Sunday, April 1, 2012

Trip to the Wine Country

Our Hungarian hosts took us on a wine tasting trip where we had a great dinner and interesting tour of the wine cellars.  Here are some photos of the conference participants learning about Hungarian wine culture.
 Daniel Martin from Queen's U/Belfast;David Scott Diffrient and Hye Seung Chung from Colorado State U
 Our wonderful host from U of Pécs - Laszlo Tarney
Soyoung Kim and Earl Jackson from Korean National U of Arts

South Korean Film Conference

Attended a great conference here in Pécs.  Thanks to Laszlo Tarney.  Will post later about the amazing papers and the participants whose work was very stimulating.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


All packed - getting ready to travel to Hungary for a film conference on South Korean film at the University of Pécs.  Can't wait to see old friends, eat goulash, buy some paprika, and hear all the great conference papers on SK films.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Saying Good-Bye to Pécs

Well - early tomorow morning (2:30 a.m.) I take the shuttle to the Budapest airport to return home via Milan, Italy and Newark, New Jersey - 18 hours after my 7:40 a.m. flight departs. I spent yesterday and today on a last few good-byes and stuffing my two suitcases full of all my junk.

Had coffee with Liza, an American student from Salt Lake City, whom I met my first week here. Delightful young woman who has lots of traveling in her future. She and I both compared our great adventures in Hungary. Met my friend, János, to say farewell - he gave me some homemade paprika sauce. Yum - can't wait to try it. And met Zoltan at Cooltour Cafe for a last red wine - thanks for the wine Zoltan and the DVD of a new Hungarian film. I know Bill Pryor will be happy to watch all my Eastern European DVDs when I get home.

Today I went by the bookstore to say good-bye to Levente and his great girlfriend, who have always been so kind to me. Sad to leave them. Levente had one last tip for me - a new cafe selling home made cakes and pastries - so I just had to give it a try before I left. As usual, his advice is golden. Had a yummie chocolate torte with cocoanut and a citrus filling swirled into the batter.

Now I'm working on final posts to my blog - and waiting for Ági to come and help me cart my luggage down the construction zone, which is my street.

Christmas Differences

Always hard to judge cultural differences on a brief trip. But I think I've observed some differences in the Christmas holidays. First of all, there are two distinct celebrations - December 6 (Advent) and the December 25 - which are celebrated. Father Winter or Father Christmas (more recently Santa Claus) brings children gifts on December 6th. So the Santa figure is not associated so much with December 25th. There were concerts in the cathedrals at both Pecs and Zagreb on Advent. The holidays around December 25 are similar in some ways - on Christmas Eve there is a midnight Mass (in a largely Catholic country), families get together for dinners on Christmas Day and the day after Christmas which is also a holiday. The Christmas tree is not put up and decorated until December 24 - and then it is left up until January 6 (12th night after Christ's birth) Children get presents on Christmas, but these presents come from the baby Jesus. So the Christmas holiday seems more focused on the birth of Jesus and family. The town and stores are decorated - you may have seen my post on the Arkad, the shopping mall which looks very much like any mall. But the decorations are not as extensive or gaudy as in America. They are simplier, primarily strings of white lights and garlands. The holidays seem to me to be more peaceful here - not quite as stressed, though I hear that women get stressed doing all the holiday cooking - same as home.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Trip to Villány Wine Country

Last night Lászlo Tarnay arranged for a trip to the wine country with Aron, Lászlo and Krisztián, colleagues from the film department at the University.  I had a wonderful time.  Áron was kind enough to drive us all – no small sacrifice since the driver can not drink.  The wine cellar served a hearty dinner with great wine, of course, and, afterwards, we all went into the wine cellar for a tasting.  I’m afraid that I lost count of the number of wines we tasted – eight in the cellar, I believe.  Then we returned upstairs for dessert – two different kinds of retes – a type of Hungarian strudel.   Wow, what a great evening.  I had a fine time talking to Krisztián about all the Eastern European DVDs he’d given to me to watch.  I have to take the time here to thank everyone for making my semester very pleasant and welcoming.  Especially, my thanks goes to Lászlo Tarnay – what a wonderful guy.  Without Lászlo I would never have had this opportunity to live and teach in Hungary.  This has been something that I have wanted to do for awhile, and Laszlo made this happen for me.  I will always be grateful to him and have wonderful memories of this semester in Pécs.   Here are some shots at dinner and in the cellar.  You can see behind Laszlo the cellar wall has coins stuck to it.  The moisture is such on the brick walls that you can put a coin or paper bill onto the wall and it will stay.  So a shot of the guys at dinner; Laszlo T. in front of the coins, Áron and Lászlo, Krisztián and me, and in the cellar.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ági's Birthday Dinner

