I didn’t get photos of all the workshops, missions and travels I did with the IFRC, but here are some of them. I had the opportunity to visit some of the Red Crescent community centres in Turkey’s Ankara, Konya and Istanbul, I got to visit different camps in Macedonia, I did presentations in Sofia, Budapest, and Vienna, I participated in the Regional Disaster Response Team training in Bulgaria, and I took part in a global workshop to define the first Red Cross Red Crescent movement guide for community engagement and accountability. An intense learning period, definitely.
I haven’t been hiding, I’ve just been very busy.
My time in Budapest on a very interesting mission is coming to an end, and I am leaving the city tomorrow – ready to take on a new challenge and new adventure, this time in Stockholm, Sweden. (After a couple of weeks of travelling.) I have photos and stories to share and will do so at some point soon – but first a quick shout out to those who sent emails asking what happened with the blog – I’m very much okay! And a big thank you to Budapest for embracing me with its enchanting architecture, great food and long walks. A true gem in the heart of Europe. Even being here, in such a great city, the job has still been responsible for most of the pleasure these last couple of months, it’s been wonderfully enriching and I can’t wait to tell you about it.
Photo taken with my new Minox35ML, I’m trying this analog thing now. :)
UPDATE: Posts will slowly but surely start appearing under this post. Because I like things to come in chronological order. :) Don’t miss!)
So, in theory I lived in Budapest for 7 months – but I spent many of those weeks on mission with work so in the end it was mostly about packing and re-packing.
While I was in the city though, I was often excited about the fact that friends now could visit me (and bring Swedish snacks), about the access to great food experiences – and I happened to be around for both Balaton Sound music festival and Budapest pride. I found a community of “secret dining” at Zoltan18 where I went a couple of times to have a first class dinner around a table with 20 strangers, hung out with a group of med students and other new friends, went for art exhibitions and concerts, and had the best colleagues one could ask for.
Being back in Europe was very special. I could move around more freely, I had access to things and people, I felt like I was transitioning into finally settling down. And I finally bought that vinyl player. So symbolic!
I chose not to extend my contract in Budapest as a new opportunity came up that was a better option for me – I was a bit sad about not getting more time in the city, but I felt I definitely made the best out of my time in one of Europe’s most gorgeous and wallet-friendly cities.
Some photos from when I in June decided to become good friends with solitude again, and travelled to Beirut by myself. I had wanted to visit for a long time, and no friends were really able to join – so I went anyway, and had an absolutely fantastic time with the most hospitable people I’ve ever met, many of whom became friends.
I stayed at Staybridge suites, an apartment hotel with great staff, great location and an absolutely fabulous rooftop pool where I really found the headspace I needed from some of the most intense months of work ever for me. I strolled alone around the city, I took some time to read, to swim to sit in the sun. To be alone. It didn’t take long before I found my new friends at the hotel though. Less than a day actually. Among them was Maja, a polish girl I met in the elevator who also happened to be alone in Beirut. And Marwan and his friends, who became the best possible Lebanon guides. There were also a bunch of other strangers who always prove to be courteous, friendly and great.
Needless to say, there was a lot of dancing. And I can hands down say that of all the cities in the world that I’ve danced in – Beirut nightlife wins. Sunrise and all.
In January this year, I took my mother to the very cool restaurant Bloom in the Park for her birthday. It’s one of those “secret menu” places where you’re not told what you’re eating until after the meal on a dedicated website – a great experience & much recommended.
On the menu:
egg royal / black truffle
misocured potato / baltic prawn
oyster / lemon
Champagne A. Chauvet, Tours-Sur-Marne?
lobster – parsley root – ink – basil – scallop
Servoisine, Givry 1er cru ´13
coal bread with cranberries
kapers – bak choi – leek
simmenthal – frissé
Pinot noir reserve 09? S/A
petit choux / raclette
salsify – chestnut – celery
hazelnuts – hare – black olives
Montefalco Sagragentino ´07, Umbria, Italy
st: Marcellin – grapes – thyme Gewurztraminer, Vendadge Tardive ´11, Alsace
smoking cold drink of ginger and green tea
chocolate – orange – kumquat – blood
Banyuls Rimage, Cornet & C, ’11, France
pumpkin /pear / beetroot