This has been a long haul for all of us. Reflecting back on these last 14 weeks of pandemic life in Hungary, we realize there have been challenges, but ultimately we feel really grateful to have been able to hunker down in the small town of Pápa with plenty of access to nature all around us, a supportive network of teachers leading our kids in distance learning, and the motivation to hold it all together through all the unknowns. Things are still different, but we are able to take advantage of stores and restaurants open again, and travel restrictions lifting. Slovenia and Croatia are now available to us as Hungarian residents (I believe they’re still restricted to Americans coming from the US, but we are safe with our Hungarian resident ID cards) and we plan to travel with D’s time off this summer! It will feel so good to get away for a while! Speaking of getting away…
Long Weekend in Pécs
We took the long Hungarian holiday weekend to go explore another city we had heard good things about, Pécs! As the towns of Pécs and Szeged are both worth visiting and reviewing in more detail, I wrote a separate post about them here. We loved both towns and found them both to be family friendly, beautiful, and with something fun for everyone. I personally preferred Pécs because I loved the quaint, college-town feel, nestled in the hills. We had a lovely long weekend exploring the surrounding area and the city, logging lots of miles, eating lots of great food, and even running into friends!
Our hotel was situated in the perfect spot between the elevated area of town (with ruins and an awesome playground) and the walled old city. The kids loved the pool and we were glad to have Bonsai with us. Walking into town was easy from there, which we prefer as an on-foot family!
Up Tettye hill from our hotel was a fantastic playground the kids loved and we went to play there twice. Just above the playground were the Tettye ruins – with a great view over the hillside into the city of Pécs!
Pécs downtown is so charming. The streets were lined with funky cafes, a wide variety of eateries for every dietary need, craft breweries, and great restaurants. We enjoyed every single meal! We even enjoyed dodging little rain showers, and grabbing gelato at Lavendula twice! HA!
We loved the Pécs main square. It might be my favorite square in all of Hungary! I love the slow grade with steps, statues, and colorful buildings surrounding the old Mosque. It’s a great place to sit around and lounge for the afternoon with a nearby craft beer, gelato or coffee!
The biggest historic attraction is the Pécs Cathedral. It has an impressive history (read about it in my blog detailing Szeged and Pécs here) and looming architecture, including a gorgeous iron gate in the shape of ornate grape vines. Outside the church and up the street are thick walls of love locks. This city sure is full of love!
Another must-see favorite area for us in Pécs was the Cultural Quarter. It used to be a Porcelain factory but has been converted into so much more! We wandered around the streets and the kids played on the playground. There were so many details we noticed like the statues and porcelain roof tiles. It’s a truly beautiful place!
The End of Distance Learning
We still had a couple of weeks left of school, so we did our best to finish strong. There were some amazing final zoom calls the teachers put together with games, rewards, and emotional slideshows of the kids over the course of the year. The last day of school was full of all kinds of overwhelm and happy tears! We are most definitely ready for summer, but are full of gratitude for making it through the last quarter of school so smoothly. The teachers really did an incredible job keeping everyone’s spirits up and the students engaged and learning!
We got plenty of exercise and outside time during our distance learning, and the kids found some wildlife (lizards!) and pulled out the blow up pool for “PE”. As things began opening up and social distancing rules became more flexible, the preschool class had a get together at the square to celebrate a student’s birthday, as well as one final party to thank our awesome teacher Ms. Meredith! Cafes and restaurants are opening back up, so we have taken advantage of that, too. The girls have continued to practice their acrobatics and Beau has started going to the track with daddy each morning for a little running and exercise on the adult “playground.” He has grown so much this year (they all have!) so he’s noticing what it feels like in a bigger body. On the last day of school there was a “Drive Bye Parade” where the folks leaving Pápa stood apart in the parking lot while everyone else drove by in their decorated vehicles. It was sad but a nice way to put a stamp on this strange year! That same day there was a beautiful rainbow halo around for a chunk of the day. What a gift! The colorful art below is a project Beau did – he listened to an Imagine Dragons song and drew a picture of what the sound “looked like” to him. Kind of cool! Then Willow drew on herself. So there’s that. I feel you, Willow! I’m also thinking about a permanent version of some body art…it’s time for new tattoos!
Beau’s Lemonade Stand
On the final weekend before school got out, Beau finally got to put together the lemonade stand he had been plotting for no less than five years. In the past we lived in places where a lemonade stand was just not practical, and I didn’t have enough local friends to invite over, so it was a sweet idea but in the past would’ve surely been a disappointment.
This time, not only did Beau convince me he was able to “do it all” himself (from the purchasing of supplies with his own money to making the lemonades, setting up and selling them all on his own), but he also wanted to donate half of the money he earned to the “help end racism.” The world is stirring thanks to the #BlackLivesMatter movement in America, and things feel different this time. They do in our household, too. I have been paying attention, asking questions, listening more, and I finally feel like I understand what I can do better. I thought I knew a thing or two before, but this movement has really struck me, and I don’t plan on letting it pass by without ongoing learning, teaching my children, and changing my mindset about some things. That said, Beau seems to have been imprinted by what he was learning. Even with his planning and ambition (and spending ALL of his money on supplies), I didn’t expect he would make that much money. My role was to post his lemonade stand on Facebook for our local friends and stay out of his way. It sure was hard to stay away and just peek over the fence from the sidelines, but it was also incredibly rewarding to see how he worked through problems and acted like a little professional! His sisters were super helpful too, making signs with him (he’s not a great speller yet, and they LOVE art) and generally greeting people – from our community and locals from Pápa – and making them feel welcome. The best part is he made WAY more money than we ever expected! He thought of every detail and sure earned it with all of his hard work! He ultimately was able to DONATE over $200 to charities of his choice! That means he pocketed nearly the same amount for his “Lego fund” on top of paying himself back for start up supplies. He was positively beaming! And I sure was proud of him, too.
Summer Food & Fun
Everything is fruiting, including the strawberry fields and our cherry tree out back! We have been picking so much we can barely keep up. I made my first cherry cobbler (delicious!) with cherries that took forever to pit, and with 9kg of strawberries I made a strawberry crisp, jam, and lots of juice! There’s a new restaurant in town, Grof11, and we enjoyed our first meal out as a family in Pápa there. Everything was delicious!
As soon as school got out, I hung up our aerial yoga silks outside and began enjoying the upstairs terrace more. The kids love it just as much as me! I also hosted the last Women’s Therapy Group in Pápa, as many members are moving away this summer, and I’m not sure what kind of commitment I can make to leading the group at this point, not knowing what comes next for us yet. It was a great run, nearly two years of regular groups. I attended my first Sip ‘n Paint and made “Le Petit Prince” with his little fox friend under the northern lights. One of my favorites! Finally, we celebrated my dear friend who is expecting her first child in August with a special baby shower (no photos). There are a lot of pregnancies in our little community this year and it will be exciting to have all the little babies in the fall – it will just be interesting to see how everything works out as we continue to be mindful about Covid-19. We have a lot of fun summer plans – something I didn’t think I’d be able to say – so we are ready to get the ball rolling!