Expat Life, Moving Abroad

5 Things We’ve Learned Living Abroad in Budapest

November 28, 2018
living abroad in Budapest

We’ve officially lived in Budapest for a year! It’s hard to believe, as I would swear we only just arrived. However, it’s true. Last week, Facebook reminded me on the day we took our one-way flight across the pond. Living abroad in Budapest was always a dream of mine, and thanks to my amazing husband, we are here sharing it together. To celebrate this milestone, I thought I would tell you 5 things we’ve learned living abroad in Budapest, Hungary.

Dog in Suitcase

Lucy sitting our suitcase making sure she didn’t get left behind – November 21st, 2017.

1. Determination and patience are key

When we moved here, we really did start our lives again from scratch.  We had nowhere to live, nowhere to work, no friends and no idea how to tackle Hungarian bureaucracy. However, what we did have was each other. Our strong partnership was essential for making some stressful times much less so.  It helped us laugh, love and enjoy along the way.  And of course, Stuart and his team at InterRelocation were a huge help too!

2. You can live with less “stuff”

Sorting and selling our worldly goods in order to move to Europe was tough.  However, living here with less has been fabulous.  All that stuff you thought you couldn’t live without?  Well you can! Of course we replaced some essentials when we arrived – but there is practically nothing I miss.  Especially not my car! Public transportation is amazing here. I love that its more environmentally friendly and that I’m not wasting my life sitting in my car.  I read so many more books while taking public transportation!

This was everything we shipped here to Budapest to start our new life. It didn’t even fill up one van!

3. Age is just a number

Moving here midlife – and by choice – was just not something everyone could understand. I learned that it’s never too late for changes and we can always chase our dreams. People shouldn’t be discouraged by their age – quite the opposite. When you’re older, you’re more experienced and you know what you want from life.

4. Dollars, pounds, euros or forints?

The day will come when you stop converting money in your head.  For a long while, we were still converting everything into Canadian dollars to truly understand the price of things. However, we realized a couple of months ago, we no longer find ourselves doing it all the time.

5. We have different accents

A few weeks ago someone told me I speak with an accent. Happily, I though this meant maybe I had developed a bit of a Hungarian one… but they said, “No”. Then, my glee quickly turned to horror as I though I perhaps developed an affected British accent like Madonna?  However, thankfully, they also said, “No, its not that either”.  What they meant, was more that my speech has changed.  I choose my words differently now knowing that (Canadian) English is not the first language of most of our new friends and co-workers. And they are right, my language has definitely changed. However, my husband’s English accent has also absolutely become much stronger over the past year. My Canadian influence is fading…

One year in Budapest

Celebrating one year in Budapest. Do we sound different? Has our speech and accents changed? Visit us to find out!

Emigrating to another country certainly might seem daunting and I do believe that not everyone was made for this journey. But if you feel like you want to leave your country and would like to see the world, then do it! Fight your fears, open your mind and go!

As for us? We are still on our journey. We are currently trying to work through our final bits of Hungarian bureaucracy getting our Hungarian Driver’s Licenses. At first, we thought we would simply be able to exchange our Canadians ones, but apparently that is not true.  What it does mean, is that we’ll be starting off 2019 back in Driver’s Ed. Wish us luck!

Expat Life

Remembrance Service at the Commonwealth War Cemetery

November 18, 2018

Last Sunday, November 11th, Andrew and I attended the Remembrance Service at the Budapest Commonwealth War Cemetery.  The Budapest War Cemetery is located just outside of Budapest in Solymár.  We attended the cold and wet ceremony with fellow British, Canadian and Americans friends.

BUDAPEST WAR CEMETERY

Budapest Commonwealth War Cemetery

The cemetery contains 173 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War. All of the graves are airmen   – with the exception of one seaman who died during peace enforcement on the Danube. The remains were brought in from sites all over Hungary after the war. At first they were marked with wooden markers but replaced with the current headstones in 1950-54. Only three of these burials are unidentified. The cemetery also contains one French and 37 Polish graves.

