Summer is here!! On June 1st, summer was ushered in with festivals all around the capital; band stages set up in random squares and food trucks occupying nearly every street corner. I joined in on a festival in the park where Zsolti and I watched my favourite Hungarian band ‘Margaret Island’ perform. It was a beautiful outdoor concert in the warm summer heat, and I loved watching the clouds change into pink hues as everyone danced to the music… what a way to ring in the Summer.
However.. that was the nice bit of summer heat… things amped up to a brutal 30+°C and I spent many, many days slacklining or picnicking on Margaret Island – trying to get out of the sun and the direct heat that Budapest emanates. Plus side? No bugs! And the lack of rain brought the Duna back down to its normal height.
Now the flowers. Oh MAN have they been GORGEOUS! Red poppies dot the countryside and roses are blooming at every house making my train trips to and from Budapest one where I listen to music and stare out the window incessantly.
I’ve been biking so much more and with fruit ripening, my daily excursions have become exponentially fun. Cherry trees have been chalk full of fruit and on my bike rides I always stop at the same set of trees (my snack trees) for a quick bite before dinner. It helps that one of these cherry trees is right outside of the house.. sorry Icaneni! Plus, because it’s summer now, fresh veggies make up the ingredients of my soups and stew dinners. Fresh fish too! Just the other day, Vilibacsi asked if I wanted any salad with my meal, I said yes and he went out to the yard, picked some fresh lettuce and came back inside. That meal of organic lettuce with fresh carrots, potatoes and fresh meat in my stew? Extremely delicious.
While in the big city I’ve spent every day with at least one friend; usually Arno since his countdown to leaving Hungary had begun. At one point on a walk with Arno I was talking to him about my ‘Hungary Bucket List’ and how I really wanted to start working on it and he turned to me and said “okay, then what are we checking off today?”. Whatta guy!! So, we spent the day checking off a couple things from the list (including a weird thermal water bar) and planning some day trips to Eger and Visegrad, which we did during the following week.
Although he almost died of sunstroke at Visegrad, it was a gorgeous day with bucolic scenery. And Eger was a wonderful day where I got to flex my Hungarian language skills, we saw an awesome museum and castle, ate some delicious icecream, and danced with drunk old people on the train. It is wine country after all!
Some laser tag, late nights and watching the sunrise more than once and then it was time for me to start packing for my trip to Belgium where I would be doing Archaeology work. Kim planned her own adventure to Bulgaria and we said goodbye far too soon. Because of timing with my trip, I would miss Arno’s final days too so within about a week and a half I was saying goodbye to two of my close friends here. Not easy! But that’s the lifestyle here in Europe as people can so easily move around, Erasmus programmes are common, and people are in constant fluctuation. Not to say that friendships aren’t possible! I’ve bonded an incredible amount with Paw and Nóra and we spent many days together, at the park, late nights in the square and even a sleepover or two. Then I rounded out my final days in Budapest with a trip to the blooming Lavender fields and a homemade meal with two of my Russian friends.. both conveniently named Anastasiia.
Next up I found myself flying to Belgium for the dig and meeting a group of 20 or so people I had never worked with before. Our rural town we were living in was gorgeous and we often found ourselves having evening walks talking to cows or watching the sunrise over the fields of wheat.
We dug for about 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. The summer solstice came and went with a beautiful sunset and a clear starry night, and by the end of June (only one week in eachothers lives) we had all already bonded extremely well and couldn’t imagine the end of our time together. July could only go up from there.