Monday, December 31, 2001

My Last Entry of the Year

My Last Entry of the Year

I had to muster all of my mental energies to feel better for today. I refuse to start a new year being sick. It was a slow start, but I was able to gather enough strength to go grocery shopping with Ron. Like Christmas, stores will be closed by 2:00 pm, the latest and will not open again until the 2nd of January.

Some things can seem amiss, but you do not realize what they are for a while. I mentioned to Ron that a pork roast sounded good for dinner. When we went to the grocery store, I went for some things and he went for the roast. When he returned empty handed, it was because the grocery store does not sell meat. What they have is bacon and cold cuts, but not a fresh meat section. It had not occurred to me on earlier trips, probably since we were buying at the butchers anyway. They also have one of the smallest produce departments I have ever seen. It was an eye opening experience. Hey, but I do know what pepper looks like in its little envelope and I know that vaj is butter and tej is milk in Hungarian. Speaking of pepper, after I arose this morning, Ron sheepishly admitted he broke the peppershaker. Funny how that followed his reading about my reporting his not knowing how to cover the holes before filling it. Just means another trip to Amsterdam to buy a replacement.

After putting the groceries away, we went to Stardust Coffee Café. They are trying to become the Starbucks of Hungary, before Starbucks gets here. They even tried duplicating the interior somewhat. Do not order their large coffees unless you are really running on empty. They are so large; a duck could swim in them. It was packed, so they must be doing well and they are only a long block from our apartment.

Both old dogs learned lessons today, hopefully. One of us learned that if you try and stuff two sheets, two pillow cases, two towels, and a pair of socks in a washing machine that has a cylinder the size of a hamster’s exercise wheel, they are not going to spin dry and you will have to mop the floor under the drying rack. The other of us learned that just because laundry detergent has the word color in English on the front, does not necessarily mean that it is not going to bleach the color out of your clothes.

We had intended to go to the mall, which we understood would have one section open for the cinema and for TGIFridays restaurant, so we took the subway there for an anticipated dinner and a movie, which would have given us plenty of time to get back to our area where all the action was to be. It was blistering cold, not so much the temperature, but the wind chill factor was severe. When we got to the cinema that is of course at the farthest end of the mall and farthest from the subway, it was locked up tight. Freezing, we tromped on back to the subway and went home, but there was a Chinese restaurant open across from our apartment. We ate there and went home for a couple of hours of Euro coverage.

At 11:20, we bundled up again for the cold and went out to the festivities. People here were wearing devil’s horns, Halloween type masks, and everyone had these huge conical noisemakers. There were a few firecrackers, but not enough to be threatening. There were thousands of people out on the streets. The streets were closed and a large stage was erected with live singing and dancing. Some of the poor women dancers were wearing spaghetti strap dresses to dance in. The entertainment was quite lively and people were dancing in the streets. There were a few stands selling food, drinks, and more noisemakers.

As 2002 was getting close, a group of people walked out of a truck with four individual numbers a 2-0-0-2 that looked like they were made of Styrofoam. Each number had three huge white helium balloons attached to them. When the clock struck 12, they set them free and although independent of each other, they managed to get quite high in the sky showing 2002, before they took their own flight paths. Then the fireworks display started, in two areas.

The display closest to us was white fireworks that shot into the black sky and burst into hundreds of white starfish, then seconds later the hundreds of starfish would explode yet again and create a full ceiling of tiny white lights. Neither of us had ever seen that type before and they were beautiful. At the same time at the far end of the street, there was sky filling chrysanthemums of green, red, white, blue and purple. Again, neither of us had seen purple in those types of fireworks, so they were really impressive. Then there were daisy types of sky displays, followed by these strange bulbous flower types that looked like they were coming at you. It was the same effect you have when wearing 3-D glasses when you think something is going to hit you in the face. The finale was rockets creating vertical showers of color in the air. The cold penetrated our bones, though the excited penetrated our spirits, so for the last five minutes of the twenty-five minute show, we watched in spurts as we walked home again.

In the warmth of our apartment, we watched London and Edinburgh ring in their new year, since they are one hour behind us. Of course, CNN had coverage of Australia, Hong Kong, and other cities for a brief moment and it was also ringing in the Euro.

I probably will not write again until after we return from our little get-away. We will be leaving on January 6th and returning very late on the 12th. That will give me something new to tell you.

We wish all of you a healthy, happy, prosperous, and well traveled New Year!

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