BUDAPEST WAR CEMETERY

The plot of land was given by the Hungarian Government in 1947 as “a gift of the people of Hungary for the perpetual resting place of the airmen who are honoured here”. The cemetery is one of those maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

BUDAPEST WAR CEMETERY

Remembrance Service

The Remembrance Service included a Scottish Bagpiper, Hungarian Military Trumpeter, a Priest, Rabbi, Reverend, Minister and Ambassadors (or representatives) of 22 foreign nations.

Words of Remembrance were given by H E Mr. Iain Lindsay OBE, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Hungary.  H E Ms. Isabelle Poupart, Ambassador, Embassy of Canada read the poem, “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae. Since this was written by a Canadian, I had to memorize this poem in grade school. While Her Excellency spoke aloud, the words came flooding back to me…

BUDAPEST WAR CEMETERY

We were invited to assemble close to the memorial to witness the Laying of the Wreaths.

Reception

Following the service we were invited to attend the Remembrance Day Buffet Brunch at the British Residence.  Thank you to our wonderful hosts for warming us up and sharing their home – Her Majesty’s Ambassador, Mr. Iain Lindsay OBE and Mrs. Bridget Lindsay.

Thanks also to Chris Clarke for arranging our transportation out of the city so we could attend the memorial.

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As a Canadian, I was proud to be part of this event here in Hungary. However, the Hungarian part of me felt a little strange.  Remembrance Day is not celebrated here in Hungary. Instead, Hungarians celebrate the Feast of St. Martin. Families across Hungary happily take this opportunity to gather around a roast bird and other harvest-season specialties. To put it simply, its almost exactly like the North American traditions of Thanksgiving.

Expat Life

Scotch Whisky Tasting with G&G Wealth at Diageo’s High Spirit Bar

November 9, 2018

Whisky — or Whiskey, depending on how you spell it and what region of the world it’s made in — can be a very confusing thing indeed. There are so many different styles and flavors, blends, single malts, single barrels, small batch, corn, rye, Irish, Scottish, Tennessee; it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. So how does one go about getting a grasp on this caramel spirit? Why by being invited to a Scotch whisky tasting of course! And I was lucky enough to be invited to one by Duncan Graham from G&G Wealth located here in Budapest.

Our Host

Andrew and I were fortunate to meet Duncan shortly after arriving in Budapest last December. We attended a Christmas event for the Irish Hungarian Business Circle of which Duncan is the Vice -President. Duncan is also the President of the St. Andrew’s Association Hungary and throws the best black-tie charity events in Budapest!  In fact, the St. Andrew’s Ball is coming up on the 1st of December – and you definitely don’t want to miss the St Patrick’s Day Ball on March 16th, 2019.

Duncan Graham

Duncan Graham (right) also arranged a charity tombola for the night, but unfortunately, I didn’t win anything. Peter Dobránszky, President of the Hungarian Rugby Association (left).

The Event

This packed house Scotch Whisky tasting was held at Diageo’s High Spirits Bar in downtown Budapest.  The program included short presentations on four excellent Scotch whiskies.  And let’s face it, good whisky can be really expensive, so this was a fabulous way for a novice like me to try them out. I got to try them without having to buy the entire bottle and risk disappointment.  The whiskies were also accompanied by some delicious hors d’oeuvres including one of my favourites – haggis.

The Whisky

After some very entertaining and informative introductions, I was able to taste the whisky.  In my case, I only “really” liked one of them. And that was the Glenkinchie 12 year old presented by Patrick McMenamin.  However, I also enjoyed the Cardhu 12 year old presented by Tim O’Sullivan.

The Clynelish 14 year old, presented by His Excellency Iain Lindsay, was a bit too complex for my liking.   And the Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve, presented by Csaba Gulas (Diageo), was much too strong for me. I’m not sure I have enough life left in me to get a taste for that one…

Patrick McMenamin (left) with my husband, Andrew.

