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Archive for the ‘Road Schooling’ Category

Hello! This will be a shorter post (I hope!). I hope everyone has made a nice transition into December, as we’re drawing into our last month here. As people around the world are preparing for the winter holidays, Europeans are no exception, specifically here in Hungary. On November 30th for example, we celebrated Andy’s ‘name day.’ The ‘name day’ is one of the Hungarians’ strongest traditions. Each day of the year, there are one or two Hungarian names that get celebrated, each day being a different name. A name-day is like a birthday. And people always know who’s name-day it is, because Hungarian calenders come with the names printed on the days. So old friends call each other, families gather together, you usually receive gifts, and chocolates, or flowers. Luckily, Andy and I both got traditional Hungarian names, and even though people give us funny looks when we say them (i.e. “Yeah it’s pronounced No-Amy, not Nay-Omy or No-Emi”) We get to have something of a second birthday. My name-day is on April 22nd for instance, along with another Hungarian name on that day: Csilla.

We also celebrated the first and second days of the Advent, by making Advent wreaths. The first Sunday of Advent was November 27th. Then, each Sunday until Christmas, we light one more candle. The 4th of December was the second Sunday, so we lit two candles. And there are four candles in all. The wreath is made of pine branches, typically decorated with ribbons, holly berries, silver and gold chains, and the candles.

Today was also St. Nicholas Day, we Americans call him Santa, Hungarian children call him Mikulás. Last night, children across the country cleaned out their best pair of boots or shoes, and put them on the windowsill. This morning, they found their shoes full of presents. Things like nuts, oranges and apples, chocolate, and small toys are common. It’s sort of like our tradition with stockings hanging over the fire, except they do it on the sixth of December, instead of the 25th. What did we get? Well Andy’s shoes contained a pineapple, mine a pommelo (A grapefruit type thing). We saw the fruits hiding inconspicuously on the kitchen counter the day before, so it wasn’t much of a surprise, but we gobbled them up anyway.

The Christmas Village is also a large step in getting ready for Christmas. Most of the bigger towns and cities have there own ‘village.’ It’s a small market, usually with a light display, and homemade goods and candies, and boiled wine being sold. (Boiled wine is a specialty, containing cinnamon and cloves. My dad tells me it tastes like apple cider, just with alcohol.) The Christmas Village is typically opened the first week of December. My Grandma, “Mama,” is already preparing her recipes for Christmas. This weekend we celebrate my dads’ birthday, and next week we head back up to Budapest, hopefully in the snow, to meet some family friends who decided to come and join us for a while in Europe.

Hmmm… Well that’s all I have to say on this subject at the moment, but I do want to say, in the category of road-schooling, that now, entirely without my permission, my brain mixed up a language setting somewhere and I’m reading and writing and even partly dreaming in Hungarian. The speaking was always easy, but I had never quite been able to write it, and reading a sentence could take ages. But now it’s almost as good as my English. I suppose it comes naturally, now that we have been immersed in the language for so long, but it still took me as a surprise. The good thing at least, about Hungarian, is that they spell everything just the way it sounds, which makes it easier to read if you can sound it out.

 

Well this wasn’t as short as I’d hoped, seeing as it took me nearly an hour to write this, and it wasn’t about travel, just life in general. But I’m glad I finished it now. Whew!

Lots

of

Love,

Noemi

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From Croatia

I’m sure all of our readers have figured out that we went to Croatia, and it was officially awesome! But here is the trip from my perspective:
We woke up on Thursday morning promptly at 3:45 am, got everything ready, and set off at 4:30. The night was still dark and I fell asleep for a while. The 7 and a half our drive was long and by the time we got there we were exhausted! Our first stop was not the city of Pula itself but a neighboring town called Medulin. Apparently, Medulin has the ‘best sandy beach in Croatia’ so we decided to check it out. It was really an incredible beach, with the warm, clear water lapping at the shore, and lots of families splashing and playing. But we didn’t really appreciate it until afterwards when the only beaches to be found where either pebbly or rocky. We spent the first night there in Medulin, but the next morning we drove right to Pula. Pula was a very fun stop and I’m so glad we did go to check it out. It was “my city” because I chose it and did research on it before hand, and got the opportunity to lead my family around the city for the first time.

From Croatia

We visited the ancient Roman amphitheater, one of the best preserved roman amphitheaters or Colosseums outside of Rome. Pula has a long and interesting history and that is one of the reasons I chose it. Apparently they found evidence of Homo Erectus dating back to 1 million years ago in a cave outside the city. It was a well-known Roman city, but they believe it may also have been a Greek one before that, because archaeologists found a half-statue of Apollo and lots of Greek pottery and tools, as well as the fact that in the ancient Greek myths of Jason and Medea, when Jason allegedly stole the golden fleece, the Colchians chased him into the Adriatic sea, and when they couldn’t catch him, they took refuge in a city called Polai. This points to the fact that the Greeks attributed the foundation of the city now called Pula, to the Colchians. But anyway, after Pula was declared a Roman city, the Romans built the Arena (as they call it) for entertainment purposes. They created the city’s first water and sewage system as well, under the rule of Julius Caesar. They also built 10 gates around the city, so as to fortify it. Only four of the gates remain standing today and we saw two of them during our visit: the twin gates.

The Romans also built the Temple of Augustus, which is also one of the ancient Roman relics left standing. I loved the beautifully carved Corinthian columns, the most detailed of three types of ancient columns. (Naturally we took tons of pictures!) The city was the taken over by tons of people, the Ostrogoths, the Franks, (under Charlemagne) The Austro-Hungarian too, and tons more. Which makes it all the more amazing that all these ancient Roman sites actually survived all those years to modern times.

