in Azilal during our Cookie Exchange... not really holiday related, but they apparently had a good time.

Matt hosted a Man night in Azilal during our Cookie Exchange… not really holiday related, but as you can see, they had a good time.

I was even lucky enough to find a little plastic Christmas tree on sale this weekend, which Matt and I promptly set up when I got home. We wanted to bring a little Christmas cheer to our house for the most exciting event of the season – my family’s visit! They decided only a few months ago to come visit this winter, which of course did wonders to brighten my holiday attitude. I feel like a little kid again, excitedly counting down the days until Christmas and all the presents under the tree – except this year the present is my family :). No, we won’t be home for Christmas, but with the help of Peace Corps staff, friends, and family, we’ve been able to bring home to Morocco for the holidays, and I wish you all a happy holiday season!

Our little Christmas corner :)

Our little Christmas corner 🙂