His Excellency Iain Lindsay OBE, British Ambassador to Hungary (left) and Pat Kelly, Irish Ambassador to Hungary (right)

The Night

Andrew and I were thrilled to see so many familiar faces and be able to enjoy this night with good friends. Thank you again to Duncan for making this night so special.  I look forward to seeing you all again at the St. Andrew’s Ball.  And this year, I’ll know exactly what whisky to drink 😉

If you want to see video from the St. Patrick’s Day Gala this past year, you can check it out on my YouTube channel. The ball portion starts at minute 15:41 if you want to skip directly to it.

 


G&G Wealth Limited is a planning company dedicated to helping expatriates, foreign nationals and international workers invest, grow and protect their wealth –  no matter where they reside in the world.

A big thanks to the Sponsors – Diageo, Chris Clarke of Clarke and White, Global Reach, Edward Quinlan , Mannheim Patricia from Red Catering and Peter Dobránszky from the Hungarian Rugby Association.

Expat Life

Frida Kahlo: A Life of Suffering, Love and Passion in Budapest

September 23, 2018
44LettersFridaKahlo

While some people dismiss museums and art galleries as boring places to spend an evening, I have visited many times over the years. While studying at The Royal Conservatory of Music, The Royal Ontario Museum was just next door and offered discounts to students on Friday nights. In my 30s, I attended frequently with my sister, Kriszta and my friend, Allison. Even Andrew and I spent one of our first dates on a Friday evening at the ROM. And now here in Budapest, we find ourselves at the Hungarian National Gallery’s Frida Kahlo exhibition. Frida Kahlo is surely one the most iconic female artists of the twentieth century.

FridaAndrew

“Viva Mexico” Night

Last Saturday evening the Gallery hosted the “Viva Mexico” event. The event was in celebration of the “Día de la Independencia”. Not only did we get to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit, but we sampled Mexican food and entertainment.  Those of you who know us well, know that we are especially fond of Mexico.  Andrew and I have visited there at least once a year over the past decade. However, unsurprisingly, the food on offer was nowhere near authentic – I think the nachos had that gross plastic cheese on them. Of course, if you are my sister, that is your favourite kind of nacho cheese 😉  However, the music was a completely different story…

The Mariachis

I LOVE mariachis.  Honestly, this was the main reason we went to this particular event. I love the instruments. I love the harmonies. I love their outfits. I love it all.

Like Hungarian Gypsy music, Mariachi music is also deemed a cultural heritage by UNESCO.  This mariachi band, Mariachi Sin Fronteras, is actually from Slovakia with the leader of the band originally from Oaxaca, Mexico. However, they are faithfully carrying on the traditions of mariachi rhythms of sones and huapangos. They were wonderful!

The Frida Kahlo Exhibit

This temporary exhibit features over thirty paintings and other works by the artist. The selection features the artist’s hallmark self-portraits, and also includes such major works as her very first canvas, painted in 1927. There are also paintings and portraits inspired by the other people and events in her life. The works are suffused with symbolism and offer a glimpse inside the evocative, yet physically and mentally tormented inner world of Frida Kahlo.

The exhibit is beautifully laid out and all descriptions are in both English and Hungarian. This makes it very easy for expats to enjoy fully – unlike some other exhibits that are only in Hungarian. The works on display are magnificent, vibrant and emotional.

The Hungarian Connection

Did you know that Frida had a Hungarian lover for over ten years? Me neither!  One of things on display is a love letter she wrote – in Hungarian – to Miklós Muray.  Miklós Muray was a Hungarian-born Jew who photographed Kahlo for over a decade in New York, Paris and Mexico City. I don’t want to spoil the story, so I encourage you to visit the exhibit yourself to learn more.

FRIDA KAHLO – Masterpieces from the Museo Dolores Olmedo, Mexico City 

The exhibit is open until November 4, 2018.

Entry is HUF 3200 and tickets can be bought online or at the Gallery.