a gloomy saturday in budapest

Our first gloomy Saturday in Budapest. You can find my blog posts about our trip to Hungary, Austria and Czech Republic on my blog, in search of a thousand cafes. 🙂

in search of a thousand cafés

Friday to Saturday, September 22-23:  Four days in Budapest and this is our first, but only after Lufthansa carries us, miserably uncomfortable in economy class aisle seats, for 7:55 hours through a six-hour time zone change and across the north Atlantic to Frankfurt.

While airborne, I squirm and wriggle and try to sleep, but manage to snooze less than a half hour, instead captivated by a series of shows on the small screen inset into the seatback: first, a German-language movie Die Reste Mienes Lebens, in which Schimon lives his life following his pregnant wife’s death by clinging to a sentence his grandfather once told him, “Everything in life happens the way it should.” Second, Mama Mia and its exuberant ABBA songs delight me once again (how many times have I watched that movie?), although our destination will be nothing like the Greek island where that magical love…

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preparing for a japanese adventure

I’m leaving for Japan on Monday morning, March 27, and I’ll arrive in Tokyo on Tuesday afternoon, March 28. I’ll be writing about my expat experience on https://catbirdinkyoto.wordpress.com/. I hope you’ll follow me there!

catbird in japan

Thursday, March 23:  In late February, I was offered a job teaching EFL to Japanese university students in Japan beginning on March 28 (the term actually begins April 7 and ends August 1).  I’ve opted to extend my stay for one week, until August 8, so I can travel around Japan for a week.

I’ll be living in Sagamihara City in Kanagawa Prefecture.  This is part of the greater Tokyo metropolitan area.  The capital of Kanagawa is Yokohama.  Yokohama, the second largest city in Japan by population (3.7 million), lies on Tokyo Bay, south of Tokyo, in the Kantō region of the main island of Honshu, and is today one of Japan’s major ports.

I leave on Monday morning, March 27, and will arrive at Narita Airport in Tokyo on Tuesday, March 28 at 3:55 p.m.

I found this long video (24 minutes) about an apartment for Westgate…

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exploring reykjavík: hallgrímskirkja & old reykjavík

Here is a post about part of our day in Reykjavik. I won’t be reblogging any more to this blog, but if you’d like to read more, feel free to follow at https://catbirdineurope.wordpress.com/ Thanks! 🙂

in search of a thousand cafés

Monday, August 15:  We wake up to a rather gloomy day in Reykjavík, but at least it doesn’t seem to be raining. We’ve slept rather late, as we’re existing now in parallel universe with a four-hour time difference from home.  My friend Beatrice had earlier recommended potassium and magnesium to help us sleep, and, after taking it last night, I slept like a dormant volcano (snoring away of course, as Mike complains).  The fog I’m in and my resistance to get up could be from  jet leg, exhaustion from walking nearly 7 miles yesterday, or just being in a comfortable bed under a cozy comforter. 🙂

We find, to our surprise, that there is food in the common breakfast room.  We didn’t know that breakfast came with our Airbnb reservation. Quite a spread is laid out: ham, cheese, bread, butter, jelly, yogurt.  There is a carton of eggs, an…

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iceland’s golden circle: gullfoss & geysir

The rest of our first day in Iceland. Finishing up the Golden Circle. 🙂

in search of a thousand cafés

Sunday, August 14:  We drive next to the stop furthest afield along the Golden Circle: Gullfoss. It is proclaimed as Iceland’s most famous waterfall.  Brown sediment from the Lángjökull glacier, about 40km north of Gullfoss, flows into the glacier lake Hvítávatn (“white river” lake) and then into the river Hvítá (“white river”), where it falls in two magnificent cascades into a 32m deep narrow ravine.  Apparently on sunny days, the mist creates rainbows, but as today isn’t sunny, we don’t experience any color at all!  At least, thank goodness, it’s stopped raining.

The waterfall is quite a sight when we first get a glimpse of it.

First view of Gullfoss First view of Gullfoss

We walk down a long path to a ledge overlooking the first drop. Lots of people are walking around taking pictures on the slippery rocks and I can’t help wonder if anyone has ever fallen in.

Gullfoss Gullfoss

Mike at Gullfoss Mike at…

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late night arrival in iceland, check-in to reykjavik, & a trip around the golden circle. first stop: Þingvellir national park

Come along on my trip to Iceland!

in search of a thousand cafés

Saturday, August 13:  Many people these days take advantage of the Iceland Air Stopover , which allows a 7-night stopover for travelers en route from the USA to Europe.  We don’t do the stopover, but instead opt to focus our entire vacation on Iceland.  Our plan is to spend eleven full days driving around the famous Ring Road in a rented car. In retrospect, we should have planned our trip for a minimum of 14 days.  I’m always a firm believer in spending at least two weeks in a country, if not more, because I like to be immersed, to take on the culture of a place, to feel like I belong.  To drive the Ring Road in a leisurely fashion (some of it is not paved, though it’s in decent shape), to do some longer hikes and other activities, like glacier walking and horseback-riding, we could certainly have…

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off to a new adventure!

Saturday, August 30:  The big day has arrived!  I’m off to the People’s Republic this evening at 5:00 on Air China.  I’ll arrive in Beijing after what I imagine will be a grueling 13 hour and 40 minute non-stop flight.  When I land at 6:40 p.m. on Sunday, August 31, I’ll spend the night in a hotel at the airline’s expense.  In the morning, I’ll catch a flight to Nanning City, Guangxi Province, People’s Republic of China, arriving at 10:40 a.m. on Monday, September 1.  I’m told that one or two of the students from Guangxi University will meet me at the airport and help me to get settled in.   I’ll be living in an apartment on the campus, and everything is supposed to be supplied for the teachers.  Supposedly we’ll be given bicycles to use, and a swimming pool is on the campus.

Though this is the third time I’ve done this, I’m still nervous.  At the same time, I’m equally excited.  I’ve read scores of books and seen numerous movies about China over the years.  I visited Beijing in the fall of 2010 for 5 days.  I lived next door in South Korea from 2010-2011.  I’ll be happy to be back in Asia again.  It’s such a different world than what I’m used to, I imagine each day I’ll be immersed in exotic and interesting experiences.

I don’t yet know the situation in China, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to blog.  If I am able to, you’ll find me at catbird in china.  It’s my understanding that Facebook and YouTube are blocked.  I guess I’ll figure it all out when I get there. 🙂

Goodbye, for now, to America!!