On Friday Ági and I went to Tettye Restaurant to celebrate her birthday.  Great food and even better conversation.  I have to say a word about Ági as I get ready to leave Hungary.  She is just an amazing woman, and I am so thankful that I had an early chance meeting with her.  I know that our friendship will continue after I return home.  In fact, I just got a text (everyone here refers to them as SMS) from her - informing me that she has obtained a camera for her computer so that we can video chat!   This women is one of the kindest, most generous people I have ever met.  She is also funny and smart.  It is because of Ági that I saw Plitvice Lakes in Croatia, hiked up Zéngo Mountain, and went to the extreme sports park.  Wow, come to think of it - she nearly killed me!!  She has really been a big help with any difficulties I've had.  Just yesterday, she loaned me a flashlight so that I can walk down my street at night without stepping in the mud puddles.  That will really come in handy tonight when I return from the trip to the wine country after dark and possibly slightly impaired.
Ági is just the kind of person who always seems to think of other people first.  I am inspired by her thoughtfulness and unselfish character.  Here is Ági at her birthday dinner.  And shots of our food.  A fish plate (carp, pike and catfish) and turkey breast stuffed with plums.  I thought the Hungarian flags were cute.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Countdown to Home

Well, in five days I’ll be returning to Kansas City, Missouri.  As I contemplate leaving, my feelings are mixed.  In one sense it is sad to leave Hungary, but it is also great to go home.  Here's my list of what I will miss - and what I want to return to.  Except for the number one on the list – they are not in any particular order.

What I Will Miss In Hungary

1.     The People – without a doubt this is number one.  I will make a separate post to thank them because the list is so long.

Why I’m Happy to Return Home

1.     The People!  Of course, the biggest thing I’ll miss here are great friends that I got to know even better on this trip and new friendships I’ll retain in the future.  But I miss my family and friends.  I miss my husband, Mike, who has been so supportive of this whole trip and encouraging me when I encounter any problems.  I’ll be happy to see my son Ryan, who is home right now – and though Taylor is in Utah, I’ll still be closer to him than now.  And I can see my sister and Steve again, my brother and Judy, my mom, maybe that new baby of Jeff’s – and all the friends who have been so great about sending me emails or posting to my blog – especially Bill, Georgia, Linda, Laura, and Janine.  I would have felt more cut off from my life without these communications

Back to what I’ll miss in Hungary – here’s the list

1.     The People

2.     The Architecture – hey, in Kansas City I think a 100 year old building is old. 

3.     Public Transportation – love not having a car.  Budapest’s Metro and Zagreb’s tram system are also awesome.

4.     Life Outside – outside cafes and sidewalks full of people make a city lively.

5.     Restaurant service –  here you can stay and talk to friends as long as you want.  Waiters will not bring you a bill until you signal or ask for one.  It’s great – no interrupting your conversations; no hurrying you to clear the table for the next customer.

6.     All the great film festivals (Cinepécs and Zagreb) and wonderful concerts I’ve seen here – free or pretty cheap. 

A r A really good cup of cappucino

8.     Buying fresh food from the market – wow,  I forgot apples were actually juicy.

9.     Feeling safe walking alone at night.   

10.  Learning some language.  I have learned a few more Hungarian words – And I have improved my Croatian.

Glad to be Going Home to

1.     Family and friends  - as I mentioned above.

2.     A Non Smoking Environment.  I did not realize how our smoking laws provide us with clean air to breath.  Some of my favorite cafes here have nausia inducing smoke choking the air, especially in winter when the doors and windows are closed.