From Croatia

We only stayed in Pula for a few hours, but I relished being able to set foot in a city with so much history. On the drive up to our final stop, Rovinj, we drove through Bale, a small town where they actually discovered dinosaur tracks! We even saw a statue there commemorating the event. Upon arrival in Rovinj, we immediately parked the car and wandered the winding cobblestone streets, before finding a place to stay. Eventually we found the perfect little place, a rental apartment attached to the owner’s home, with two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen. From there we set off to the beach, which was, though pebbly, quite beautiful. With the smell of baking pine trees above us and the brilliant blue sea below, I think we all felt like we have been given a little slice of paradise. We swam and enjoyed the clear warm water and the view of Rovinj from afar.

From Croatia

In the evening we went back into the city and enjoyed some more shining cobblestone streets. It was like a maze, and though the city itself was small, it would have been easy to get lost. You would be walking down a tight, narrow, little street and then it would open up and you would find yourself in a busy square or maybe a restaurant.

From Croatia

We walked up to the top of the town, where Rovinj’s famous bell-tower stands. From there you could see everything: the town, the harbor, the ocean, the beaches, and even the tiny island of St. Catalina, all under the purple haze of twilight. We shuffled home, and I fell asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow.

Our second day in Rovinj was spent much as the first. We went to the market which was wonderful and bought fresh grapes and figs as well as some soft pretzels for breakfast. We walked around the city much as we had the day before, and for lunch we picnicked on the beach. A lot of the rest of the afternoon was spent swimming and sunbathing and shell-collecting in bliss.

From Croatia

In the evening we went to a restaurant for dinner to celebrate the night before my birthday. We found the perfect restaurant, one with good prices, amazing food, and it wasn’t to crowded, as it was in one of the back streets. My dad and I shared a grilled meat plate, my brother had fettucine pasta with truffle sauce and my mom a seafood plate with plenty of squid (eurgh). But I think we all had an amazing meal in the perfect atmosphere.

From Croatia

The next day was my birthday, September 11th, and the day of coming home. It was a sad thing to be leaving this wonderful place after so short of a time but we were excited as well, to come home. We left at 5:30 am and were home by 2:30 in the afternoon. Waiting for us was the entire gang: grandparents, cousins, and uncle, as well as our beloved Tiny. We ate a delicious home-cooked meal and out came the surprise birthday cake that we weren’t expecting.

It was an incredible adventure, and we all learned so much!

Signing off,

Noemi

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Hello readers! I’m sitting down to fill you in with all the things that have happened and in doing so, completing my weekly blogpost! Well I’ll start by saying last week was “Szolnok Napja” or “Szolnok Day” here in Szolnok. It’s the city’s ‘birthday,’ So to speak, and this year our cute little city of Szolnok has turned 936 years old! We went to several of the many events and mini-celebrations that abounded last week.

Just to give you an idea of Szolnok before I go on to tell you about the events: Szolnok is one of the top ten largest cities in Hungary I believe, and though I wouldn’t say that it’s HUGE (because in American standards, it’s pretty small) but it has everything one would need to get by. One of my favorite things about it is the market, called the “Piac” in Hungarian. A Piac is a common thing in Hungary, almost every single town has one. In Szolnok’s case it is an outdoor-indoor market place, that goes on every day all year round, though some days are better market days than others. All of the vendors are local farmers, come to sell their fruits and vegetables, or meat and cheese, or whatever they’re products are.

From August 2011

Szolnok isn’t perfect, and it’s not stunningly beautiful either, (although I still love it) but it’s being improved everyday. Just last week they where filling in all the pot holes on our street. They have been painting and improving a lot of the buildings around town, and last year they built a brand-new ultra-modern bridge crossing the Tisza, one of the two rivers here in town.

Anyway about the events… My mom, Andy, and I went to visit the city’s museum to get some back-round history about Szolnok as part of roadschool. It was a beautiful building near the main square. When we stepped inside we noticed we were the only people there and we got tickets without waiting in-line and got to tour the museum alone. Since we were a bit pressed for time we visited the Archeology and “Ném Rajz” (which I’m not sure of the translation but it was a study of how people lived long ago) sections. It was really fun to see the all the archeological discoveries found around Szolnok. There where things like tools and pottery and even a human skeleton, preserved very well, found a few miles from here. Then in the second section it showed models of clothes and displays of furniture and art and even money. I loved seeing the gigantic hoop skirt that was made to emulate the dress of a lady of higher status. And all the small thin silver coins about the size of a penny. All in all a very interesting visit.

From August 2011

A few days later was a my favorite event the “mécses úsztatás” which was where people brought candles to light and float upon the water of the overlooking the river.

From Szolnok

I loved the atmosphere here. The next day there was a concert near the train station. We walked down to where it was taking place and enjoyed listening to the Hungarian singer’s version of songs like ‘Mamma Mia’ and ‘Twist and Shout’ in English. Then, just a few days ago after coming of the library we witnessed a marching band parading down the road. I love how the Hungarians have so much spirit!

This past weekend we went to Vác by train to visit my great-uncle and aunt, but that is a long, long story so I’ll leave it to someone else. Before I finish up I just wanted to talk very briefly about what kind of schooling we do here at “roadschool”. These days I usually do a lot of internet reasearch for subjects like math, science and history. Right now more specifically I’m starting Algebra for math, and doing some biology and earth science. History is my favorite and writing now I’m learning about the middle ages. I’m reading a novel in Hungarian and two in English (I like to read…hehehe) Emma, by Jane Austin and Sherlock Holmes. In Hungarian I’m reading a translated version of a book I read back home, called Percy Jackson. I’m also starting Italian.

Well Ciao for now!

(And thanks Mia for sending us our very first comment!!)

Noemi

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