3.     Family Christmas Dinner– I can not imagine missing a family Christmas dinner – I was sad to miss Thanksgiving and speaking of that…

4.     Turkey – I want to make a whole roasted, stuffed turkey with all the trimmings because I really missed that.

5.     Cooking and my kitchen in general.

6.     The Plaza library.  I haven’t done as much reading here 

7.     My Washing Machine!!  Enough with doing laundry in a kitchen sink.

8.     Internet Access at Home.  No more walking to a café to use the wi fi.

9.     Reading the newspaper.  I miss my morning coffee and newspaper reading to start the day.

10.  A Sidewalk and paved street outside my condo.  My apartment here has had the street torn up for a month.  When it rains, I have to walk through mud.  Since the street lights have been out at night I negotiate this in the dark.  (Of course, this is not typical – just that there is an unusual amount of construction and renovation because Pecs is the 2010 Capital of Culture for Europe)  Still, I am glad to leave the construction mess behind. 


Going Away Dinner

On Wednesday the students in my documentary film seminar invited me to one of their homes for a farewell dinner.  Ours was a small class, so we got to know one another through the semester.  Thanks to Réka for hosting.  To Ádam, Lili, Márton, and Réka – my sincere thank you for a delightful semester and an awesome going away dinner.  We made galuska together – so I see now how to make these tasty homemade noodles.  I guarantee I’ll be cooking these back home.  A wonderful dinner – topped off by Lili’s special dessert.  Yummie.  And, of course, there was a little wine drinking.  And, most of all, great conversation and laughs – and more wine drinking.   We certainly got to know one another even better after this evening.  Well, if these students represent the future of Hungary – then Hungary has a bright future.   The thanks these students gave me was really touching – a beautiful thank you card – and they even gave me a sealed card for February 6th – my Hungarian name day!!!  So I shall look forward to the day I can open that card.  And I take home with me many fond memories of this class.   Here’s a look at cooking galuska 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Big Band Jazz Orchestra Playing the Beatles

Sunday night I went to the Studentski Centar to see the HGM Jazz Orchestra concert.  They have a new CD of Beatles tunes.  Here is a sample from the concert which was packed.  Lots of families and bus loads of young people were in the audience.

Winter in Zagreb – Zima u Zagrebu

I was really surprised returning to Zagreb in December.  Because I have been here in fall and spring, I expected all the outdoor cafes would be closed – hey, it’s winter (zima) and it is fairly cold to be sitting outside.  I was shocked.  The main square Trg ban Jelicica was packed with people and the outside cafes were full.  Wow, that would not happen in my city.  At the very first sign of 60 degrees, no one is sitting outside, let alone in 40 degrees.  Fahrenheit of course.  I did see some outside heaters, but I noticed that many people were outside who were not under heaters.  For the holidays there are kiosks selling food, Christmas ornaments, gifts, souvenirs, jewelry, and of course hot wine.  So folks are outside shopping and visiting, as usual.  The city looks very festive and beautiful.  In the square is also a large tent for people to sit inside and have a drink or sausage, yet still see outside through the clear plastic sides.  At the outdoor stage I saw several performances of children’s dance groups, as well as a good band.  Everyone stood outside in the evening to watch these groups perform.  So here is a look at Zagreb in the wintertime.  I always love the energy of this city.

Special Note:  In the concert at the end of the video there is a guy playing a bass?? But it has no outside shell.  I tried to give you a close look at it.  Has anyone ever seen this instrument.  If so, what is it called?  

Visiting Friends and Family in Croatia

This is a picture of my cousin, Nick, who lives in Karlovac.  He came to pick me up at my hotel Saturday morning.  In the winter, he grows a beard – which I have never seen before since I’ve visited in early fall or spring.  He is always great company and I enjoy getting updates on his family since our last visit a year and half ago.  He took me to a traditional Croatian meal – blood sausage with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes.  I was a little afraid of the blood sausage at first – but it was delicious.  I also saw Jadran Boban, a Croatian filmmaker, who gave me some DVDs of Croatian films to take back for the Kansas International Film Festival.  I’ve really excited to get to watch them – and since it is a rainy dreary day in Pécs, I’ll probably get a chance to watch one this evening.